Nelson baby

I do have regrets but I’m not sorry.

Sometimes I think I overreached. Often I believe I underachieved. I cast myself as an heroic mother but I was an ordinary mother posturing. I spent months and years renegotiating my expectations of my children and myself. The contract between us meant letting me or them off the hook one day and piercing all of us with the same hook a day later.

I lived through all of this and so did they. I see that sometimes as a miracle.

After breakfast with my son this morning, I kissed him goodbye. He is taller than me by several inches now but his cheek feels to me like it did when he was a baby the night his father brought him home from Nicaragua.  I remember, months later, him waking up from heart surgery, an IV in his tiny arm, a monitor attached to his thin, round chest. He looked at me and mouthed the word, Mama. I wasn’t but I was.

Today, I said to another adoptive mom, “We are like twins with our own special language.” And it’s true. If we are honest with each other, if we drop the Hallmark cards in the trash and decide to live in a world with truth and doubt and honesty, we could have a thousand sisters. And our children could have mothers who have quit with the pretending. Having an adopted child isn’t the same as having a birth child and both adoptive parents and adopted children would be liberated if we stopped pretending it is. Adoption is something else altogether. A whole other species of mother and child.

I look at my son, now 30 years old, and I think, now you and I are together by choice.  You don’t need me to survive. You can be on your own, create a different history, thank me and say goodbye.

But you don’t. And neither will I.

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