Κυριακή 12 Μαΐου 2013

What I Know About Motherhood....

What I Know About Motherhood Now That I Am an Adoptive Mother

It helps if the adoptive mother supports the adoptee through the full range of emotions he or she may experience.
K goes through different phases. Sometimes, she is quick to volunteer the information that she was adopted. She feels special and unique, and she likes to surprise people with this interesting tidbit about herself. Other times, she loathes the very concept of being adopted and refuses to say one word about it.
Immediately before or after one of our annual visits with her birth family, K is unusually anxious or sad, and at these times, she needs me to be very accepting of the roots of these emotions: her undeniable connection to another family. In the past, especially with closed adoptions, experts advised adoptive parents to deny the adoptee's feelings of Otherness. Now, we know that the best way to help a child who feels conflicted or torn is to recognize, acknowledge and accept her emotions.
I hope that K will suffer fewer torn loyalties because she is not burdened with trying to protect me from her feelings of love for her birth mother.
I want to connect with K in all of her experiences, even the ones that are hard for me to witness. It isn't always easy, but it is my firm belief that K will stay truly connected with me if she feels safe expressing her connection to her birth mother. Sometimes, she goes weeks without mentioning her birth mother. Sometimes, she asks about her every day for three or four days in a row. I try to follow her lead.


What I've Learned About Motherhood By Being a Single Mom

Not all families look the same.
As quickly as I could, I moved my son out of a co-op where there were no other divorced families, where we all fit into tidy, homogeneous class, race and religious categories. The school he has been in since is full of diverse families. There are families with two mommies, transracial children, single parents, those who speak several languages, kids with hyphenated last names. This community has supported my son; it paints a big, beautiful, crazy picture of the many ways families are. When he confidently told his pre-K teacher he has three homes -- our house, the one he shares with his dad and his grandparents' place a few blocks away -- I knew we were in a good place. Now that my boyfriend lives in the same city, our family photos have changed again and experience has helped us embrace that evolution.


What I Know About Motherhood Now That I Am A Lesbian Mom 

 As mothers, we are our own worst critics. Lesbian mothers are not exempt from this.
Motherhood is hard. The pressure, the stress, the standards we put on ourselves, and how the judgments of others affect us. We, as mothers, are our worst critics and often struggle in silence. As lesbian parents, this self imposed pressure is even greater. We worry that if we don't do this right, those around us will not only judge our parenting skills, but will judge same-sex parenting altogether. In our neighborhood, we are one of many two mom families, but away from home, that's not always the case. We often feel like we have something to prove. We need to do this right, so the world can see that same-sex parents are good enough



What I Know About Motherhood Now That I Have a Child with Special Needs 

"Doing your best" is good enough.
Zoe begins most mornings feeling tired, and my perpetual mom mantra is to encourage her to keep moving -- to just "try" and "do her best."
These are lessons I try to internalize, too. Mothering never gets easier; it just changes all the time. I have learned that when Olivia sometimes cries to me, feeling sad about the extra attention her sister receives or whatever else I might have done to hurt her feelings, it is OK to admit that I am not perfect, and that I try my best -- and that holding her tight makes us both feel better.
And at bedtime when Zoe curls up against my chest, it's OK not to reach for a pillow to support her tired muscles. It's OK to just let her be -- because simply holding her in my arms is good enough.


What I Know About Motherhood As An Unconventional Parent

My children have felt not just tolerance, or comfort, but pride in our family -- not in spite of its difference, but because of it.
The first mistake I made, during my worry-ridden pre-parenthood years (and they were years: eight, from first "maybe baby" alt-conception info group to delivery room), was to assume that at best, my children would look at our family through my own battle-weary, middle-aged eyes. At worst, they'd see me through the jaundiced eyes of those that fear or hate my kind. Silly me.
The second mistake I made was to forget how fully and unconditionally I loved my own parents, warts and differences and all. My mother was overweight, and older by a decade than most other mothers. She moved slowly, looked different from all the other mothers, and was often mistaken for my grandmother. Did that make me judge her? Not in the least. Quite the contrary: it made me judge those who judged her. And then love her all the more, for her dignity.
And so it is with our kids. My daughter, year after year in school, has stunned me by drawing beautiful pictures and writing moving testimonials to the fact that she loves being someone who has two moms. She feels special because of this, not in spite of this. My son drew a colorful sign that reads "Rainbow Family," and carefully taped it on the thick glass of our front door so that it's the first thing you see upon entering our house.

What I Learned About Motherhood After Losing My Son

Unfortunately, there aren't too many guarantees in motherhood. Our children's happiness is not a guarantee, nor is their future. That's morbid, I know. But what I've come to realize is that my children's future as I've imagined it is not a guarantee either. In my head, I've planned who their friends and interests will be and where they will go to college (and THAT they will go to college). But they might have ideas of their own.
I want a soccer star, yet none of my first three sons seems to have an interest in or aptitude for the game. Instead, they've decided they like baseball. So in this moment, I am watching baseball games -- sometimes four in one weekend -- and I am enjoying my sons' attempts to master that sport instead. I am appreciating what they're interested in at this moment.
We're not promised tomorrow or next year or even 20 years from now with our children. We're only promised this moment.
At this moment I have dirty laundry and baseball games and a tantruming toddler, but I also have my children. So I am going to find moments to enjoy. I'm not going to dream about tomorrow or make promises for someday or plan their weddings just yet.
Losing a child taught me that dreams can be crushed in an instant. So I need to parent in the moment and make it count because there is no guarantee beyond now.



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