Today, the Sunday before Mother’s Day, is recognised by some as ‘Birth Mother’s Day’. Here a mother writes in celebration of the woman who gave birth to her son.
Dear mother of our son,
I am sorry that we forget you, that we overlook you in our rush. We prepare lunches, pack bags, get to school, get back home and out again and somehow you are not in our thoughts. How can that be when you changed our lives?
Next Sunday I will get the brightly coloured, misspelled card, and the carefully carried coffee. The world acknowledges the work I do to raise our son. But on Mother’s Day the world will not turn to you. I don’t think you are going to be congratulated and wished happy Mother’s Day, you will not be feted for all you have done. Instead your motherhood is a secret that you pull close to your heart. So today, this Sunday before Mother’s Day let me congratulate you and wish you a happy Mother’s Day. We have this day to pause and turn our thoughts to you – so that we can acknowledge with wonder your life-changing role in our lives, and honour the decisions you made.
Do you remember that it was our lost futures that brought us together, that one time we met? I was facing the crushing defeat of unsuccessful IVF, my dreams of being a mum trickling away with each tear. You, with your unplanned baby boy, were facing rejection and trouble from your family, disruption to your career and future plans. You and I were both holding the pain of those unplanned futures when we came together. I remember you asking, “What will you tell him about me?”. I said, “I will tell him, ‘We did it together, your birth mum and I. She was able to create and nurture you as a baby, and my body couldn’t do that; I was able to nurture and raise you in a way that her circumstances couldn’t allow her to.’”
We met, shared our pain, exchanged futures and walked away from each other in different directions. My path as a mother was visible, recognised and celebrated by all. Your path as a mother remained concealed, locked away.
Each day I make sacrifices for our son. Out of love I give him the first and last strawberries in the packet; I sacrifice my sleep for his joy and health. My life is full of little ‘givings up’ – parts of me given to my child. Today I remember and honour your greater ‘giving up’, the sacrifice you made when you placed your child for adoption and made him mine. I acknowledge your sacrifice that made me mother, and made you a distant shadow.
Motherhood is full of doubts. It was a big responsibility you gave me. I wonder if I am good enough, I wonder if I am doing it right, I wonder if I have enough friends, I wonder if my parenting will have lasting implications for our son’s well-being, resilience and growth. Today I wonder about the crushing doubt that you faced, that brought you to the place of placing your child for adoption. The doubt that in our society you would be able to parent alone, the doubt that you could parent to the standard you wanted because our society is not set up to support new mothers. I think about what I can do to create changes, to create more choice and more support.
Our son has an independent spirit (a bit like you actually). He is keen to separate, to be able to make his own decisions, to do things his way. He runs into school without a backwards glance, then he asks to be dropped in the car park for sports instead of accompanied to the coach. I feel that tear of separation each time as I have to let go just a little more. Today I shed a tear for that complete rip of separation that you experienced when you signed the papers and I became his mother.
I honour you for the pain and loss that you bear.
I thank you for changing my life.
I acknowledge that I became whole again, I gained the future I dreamed of through your sacrifice, pain and courage.
Today is your day and I think of you, honour you and acknowledge the choices that you made that left you with a quiet ache that couldn’t be shared.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.