I’ve been wished Happy Mother’s Day more times than I can count today and each time a little twinge in my heart registered both pride and grief. Each one of these treasures who has given me the opportunity to be a mother is a source of such joy and pride for me. To watch them change and grow, to be the one the look to for direction, protection, and love…these are things that make this Mother’s Day a time of celebration for me. I can’t look at any one of them for more than a minute, though, without thinking of two other women who should be standing here and celebrating today with these treasures in their arms. Their birth mother and their mother-in-waiting.
I have had the privilege of meeting Eli & Ellie’s birth mother. We had two visits before she went to live with Jesus on October 4th, 2010. This woman LOVED her babies. She was a faithful mother who died striving to provide for her children. Her last moments with Eli & Ellie are forever burned on my eyes and in my heart. I want to be able to tell the twins about them in vivid detail as soon as they are ready to know. I’m sure Irene is celebrating from Heaven today, both Eli & Ellie’s first birthday and the fact that they did not spend even one Mother’s Day as orphans, but my heart breaks that she is not here to see how beautiful and healthy and happy her children have become. Their sweet American mama is celebrating from afar today as well. I watched her tears over the computer this evening as she moved closer and closer to the screen, wishing she could just get through it to her babies. I watched as Ellie’s eyes opened expectantly when she heard her mommy’s voice. This ready-mama and these waiting babies, planned for each other and yet separated today…and yet He knows why.
I know very little about the birth mothers of the other children here. Some of them have died. Some of them may have chosen to leave their child safely abandoned in a village, rather than take them into a dangerous war zone. Some of them might have made terrible mistakes in choosing to not mother their children. Whatever the reason, their children have been left without mothers and without families and for that my heart is sad. Adoption is beautiful and I believe with all of my heart that God plans for it and uses it for His glory and our real good, but it is still heartbreaking any time a child has to be separated from family, community, roots, etc. So, today we grieve the women who gave birth to these precious children. We search the children’s faces for the pieces that were left behind by mothers we’ll never know. We give thanks for their sacrifice, intentional or careless. We honor them with words of respect. We choose to believe the best about them. And so, Mother’s Day passes with a twinge of solemnity and sorrow in our home.
The other side of Mother’s Day in this house is ANTICIPATION. This morning, Lily and I wrote a letter to her mother-in-waiting on the other side of the world. Separated by thousands of miles, yet able to write to each other in real time, these two exchanged their first mother’s day words in anticipation of what will soon be an up-close, cuddle and love-filled mother-daughter relationship. Lily’s eyes lit up as I held her close and told her how her mommy longs to have her there in her arms today.
Lily dictated: I love you so much. I know you are coming soon. I think about you every day.
She looked up at me with the sweetest faith in what I had told her, patiently waiting for “next year” as I’ve told her. My thoughts at once jumped to Mother’s Day 2012, when (we pray) each one of these sweet ones will be in their forever mama’s arms. I don’t know where I will be, but it won’t be here and it won’t be with them. Ouch. Lily’s hand on my face pulled me back to today as she said words that make every ounce of my anticipated pain seem so small, “And this year, you are my mother.”
It’s true. This year, my calling is to be mother to each one of these little ones who wait. The smallest ones do not understand the difference between their waiting mothers and my current mothering. Lily’s understanding, however, is enough that she can see both mothers (the one next to her on the couch and the one waiting on the other side of the computer screen) and accept both, love both, celebrate both. Her joy in my current role in her life has no reservation. Her love for me is not held back as she anticipates transitioning into a new…a permanent…family. She is soaking up now, while taking every opportunity to celebrate what will come. I want to imitate her.
I want to soak up now. Each bedtime story, each dirty diaper, each day that passes without giving me time to take a shower.
Today, I am the up-close mom…I am the one who has the privilege of whispering, “she’s coming” into the ears of the ones who are waiting. I am the one who gets to prepare their hearts to receive the bond that they will celebrate with a different mother for the rest of their lives. I get to give them these days of myself so that they are ready for thousands of new days with a mother who will be theirs for good. This is hard, but it is so worth celebrating.
It is also worth celebrating a new skill that I am learning from these little ones who wait. My own anticipation of a forever home has grown stronger and more expectant. I’m also waiting for a Father who longs to get to me NOW, who has prepared things for me that are bigger and better than I could ask or imagine, who seems so far away and yet is more real than anything I’ve experienced today.
And so we wait…in action…learning each day a little more about the ones who are coming for us, growing each day more attached to them, and becoming each day more aware of how important the hope of their coming is in our lives.
We’re celebrating over here.
**on a TOTALLY related note, Rachel and I are celebrating the fact that our own mothers are here with us. They heard the tiredness in our voices, the stories of sleepless nights and days without a moment to shower and so they came. They have served us so sweetly. They’ve taken night shift with fussy babies, organized our pantry, folded all the clothes, cooked meals, cleaned the kitchen every night, and sat with us, enjoying these precious moments that we have with each one of these little ones. It has been so good to share our lives with them and to have these three generations together in the same house. We love you, moms!