For this week’s Tuesday’s Trials I want to discuss the transition from parenting another woman’s child to taking ownership of the title of “Mama” in the context of when I first become a mother. As I have discussed, the realization that these children that I get to call mine are also someone else’s is never far from my mind. Shifting my identity to that of “Mama” was a transition.
I clearly remember my first “Mama moment”. We were still in the hospital in the 72-hour waiting period before any paperwork could be signed. Turkey-man was spending time with Mama-A so hubby and I went down to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat. On our walk I heard a squeak and immediately turned looking for Turkey-man. It was just a door opening, but I was startled by my initial gut reaction that searched for him so I could comfort his cry. The transition had begun.
After we brought him home, I had some work ahead of me. Although it had seemed like my soul recognized him as my son the moment I laid my eyes on him, my psyche had to adjust to my new title. I struggled to lay aside the guilt I had over my joy coming at the expense of Mama-A’s grief. It was difficult for me to trust my motherly instinct because I was not sure I deserved the title after all the sacrifice that was made for me to obtain it.
I would envision the things I thought were motherly and attempt to emulate them. Little-by-little as Turkey-man responded positively to my attempts to mother him, I was able to accept the role. The way he would quiet his cries to my rhythm of bouncing and swaying or the times where my presence satisfied him in a way that no one else could would validate my attempts at adjusting my new identity.
One of the most useful things that I did was to repeatedly remind myself that I was the mother that God had chosen for this little soul. With everything that we had been through and the certainty that we had that Turkey-man was the child God had waiting for us at the end of our journey, I could not deny God’s intent for me to mother him.
As he grew, I was able to hone my instincts. Convincing myself over and over that I was his mother allowed me to trust my gut. I began to recognize that I knew him in a way that no one else did. I knew him as only a mother would know their child. I could distinguish his cries and know how to quiet them. I could bring out smiles and laughter that no one else could.
Once he was old enough to start verbalizing his recognition of me as his “Mama” I was slowly able to stop needing to remind myself that I was the mother God intended for him. He sought me out for the nurturing that a mother provides. He came to me to fix his boo-boos. He ran excitedly to greet me if we were apart for a bit. Little by little I was no longer emulating my vision of motherhood, but living it by intuition.
One of the other big turning points was when I began to recognize the separate role that Mama-A had in his life. It is hard for me to explain, but in a way before I could see how it would play out it almost seemed like a duplication to have both of us in his life so it was hard for me to separate out my identity as “Mama” from hers.
My identity in my role as his Mama continues to evolve as he grows and his needs change. Right now I am the one he cries for when he is sick or sad or scared. I am the one he turns to when he wants “No Kisses!”, which is code for me wrapping him up and kissing his little face like crazy. It is a role that I cherish, one that I dreamed and longed for. When I hear his little voice call for me, I am reminded that he identifies me as his Mama as well.
We are woven together by this. My need to nurture him matches with his need for my nurturing. That is the essence of motherhood. And, it is as beautiful as I imagined it being!