Friday, May 6, 2016

Brave Love

The sun is streaming through my smudgy front windows, the tree is in hot pink bloom beyond them, and later today we'll drive the roads I know by heart, down to Ohio, to my mom.

Mother's Day is one of those special days that feels near-tangible to me. There are no required decorations, no boundless expectations. But usually, Spring is smiling hard on us. Usually the red-bud is blooming and the peonies are tight fists of what's to come.

There's the simple fact that my mom always makes things better, somehow. There's the fact that I'm a mother myself. I have caught the tears and folded the laundry and negotiated bedtimes, Kindle time, and consequences. I know who eats what and which one would eat peanut butter and honey for every meal until the end of time. I know I'm a mother because my twenty-two year old called me from work at 10:30 last night and when I answered he screamed, "Mommyyyyy!" into the phone, something I found both entirely ridiculous and completely endearing.

Then there's the other side of it all, four birth moms who created the reasons I am a mom. Two of them I have only imagined in my mind. We know basic details, written somewhere on a page, rendered into an image that is surely off target. We make assumptions, black hair, brown eyes. If I scan every Asian face I meet, wondering, "Does she look like that?" my sons do the same, or will one day.

I've seen a grainy, digitized photo of Robert's birth mom, and I see traces of him. He doesn't like to talk about her much, and I remain curious.

A few weeks ago, we sat around our table with Ruby's birth mom, her sweet, growing family, and her parents. Our relationship over the past nine years has been a tender thing, a flash of green poking through soil. We've tread carefully around it, risking inevitable awkwardness for the chance to make good on our shared solidarity - we did this together, and we'll see it through. Over frozen pizzas and hummus, I wished for the thousandth time that they lived close, rather than across the continent. There wasn't a shred of tension or doubt. It was easy. We'd found our groove, and no, nine years wasn't too long.

Later that night, after the paper plates had all been trashed and bedtime loomed, one of my sons wept. "It's not fair."

I couldn't argue.

There will be pans of chicken enchiladas this weekend, and pancakes in the morning. There will be garden talks and wooded walks and with any luck, a little time in the hammock. I'll honor my mom and be honored myself, hopefully with something handmade and wonky.

But at least half of my heart will be quietly honoring the four of them, who I will only ever know as stunning. Motherhood is a strong and fragile thing. Sometimes, it asks impossible things of us. Sometimes, we have the guts to say yes.

The Brave Love campaign created a video honoring birth mamas, and it pulled every string inside me. It's heartfelt and beautiful. It might make you cry. But can't we say that about many of the loveliest things? I hope you'll watch. I hope you'll share it.

I hope, this Sunday, you'll say a prayer for the mamas whose day might pulse with sadness, loss, longing, or even regret. So many among us carry burdens we cannot imagine. If you know a mother whose story might be complicated or hard, let's do what we can to lighten her load. We're sisters. We were made for this.

Happy Mother's Day, to each of you.

BraveLove is a movement dedicated to changing the perception of adoption through honest, informative, and hopeful communication that conveys the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her child with a loving family through adoption. (un)Wanted is their new campaign that addresses how adoption is a loving decision in which birth parents want the best for their child. BraveLove seeks to change the conversation surrounding adoption and provide a safe place for people to explore adoption.