I am a mother.
I have been a mother since June 28, 2006 when a 3 week old baby boy was placed in my arms by an attorney in a small Midwestern city. No, I did not give birth to him, no he does not have my DNA, no he was not placed in my arms by a doctor, nurse or midwife, but he is MINE. He was mine from the moment that attorney called, with Grasshopper's birthmother there on the line to tell us that we were going to be his parents, forever. That relationship was cemented 6 months later when a judge in that Midwestern city finalized our adoption and issued a new birth certificate for Grasshopper that reflected his status as our child. Yes, he was adopted, yes he IS our child. (We are always careful to use the phrase, "was adopted" not "is adopted" by the way, as there is a world of difference in semantics).
Now that little baby boy is two years old, and loves to do all of the things that two year olds are wonderful at: he spins in manic circles until he is too dizzy to stand and then lays on the floor and laughs hysterically. He turns into a frog, monkey or dinosaur on a whim and gets frustrated when Mommy can't keep up with which animal he has decided to be. He plays with cars and trains until I expect the wheels to fall off from exhaustion. He gives the most delicious hugs and kisses freely, and without artifice, to anyone who wants them. He also has meltdowns, throws things, hits and kicks and refuses to share. Sometimes he is very, very frustrating. Sometimes, I need to vent, or complain, as well as brag.
Since I became a mother via adoption I've had lots of ill-thought-out comments directed my way, from "Don't you wish you could have your own child?" (Nope. Because actually he is my own child) to "Don't you worry that his mother will want him back?" (Nope. His mother is right here talking to you) and even, "How much did he cost?" (He's priceless, I assure you). But no comments are as painful to me as the ones that disparage my right to be his mother in all ways, not just the bright sunshine-y ones.
You see when you go through hell and back to become a parent, and you finally succeed, you are apparently not supposed to find parenting to sometimes be daunting, frustrating and painful. People seem to think that because I wanted him so desperately and worked so hard to make my dreams of motherhood a reality that I somehow should only see the positives about parenthood and my child. This is not the case. Somehow I am expected to censor my thoughts and feelings in ways that most parents aren't expected to because of how he came into my life. Yes, he is a gift, the greatest one I have ever been given. Does that mean that I don't sometimes fantasize about selling him to the gypsies like Amalah, or wonder sometimes if Mir's parenting advice, “Pray. Then buy rum. The end.*” isn't 100% correct? No, it doesn't. Please don't tell me that, "this is what you wanted" or "Don't forget how lucky you are to have him" when he is being willful and tantrum-y and destructive. Not only is it not what ANY parent wants to hear when they just need to vent, but it belittles my position as his mother in ALL ways, not just the happy ones. If they haven't been handing out rose-colored glasses and instruction manuals in the hospital nurseries, they certainly haven't been doing it in attorney's offices or orphanages.
Since I began this blog, I have had several people, (people who are very close to me and who only have my best interests at heart) recommend that I censor any of my more frustrated parenting thoughts here in the blogosphere. And because we hope to pursue another domestic adoption, I considered it. Briefly. I realize that there may be a birthmother, or a social worker who will seek out my little corner of the web and decide based on some of the things I have written here that I am not the person that they want to raise the child whose life they have been entrusted with. And that will hurt. But I believe that I am a REAL mother, and I can't think of a single mother who has not had her fair share of challenges and grievances when it comes to parenthood. Giving voice to the trials and tribulations, as well as the joy and the wonder of parenthood is what I have chosen to do here, and I hope that when taken together as a whole my postings will provide a picture of a whole mother, a complete mother, not a two-dimensional greeting card mother. My hope is that a complete mother, one who loves and accepts her child always, not just when he is the picture of well-behaved perfection, is what any birthmother or social worker is seeking for a child.
*Mir also has wonderful parenting advice that does not include alcoholic beverages. She, like me, sometimes needs to vent.