How I Become This Mother

How I Became This Mother

How I Became This Mother

I always played the mom when we played house in Kindergarten. And I was a stickler for the rules. I bossed my five-year-old friends around as you might imagine I would; I ruled with a plastic spoon. I picked favorites. Those kids got to work in the play kitchen. If someone I didn’t like wanted to play house with us, she would inevitably end up grounded and be sent to her “room” for most of recess. Sometimes I pretend spanked her, never really touching her.

Thinking of that now makes me want to vomit.

A friend of mine had a baby the summer before eighth grade. I still didn’t know how sex worked exactly, so for her to be pregnant felt other-worldly. Very Mary, mother of Jesus, because how else would a 13-year-old girl-child come down with child. In the locker room, as we discussed yet another tantalizing article in YM, I was the genius who decided oral sex must be french kissing because your tongues were in each others’ mouths. I don’t know what happened to that girl or her child. That makes me sad.

In rural Western Pennsylvania in the 90s, girls regularly got pregnant in high school. I suppose they still do, but to me, raised to think sex before marriage was the worst thing, the unforgivable sin, the number of swelling bellies passing me in the halls felt like an epidemic. And oh, how I judged.

My mom had me at 19. Her mom had her at 19. Her mom had her at 19.

So when I turned 20 with no baby on my hip, I got downright smug. Look at me. Look at all the things I’m accomplishing with my life. Nevermind the fact my anxiety at attempting to achieve all these things caused me to cut myself in the dark of night. The fact that I wasn’t one of them was a point of pride. They say pride always comes before the fall. They’re right.

I decided maybe I didn’t want children at all. Having recognized maybe I wouldn’t win that Grammy, I decided I’d be a field reporter. I’d travel the globe. I’d see things, do things, report on the people and places around the world. I’d win awards. I’d make something of myself. I’d be somebody.

My daughter changed my life plan.


I was going to be the best mother. We’d have one of those relationships they make cheese movies about; we’d be Lorelai and Rory but without the guy drama on my part. No, I’d focus on my daughter. I’d do this one thing right. I’d do it perfectly. Perfectly.

And then I got sick. And scared.

I thought about the struggling relationship I experienced with my own mother. I thought about the struggling relationship she experienced with her mom, and she with hers. I looked at my situation, sick and on bed rest and unable to work, and I thought of all those teenage moms I judged. As the Karma Train ran me over, I felt so alone.

Then she was gone. I wasn’t one of those moms. Instead I was completely other. They, instead, judged me.

I judged me.

Sometimes I still judge me. I’m working on it.

There are moments when I see myself as the mother I dreamed I could be in between all those different phases of growing up. Moments when we’re sitting on the couch reading books after a trip to the library. When they feel comfortable telling me anything, asking me anything. When my daughter visits and their voices echo off the walls of the house we’ve made a home. When we’re all in sync and everything feels like this was how it was meant to be.

But it’s always there. Hanging on for dear life. Poking me in my heart. This could have been different. This should have been different. You should have done better.

My motherhood hangs heavy with the nuances of loss and love. Some days I can rectify decisions, and some days I’m left questioning where exactly I went wrong. All I know to do now is to love all three children with all of my being.

It’s all I have to give.


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The Alphabet Song

The Alphabet Song #adoption

The Alphabet Song #adoption

The boys adore their sister.

I don’t mean like they like her. I don’t mean like they love her like I love my birthday cake. I don’t mean they think she’s cool because she is cooler than cool.

They think the sun rises and sets on her head.

Any and everything she says is the best thing ever said. Ever. They repeat it. Repeatedly. They laugh so hard my ears hurt. They laugh and laugh and repeat and repeat and hang on every single word, every single breath. Like they’re soaking her up like a sponge, keeping what they want and need of her to save up for next time.

It’s kind of adorable. It’s kind of annoying.

Sometime during this past visit, I told Dee that the boys would think it was cool if she sang the alphabet song. Dee agreed.

Eventually, I just started saying, “Alphabet,” when the laughter would ring or the repeating would start.

My daughter eventually caught on. “Why do you keep saying alphabet?”


“They would think it was cool if you sang the alphabet. They’d repeat it.”

She processed this. Later in the day, she started singing the alphabet. Wouldn’t you know it? They joined in, made up different tunes, and laughed so hard.

I just can’t even. It’s really cool, watching them watch her.

It’s also eight kinds of gut-wrenching.

I mean, I’m not stupid. I know that if we all lived together under the same roof and they were typical, everyday siblings, they’d argue like typical, everyday siblings. I also feel like the dynamics of personalities might change, though I can’t really say for certain. This is where my dad would argue that people are meant to be who they are meant to be no matter nature, nurture, birth order, or any… thing. He used to argue this with me when I was still in high school and it would blow my mind. Now that I’m a parent with two sons at home and one living away in an open adoption, I can see some of his points.

Genetics are wonky, yo.

LittleBrother cried yesterday morning as he left for school as my daughter and her mom were supposed to leave before they got back from school. Then he nearly jumped out of the car when he got back home when he saw they were still here. Then he cried again when they left. And at bedtime. And again this morning. And once again this afternoon.

Both boys are counting down the hours until we visit next month. I have no idea what they’ll repeat next time, what they’ll latch on to, what they’ll laugh at for hours on end. I look forward to watching their sibling bond grow though… it’s honestly something I didn’t quite expect about open adoption. Watching all of this unfold, watching them text on their own, watching them make their relationship what they want it to be at this point in time.

We’re doing good things as a family.