Brave New Mother’s Day

I’ve blogged about my conflicted relationship with Mother’s Day before. Each year I implore my clergy colleagues to stop celebrating Mother’s Day in worship. It is a Hallmark holiday, not a liturgical one. And Mother’s Day is a painful day for many people already. Let’s not make it worse.

Anyway. I digress.

This Mother’s Day, I’m dealing with a whole new reality. Yesterday, I stood in the card aisle at Target for 10 whole minutes. I had picked out cards for my mom, and my mother in law, and my son Eric’s mom.

But there was one more card I wanted to buy.

Why couldn’t I find the “For your birth mother, whose name you just discovered this past year, and who doesn’t want anything to do with you” section of Mother’s Day cards?

I realize parts of my life are very much a niche market. Target did not sell that card.

I did buy a card. A generic Mother’s Day card. With butterflies and sparkly paper. It didn’t overstate the sentiment. No mention of “you’ve been the best mom ever” and no promises for “I’m looking forward to spending time with you soon“.

I don’t know if I will mail it.

For those of you who have been following along, I received my original birth certificate this past summer. And I have spoken to my birth mother once on the phone. And have received a letter from her. And she has made it clear in both her words and her actions that she does not want to have a relationship with me.

And yet I still bought her a Mother’s Day card.

This is the first time in 46 years that I have had the ability to send her greetings on Mother’s Day. She won’t respond to it. She might not even want to receive it. Who knows, maybe she will throw it away unopened. I can’t really control what she does. (understatement of the century) It doesn’t change the fact that for the first time in my whole life, I have the chance to send her a Mother’s Day card. And so I probably will.

I recognize, though, that on some level, I bought her a card because a part of me, somewhere deep down inside, is convinced that I can change her mind and make her stop rejecting me.

Before you try to tell me it is not rejection (and because you love me and care for me, I know some of you will want to do this), let me claim and name this rejection.

Intellectually, I know there are good reasons for it. 1968 was a different era. I get that. I completely and totally support her right to not want to be in relationship with me. Her experience with adoption was not my experience with adoption. I completely understand all of the good reasons for her to not want to be in relationship with me.

It doesn’t change the fact, that at a cellular level, I feel her decision as rejection. I wrote about feeling rejection this past fall.

I keep coming back around to it. Rejection.

I sit here and look at this pretty purple card with the sparkly butterflies and I wonder if I really just want to send her the card because I want to give her another opportunity to change her mind about me. I’m a nice person! People like me!

One of the reasons I want her to stop rejecting me already is because I want a different scenario for her. She has told me that giving me up for adoption was the right thing to do. And I totally agree with her that it was. Being adopted has been such a gift in my life.

I want her to know that in addition to being the “right” thing, giving me up for adoption was also the “good” thing for her to have done.

She still is keeping the adoption a secret from her children and has asked me not to contact them (which is why I have not ever used her name or photograph on this blog). I get why she had to do that in 1968. It pains me that she still has to do it in 2015. 46 years of secrets suggest she doesn’t see what she did as a good thing. Just as the right thing.

I know, intellectually, that I cannot control what other people do. I tell people that every single day, when they come into my study for counsel.

The reality is, though, I successfully control quite a bit in my life. I can easily fool myself into thinking I can successfully manipulate my universe. I also am often convinced that if everyone else would just let me run everything, we would all be happier.

Did I mention I have control issues?

My lack of control in this non-relationship with my birth mother, however, is making me twitch.  I can’t control a damn thing.

I’m a big fan of the story of the infant Moses and his momma from Exodus 2. The Egyptians were killing Hebrew baby boys, and so she puts him on a raft made of reeds and sets him afloat on the Nile river, trusting God would take care of him when she could not.

He Qi, Baby Moses

He Qi, Baby Moses

This story mirrors my experience as a birth mother, letting my son go, out of my control, afloat on dangerous and crocodile infested waters, and trusting that God would provide.

That’s another time when my life was so far out of my control, now that I think about it.

And God provided. Eric was more than safe with his adopted family. He has been cherished and loved every minute of his whole life.

I feel like I’m back at the river again, this Mother’s Day. This time, however, it is my birth mother of whom I must let go. And so I’m building another flimsy raft made of reeds and trusting God is doing what God can do to make sure she knows she is loved, she is appreciated, and she did a good thing when she gave me life and gave me up.

Because there doesn’t seem to be anything else I can do to convince her of that. And so I have to let her go. And who knew this would be so damn hard?

Float well, Sophia. I trust God is carrying you where you need to go. Blessings on that journey. Happy Mother’s Day.





17 thoughts on “Brave New Mother’s Day

  1. Naming the rejection is a powerful, wise, difficult thing. You did so, here. And you are a strong, vulnerable woman who can do this difficult thing. With God’s continued help and the prayers and support of many who pray you along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You bravely have shared your pain with those of us who have felt rejection and want to change the world. I’m pretty sure that is everyone. Thank you. I weep with you, I cry out to God with you, I pray with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i can barely read this for the tears in my eyes. You are so very loved. I am sad for your birth mom to never experience the joy of knowing you. You will do what you have to do. One more thing you long for to be floated down the Nile.

    But we know what God did with Moses. God is also doing with you. Through the pain and with the pain. You are more than a gifted leader. We are watching you grow into this in so many beautiful ways. And bringing healing to so many others through it.

    What a journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marci, I feel you. I’ve long wondered whether the satisfaction of knowing some things that promised to complete the picture of my life were worth the rejection that came later. I would say both our mothers are missing out on knowing pretty terrific women.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And you bought it b/c you are the kind of person who wants to get all her mothers a Mother’s Day card. You turned out really well! Whether or not she is proud of you, she certainly could be. I think you know that and although I know it’s not everything — well, knowing a good person like you is a huge comfort to people like me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Yes, I’m so grateful that her rejection is not the dominant narrative in my life. And even as much as it hurts, I remain grateful for the life I have. If her rejection is what was needed in order for me to find my adopted family, I’m okay with that.


  6. As a birth mother, 1967, I believe it is impossible for an emotionally intact woman to carry a baby without feeling love and care for the child forever. However, societies have little acceptance of childbirth outside of marriage. The era when you were born was particularly callous in its treatment of birth mothers, and we bear scars of guilt for the rest of our lives. We were asked to construct a set of lies and live with them daily, both with friends and family. We are convinced that we do not deserve a relationship with our birth children, and become used to a lifelong sense of loss. I hope you can forgive your birth mother for the pain she has caused by what you receive as rejection. It is a rejection and shame that she has felt since before you were born.

    I experienced a reunion with my birth daughter some years ago, and it has brought both joy and a recognition that some wounds never heal. I had to give up the illusion that I had placed my daughter in a perfect family, and I had to find ways to “out” myself as a birth mother, one who could not find another way to have what I truly wanted, which was to keep my baby without shame or remorse. I also learned that rejection does not go away with reunion.

    If you haven’t read it, I suggest “The Girls Who Went Away,” by Ann Fessler.


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