I’ve been a mom for eight years and two months and some days that I don’t feel like counting. The journey has been very, very long.
My whole life, I’ve had two mothers: the one who gave birth to me and the one that did the real work of raising me. But really, there is only one.
Gaby was a mom when I met her, so Cyrus has three moms. Poor Erika lives with two moms.
My own mom is a woman most of you have met. You love her. You love her because she is always able to be positive in any situation. You love her because she hugs you, even though she might not remember your name. You love her because she only wants to dance and have a good time.
I love her because she is my mom. And like most people, as I’ve aged, I’ve realized her wisdom, how much smarter she is than I. I strive to be like her while at the same time I try not to be like her. I see this pattern in Erika, who is nearly 14, trying to cling to Gaby and push her away at the same time. It is exhausting, this pulling and pushing of our mothers, ourselves.
Today, Gaby had to work and Cyrus was at his other mom’s house for the holiday. Erika went to her dad’s for a while. So, I went fishing with some friends; we paddled around a lake, caught fish, or in my case, struggled to catch fish. I spent the day in the sun, on the water, not trying to please anyone, not trying to do the laundry or mow the yard. I got to spend the day mostly in my head, sweating and cussing at the stupid fish for not biting. I think that’s what all moms really need: a fucking break. I wish Gaby could’ve been with me. She needs a fishing trip more than I do.
The thing is, Cyrus did not come from my body. The same way I didn’t come from Faye’s body. None of that matters to me. You see, my whole life is about being a part of a family that doesn’t look like me. I don’t feel like him coming out of my body would make him any closer to me, but I know most people feel that way.
When I meet strangers and I tell them I’m a mom, they assume Cyrus is biologically mine. They assume all of the physical pain and sacrifice that comes with giving birth to a child. To be a mother is to sacrifice your body, they think. You might think that, too. But you also may know what else I’ve sacrificed–what matters more than that.
I’m adopted. I’ve never thought of my mom as a lesser mom because I didn’t come from her body. I’ve fought with her for the reasons we all fight with our moms: we are teenagers and they couldn’t possibly understand us, right? It is very true and very not true. But the whole time I knew she was my mom. My only mom.
People have asked me if it was hard bonding with Cyrus since he wasn’t mine. He isn’t mine? So, I’m not Faye’s? So, I’m not a “real” mom?
It’s true, no baby has ever come from my body. No baby has ever come from Faye’s body., either, but can you imagine another mom for me? I can’t.
The fact is, I have no idea what it means to have family that are biologically related. It’s weird to me that you look like your parents. It creeps me out a little that Erika and Gaby look so much alike. But, by some wonderful coincidence, Cyrus and I resemble each other.
I don’t feel like a lesser mother because I’m not a biological mother. And I hope that my mom has never felt that either. I don’t feel that way toward Erika, but maybe she has trouble understanding that since she looks like her mom and comes from her mom.
One of the women I went fishing with today was, at a certain point, my daughter. She was already adopted. Then, adopted again. There are too many layers in our lives to even dig through.
All of this is to say:
All of the children in my life are mine.
Being a mom means giving all of yourself, all the time.
Being a mom means kayaking around a lake trying to forget, for just a moment, you are a mom.