I’m sure that every mom at some point has the fear that their child will one day “hate” them or tell them they wished they lived with someone else or tell them they wished they weren’t their mom. I think it’s a normal thing. I’m not sure I ever said those words aloud to my parents, but I know I thought them. I wished I could live with my aunts or my cousins many times. Deep down, I never really meant any of it, and I knew that living somewhere else wasn’t going to be better than the life I had growing up, still, kids can be mean and say hurtful things.
The phrase I’m most worried about hearing: “You’re not my real mom.”
Now, we can debate what makes a person a “real” mom, but I hope all people can agree that biology is the least of what makes someone a mom. (Dad too, but for purposes of this blog, we’ll use mom.) Also, I need to clarify that I’m not talking about bio moms who place their children for adoption – I think my feelings on those women are very clear from previous entries, but if you’re just joining the blog with this post, I have tremendous respect for birthmothers. Those women are the definition of selfless love personified. Being a mom is so much more than giving birth. Being a mom is giving LIFE. It’s rocking and singing to your baby. It’s waking up multiple times at night because your kids need you. It’s potty training a stubborn 3 year old. It’s being a chauffeur, doling out millions of kisses, listening, giving enough-but not too much-advice, disciplining, giving your kids independence but knowing when to pull back, making lunches, covering books, helping with homework, watching your kids succeed, watching your kids fail, giving hugs, and lots and lots and lots of love.
But, unfortunately, being a mom is (typically) legally defined through biology, and so many people don’t understand how you can be a mom if you haven’t physically had a child, especially kids. Kids are literal. They know babies grow in mommy’s tummies, and when a baby doesn’t grow in their mommy’s tummy it can be confusing – not for the child necessarily if it’s explained properly, but for his friends and for the rest of the world.
So, here’s one of my deepest fears – Vincent will be maybe 12ish years old, get mad at me for something preteens get mad at their parents about and scream, “You’re not my real mom.” I’m sure he’ll regret it immediately after he says it, but it’s always in the back of my mind. Am I doing the right thing? Am I raising him the best way I possibly can? Am I truly giving him the life he deserves? Maybe all moms feel this way, but let me speak as an adoptive mom for a second.
I’m terrified. I’m terrified that maybe somehow, somewhere, someone will actually say the words “She’s not your real mom” to him, and he’ll think it’s true. Like I’m some sort of mom equivalent of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I don’t really exist in his “real” (read: biological) world. And I know. I know what the research says. I know what other kids/teens/adults who were adopted say. I KNOW Vincent will always think of me and know me as his “real” mom.
It doesn’t mean I’m not scared. It doesn’t mean I don’t think that somehow I’ll do something unintentional to totally screw him up somehow. I’m terrified I won’t live up to his birthparents expectations. I’m terrified I won’t live up to my parent’s expectations, society’s expectations, MY expectations for being a parent. It’s hard to explain, but somehow I feel responsible to so many people for how my son grows up. These are all expectations I’m putting on myself, I realize, but I’m very curious if any other adoptive mommies feel a similar way. Do you feel that since your child was born to other people, you are hoping to live up to their expectations of what a mother should look like? Do you feel like you want to do the best job you possibly can – not only for your child, but for their birthparents as well? They did give me the greatest gift I could’ve ever received – the least I can do is raise my son the best way I know how, for him, for me, and for them.
I know that all moms (bio, birth, step, adoptive, etc.) are “real” moms. I know biology is only one piece of the puzzle. But, I also know that for some people it’s a big piece of the puzzle, and adoption is something that hard to fit into their “real” world.