My name is Erica, and I am not your traditional “mom”. I am a single 23-year-old who lives and works in downtown Boston, but I am what some would call a “birthmother”. On this Mother’s Day I am going to get out of bed and stand tall with my shoulders back. I am going to have a smile on my face with a heart full of love, and be just as proud of my son and my family as any other mother out there, because this is a day to celebrate.
I have always shared a special bond with my mother. Even as a 23-year-old adult, all my friends and family will tell you that the relationship I share with my mom is extraordinary.
When my mom was only 17 years-old her mother died of breast cancer. My mom grew up looking up to her older sister as a mother figure to be there for her when her mother was not able to be. Throughout her major milestones of her college graduation, engagement, wedding, birth of my two brothers and myself, my mom found her mother figure in her older sister and friends. From her nontraditional maternal role models throughout her years, she managed to fully grasp what it meant to truly be a mother when it was her turn.
Now, I am not your traditional “mom”. I am a single 23-year-old who lives and works in downtown Boston, but I am what some would call a “birthmother”. I placed my son with his adoptive parents five days after his birth last summer; July of 2015. During those five days of taking care of my son in the hospital, I experienced the truest of miracles: a mother’s love.
When I discovered I was pregnant it was a complete shock. My life drastically flipped and the next three months my 24/7 turned into planning out the rest of my son’s and my life. I needed the support of my parents throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, which made me hit the pause button on my life, pack up out of the city, and move back into my childhood home with my parents.
I will never forget seven months into my pregnancy when I found myself waking up on Mother’s Day morning feeling sad and confused about my own identity. I was leaning towards adoption, and had already met the couple who would ultimately be my son’s future mom and dad. I was 99% sure that I was going through with this adoption, but I had not made the official announcement yet. Everyone seemed to have an idea that adoption was going to be my decision, as I was continuing to build a relationship with my son’s future parents. I had even made plans for them to come to my parents’ house for a barbecue the following weekend with one of my brothers.
It was a Sunday morning and my parents were at church. I went downstairs to my parents’ kitchen and put on a pot of decaf coffee. I planned to surprise my mom when she got home from church with a special homemade Mother’s Day breakfast. I finished cooking and sat down with tears in my eyes writing my mom her Mother’s Day card. Writing has always been my ‘thing’. I put a lot of thought into every card I pick out and what exactly I want to write in it. It became custom that every time I wrote a card to my parents I somehow manage to get a little choked up, however, this time it was different. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for all of my mother’s love and support through this difficult time. I thought to myself—how amazingly lucky am I? I have parents who are incredibly accepting of adversity, and a mother who will literally hold my hand through everything when I need her.
I wiped a tear from under my eye and smiled at the thought of how ridiculous my mom had been since the day I found out I was pregnant.
On days where I found it hard to smile, my mom would dedicate her whole entire day to trying to make me laugh. I would be sitting at the kitchen table working, only to be quickly interrupted by the whole house shaking to the surround sound system blaring “Caught Up” by Usher. “It’s time to dance! Get up. We haven’t had a dance party in a while.” And there she was—singing her heart out and dancing around the living room. She would not stop until my face was lit with a smile and I was out there dancing right next to her.
When I could not sleep at night and needed to talk, my mom would be right there with me. She would stay up until one in the morning listening to me repeat the same feelings, worries, and concerns over and over to her; yet, somehow she would continue to come up with something new to say to help ease my mind. On nights where I had nothing to say, but still could not sleep, she would lay in my bed and stare up at the ceiling with me until my eyelids got too heavy to keep open.
There was even one time I had a doctor’s appointment and on our way down to Boston she pulled over to our local farm stand to get our favorite ice cream. On our way home from the appointment I began to cry about how scared I was for all this change that would be taking place in my life in only a few short weeks. She got off the exit in our town and made a right turn. “Where are you going? You missed the turn” I said. “I know, we’re going to get some more ice cream… we need it tonight.”
As I was writing her card, I felt so blessed for my mother. Despite the gratitude I was feeling for my mom, I was still confused about my own identity and what exactly I should be feeling on this day.
“We’re home!” I hear my mom say, I signed my name at the end of her card and turned around to see my mom and dad walking into the kitchen with huge smiles on their faces. “Happy Mother’s Day” I said, as I walked over to give my mom a hug. “Thank you!” My mom leaned in and kissed me. “Happy Mother’s Day to you, Erica.” She pulled her hands out from behind her back and gave me a bouquet of flowers and my favorite candies. “I’m your mom, and you are Aiden’s* mom. This will always be our day from now on— welcome to the club!”
There are many things I have learned from my mother throughout my 23 years. How to tame my crazy curls. How to apply makeup and do the perfect cat eye with my gel eyeliner. How to jam out in the car to Stevie Wonder after a bad day. How to be optimistic when something does not seem to be going your way. How to trust in God and keep faith in times where you feel alone. How to be thoughtful and think of others before yourself. How to keep a list of all the things I am grateful for and pull it out to read when I am feeling down. How to be kind. How to love unconditionally. I can go on and on, but the most important thing my mom has ever taught me, through no lesson at all, is: how to be a mother.
When I made my final decision on adoption, my mom told me this year would be a year of firsts. My new role as a Mère would take time to get used to. Some days will be harder than others, but most days will be so beautiful that they will make up for the hard days.
She is right. There are many occasions where my mind wanders to all of the moments that have and will take place during this year of ‘Aiden’s firsts’. It is an unexplainable feeling knowing most of these events I will not traditionally be a part of. Memories like Aiden’s first bath at home, his first laugh, first holidays, the first time he can sit up on his own, his first tooth growing in, the first time he crawls, the first time he tries solid foods, the first time he reaches up on his own to be held and embraced. These are all things your typical mother is there for; for me it is a little different. Sometimes it can be sad, because I wish I could know all the details of every little thing that goes on in Aiden’s every day.
On these days I dig deep to find the strength to remind myself of how blessed I am to be a part of Mia*, Nate*, and Aiden’s lives. I remember how lucky I am that Mia and Nate make me and my family feel just as important and special to them as their own families. I know I can pull out my phone and send a quick text to Mia, knowing she will respond with a beautiful picture of Aiden and tell me how excited they are to get together again soon.
I watch my son with his mother and it is impossible not to notice his natural connection with her. The way his big brown eyes look up at her with love. The way he laughs when he catches her smile, and the way his body relaxes when she picks him up and holds him close to her chest. The bond they share is breath taking. There has not been a time where I have been around my son and his mom where I do not notice myself getting choked up. It does not happen because I am sad, or jealous. I get choked up, because I am able to share this maternal connection with such an amazing woman who encourages my relationship with my son. I get choked up at the thought that God chose me to bring together this family, and be a part of such a beautiful story of love.
As Mother’s Day gets closer I know I am going to have family members, friends, and coworkers who might not know how to approach me on this special day. I know they will wonder whether or not they should wish me a happy Mother’s Day, not knowing if it would upset me, because I do not raise Aiden.
On this Mother’s Day I am going to get out of bed and stand tall with my shoulders back. I am going to have a smile on my face with a heart full of love, and be just as proud of my son and my family as any other mother out there, because this is a day to celebrate.
I will celebrate my Grandmother in heaven who looks down and watches over her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I will celebrate my Memere who just became a great grandmother through the birth of Aiden. I will celebrate my aunts who have made sacrifices for their families throughout the years. I will celebrate my cousins who I have looked up to my whole life and have enjoyed watching become mothers. I will celebrate my mom who has been my rock, role model, and best friend for the past 23 years. I will celebrate my son’s mother, Mia, who has taught me that there is no such thing as too much love. Who has given me the security and identity I was always looking for, by acknowledging my maternal love for Aiden and suggesting for me the title of, Mère.
Although I am not your traditional mother, this day is just as much mine as it is any other mother’s out there. One thing I have learned about being a mother from all of these amazing women in my life, and the most important thing that we all have in common, is: a mother’s love.
It is selfless and pure. We love genuinely, emotionally, and unconditionally. We love so deeply that we do not hesitate to make sacrifices for our children in order to give them the best life possible.
So, if you happen to see me on this special day, do not be afraid to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, because I will be celebrating. I will be celebrating for myself, and for all the other mothers and ‘birthmothers’ out there who share a mother’s love.
Happy Mother’s Day to you, Mia. You are Aiden’s mom, and I am Aiden’s Mère. This will always be our day from now on— welcome to the club!