Thursday, August 30, 2007

Grown In The Heart

Posted by Anonymous.

I’m crying tonight. I’m sad tonight. I’m angry tonight.

It wouldn’t be so bad if those facts somehow distinguished tonight from the last and the one before that, but it doesn’t.

I want to rewind a bit, that for you the basement dwellers to know who I am.

I grew up in a small town, with 4 older brothers, two adoring parents who have been married 38 years now, two special grandmothers, and many friends. I did not dream anything that I wasn’t given the opportunity to accomplish. That said, life was never easy. I was adopted, and while my adopted parents were fantastic, I had a rough start in life, my fetal hood, and tiny baby hood (taken away by state at 2 months old) caused some nutritional issues that hold me still today. Depression has also followed me all the days of my life.

I got through school and chose to pursue a career in animal science, using it to breed horses, the kind I’ve ridden since I was almost 5, in horse shows. At the time I’d already been an assistant at my show barn and helped my coach in all the aspects of her job. I was hired there while attending school, I loved it. I thanked God everyday for giving me a job I’d always love.

Then it happened, one of my best friends up until that point and time had strayed a bit into drugs and alcohol and one day in 2002, when I was 20, she told me she was pregnant.

I was scared, she was still heavily using drugs, I was scared for her, for the baby. I took her in. I suddenly was keeping an apartment, buying everything, and caring for my friend. She promised to get help, and got on Methadone, but ended up using that on top of the other. The baby was taken 6 weeks early due to heart issues. Thankfully it ended up to be nothing. Then one day, when getting ready to leave for work, I noticed her baby, then only 3 weeks old was crying nonstop, I went to check on him and found a note.

She said she’d be back, a few days. My parents and I cared for him, we waited and waited, she came back, 10 months later. I was petrified the entire 9 months that I had him alone. Would the authorities find out? What if he got sick, I couldn’t take him to the doctor unless it was bad. Then the authorities would find out her abandonment. She came back she stayed a year, and then my health declined terribly. I was hospitalized in ICU for 14 days, and when I returned home she’d left with the boy, a boy that I had loved so much…losing him nearly killed me. I wouldn’t see them again for a year. Then I saw them off and on until October 2004, when she called to say she was pregnant again.

It was the same scenario different baby. Except this time she decided she didn’t want the children at all. Neither of them, she wanted to move on do college, start over, and naturally, me, who was up to my neck in a job that requires me to be able to work long hours, and travel, travel like I’ve always wanted too, was her choice to give the kids too. I’ve ridden horses in expeditions in places as far away as New Zealand and Australia (I’m from USA), it was a dream job.

I didn’t know what to do, but I will tell you, you don’t care for a baby for 9 months, you don’t sit up with him at night while he teethes, rock him when he’s cranky, stumble down the hall at 2am when he wants to play, and not love him. And holding that newborn in my arms I could not allow her to hurt them anymore. She signed over legal custody and continued her downhill spiral towards her eventual overdose and death, and I walked into life as a single mother of two, by default.

Sounds great right, and it partially is. Believe me, I don’t care what type of scars or stretch marks, no one out there has gone through more to get their babies than I have. I may not have labored physical pain but mentally I have walked the shattered wilderness more times than I needed. I am their mother, I can prove it…

I can change a diaper in the dark, even a dirty one, and I have walked the floor because it’s the only way he’d stop crying. I’ve been up all night with a newborn and up all day with a toddler. I have potty trained one, hopefully soon another. I have bought the clothes and dressed the kids, I have lost more socks than I could count, I’ve bottle fed and burped, showered in spit-up. I have cried while holding them for their shots. I’ve had to say no, to break up fights, to use timeout, to swat butts. I’ve been through lice, and chicken pox, and super poison ivy. I have done fevers of 105, and limp hot babies in my arm at er. I have done suppositories, and vomit. I’ve done 3 bed changes in one night. I’ve also chased behind the bicycle, explained why you have to wear helmets and sit in car-seats. I’ve done first day of preschool, most recently, I have done heartbreakingly: First Day Of Kindergarten.

I’ve done sleepless nights, more than one in a row. I’ve done ADHD, and fetal alcohol syndrome. I’ve done behavioral therapy, and speech therapy, and run them here, and him there, and him somewhere else. I’ve done soccer, and t-ball, and basketball. I’ve done skinned knees and broken hearts, a lot of the time my own.

I LOVE MY BOYS.

I hate my friend. She’s dead and I seem to hate her even more.

In her selfishness she hurt two little boys. She laid them off on me knowing I’d give up everything I’ve worked so ridiculously hard for, to work a kid compatible job I hate, to run them back and forth from this and that and another, to deal with their various issues which she gave them. She knew me, and she knew I’d do it. Sometimes, when I’m not looking at their beautiful faces, I wish I wasn’t that person, the one who said sure, I’ll drop everything, change everything, over night, say the word, and I’m there.

When the baby was born and I decided to take them both she called me her hero. I got rid of my 2 door sports car and upgraded to a 4 door highlander. I slowly over time cut back my barn hours from 40-60 hour weeks depending on shows, training, lessons planned, to next to nothing. I haven’t shown now in over a year. My life consist of laundry, and more laundry, and saying no, don’t hit your brother until I’m blue in the face.

I love my boys. I miss me. I worry. I worry about them, my 5 year old kindergartener can’t talk well enough for you to understand him. He’s been in speech therapy for 2 years now. He’s had surgery twice on his ears, probably another soon. He has adhd, which I help him control with breathing exercises, most likely he’ll require medication before long. He has FAS, and is socially awkward. His brother faired much better, he’s behind over all in everything, but I think he’s going to be okay eventually.

I was engaged at the time of taking in both boys and that engagement was broken off because the gentleman who was nice, didn’t want to be responsible for the boys. Most of my friends were barn people, and while they have gone on in search of the next great horse I’m stuck up to my eyeballs in diapers and fear.

Do you hear me, do you realize that people, maybe even people just like you have made me who I am? People in my own family act like I’m less of a mother because I did not bear my children. You were lucky, for the most part, so you had to labor and pained through that. Big fuggin deal, you also probably had a few months notice. You also probably had the ability to eat right and not fill your body drugs and alcohol and gave your babies half a chance. You probably didn’t have to give up literally everything, the man you loved, a job you loved, a lifestyle you loved, for an entirely different way of life, the very next day.

What really makes someone a mother? I’m so tired of not fitting in. But I don’t. My old friends want the old me. I can’t even find her anymore. I still love to ride, but now its an escape. I’m not excited about the next better horse I can ride, I just want to love this one. For this one to take me away, for the wind to blow my hair, for the smells of horse sweat and leather to become me again. Other young mothers in my area, have either heard how I unauthentic ally got my children or eventually find out somehow (remember small town gossip) and somehow the fact that I have not given birth, means that my worry will be different than everyone else’s, my hurt, my experiences raising children…different. My advice, useless.

Someone, someone other than my mom and dad please open your eyes and see my mommy badge. My little boys gave it to me, and maybe not when I gave them life, but their birth was the easy part, even for their mother. I’ve taught them to love, to be nice to animals, to care about people, I’ve held their hand through so many of life’s up and downs. I’ve been mama, and mommy. I’ve dried tears, I’ve known that fear when they cut loose from you in the parking lot, or run ahead a few isles in the store. I’ve done the mundane everyday things for almost 3 years now, and even some time before that. I was there when they felt their first major loss, when our dog died, and they hurt. Oddly they were there oddly enough a month and 10 days later when my aunt died in a freak accident, something that only happens in the movies, they had their own devastations then, but I sure held on to them for hope.

Please, someone please, don’t make me explain myself, explain my love. When I have another child, it won't be a child of my own, these are children of my own…they just didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.

47 comments:

Just Me said...

that is beautifully written and I agree with every word you wrote.

As a mother who went through labor then a c-section, I don't count that part of it all as what makes me a mother. I am not a mother because my child came out of me, I am a mother because of what my child has grown to be since.

Karen said...

You are every bit a mother, don't ever let anyone make you think otherwise.

Maerlowe said...

You are a mom. Your boys are your boys.

The different is hard. I know.

Nancy said...

Believe me -- ALL moms struggle with the loss (or change) of identity. Even those of us who planned and mentally prepared for motherhood. It's normal that you, who had it thrust on you so suddenly and picked it up so wonderfully, would be struggling as well.

But don't let anyone insinuate that you are not a mother. It's in your heart, it's in your soul.

Thanks for sharing your story, Momma.

The Hotfessional said...

{hugs}

I wish, with all my heart, that I could reach out to you and hug you and console you. You are far, far more of a Mommy than a lot of mothers that I know.

Keep with it sweetie. Your boys will know. And the others? They truly are the losers.

Andrea said...

Not only are you a Mommy, but you are a beautiful person. And you did give them life. You may not have birthed them, but if left with their biological mother, they would not have a life, a real life, like they have with you. You're more a mother than she ever was. People give men credit for the difference between a father and a Daddy, and you should be given the same credit.

In the meantime, as you raise those wonderful boys, I hope you can find a balance between yourself and Mommy that so many strive for. One that will allow you to get excited once again for the next great horse.

flutter said...

You are a mother. You are what makes a mother, and you are phenomenal.

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing person for taking in those 2 boys and giving them the love they deserve. Maybe finding a play group and other mommy friends who understand what you are dealing with would help. Until you have kids, you can't understand how much life changes. Its not just about diapers and spit up. Its about finding a new self too.

motherbumper said...

You are a mother, you are, you are, you are. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

dkaz said...

You are absolutely their mother and so much more - you have taken on so much more than someone who plans a pregnancy with a mate. You accepted those two lucky children and have sacrificed so much of your personal freedom and satisfaction.
About 11 years ago, a friend of mine took in her niece and nephew when her sister & Brother-in-law were killed in a car accident. She is their mother - 100%. She is a single woman who hasn't married and she has the huge responsibility of caring for these two children, singlehandedly like you.
Don't worry what other people think of you - and don't explain either. You are their mother - if you believe it, everyone else will too.
Maybe if you were able to find a group of adoptive parents to connect with, you could find some support and maybe even families for you and your sons to socialize with.

Avalon said...

How about finding some playgroups away from your small town, where local gossips don't feel the need to judge you, your boys or your history? With some new people who also have young children, you can simply be a Mommy who loves her two little boys......not a Mommy who feels under scrutiny.

I was a teenaged mother many years ago, single and feeling very, very left out. I constantly felt as if I was being judged, as if people were expecting me to fail. I understand some of your pain.

Major Bedhead said...

People are incredible. I can't believe that anyone would look at you as though you weren't those kids' mother. Of course you are.

I agree with the suggestion to try and find a play group in another town.

I've often struggled against losing who I am now that I have kids. I think that's more common than people let on. Could you take a class or give riding lessons or, heck, learn underwater basket weaving? Something, anything, that's all yours, that doesn't involve your children. Maybe your parents could babysit once a week or even once a month. Do they know that you're feeling this consumed by motherhood? If not, a talk with them might help, too. They may not realize that you want a little time alone, a little space to be just YOU, not mama, not mommy, just you.

For whatever it's worth, from some stranger on the internet, I think what you've done is incredibly selfless and brave.

Feels Like Home said...

Any idiot can give birth.
It takes a very special person to be able to raise kids and love them. It takes an even more special person to do the same for children that aren't "theirs"
Don't let small minded people get you down. Easier said than done but please try to take comfort in the fact that you are a wonderful person and you are doing the best you can for yolur children.

Anonymous said...

You _are_ their mother. I'd take my two labors without an epidural any day over the pain YOU had to endure to get your two children! Sure, you didn't give birth to them, but they are YOURS. I'm so sorry to hear about their extra difficulties due to their biological mother's poor choices during pregnancy. It's another thing you've got to deal with that makes what you're doing even more ... I don't want to say heroic, because part of your point is that you're doing what ANY mother would do - care for her children - ... but that you're dealing with the consequences of someone else's bad choices, and will do so forever.

Because they're your kids.

And you're their mother.

Period.

margalit said...

You are their mother, 100% You took those babies in with love in your heart, and that love has grown every day you have nurtured them. You are their mother through the bad times, the good times, and will be forever. They are your children. If your neighbors are so simpleminded that they can't see this, then it's time to look beyond them and reach out for real moms who get it. You did that here. You can do it elsewhere, too.

You're a mom. You're a good mom. You'll always be their mom. And some day, you'll get your life back. Every mom loses something of themselves when they become a mother. They'll go to school, they'll be involved in their own lives, and you can get back to yours, too.

But you will always be their mother.

Lara said...

not only are you a mother, you are a wonderful and loving mother. i'm actually quite angry on your behalf that anyone would ever believe otherwise. there are SO many children in this world who would be lucky to have a mother like you - your boys are very lucky.

i have no memory of my mom giving birth to me, though i know from her that she did. it's all the stuff you talk about here - the walking, the teaching, the supporting - that makes me love and appreciate her. if i'd been adopted, it wouldn't change a thing.

i hope writing this and reading all these words of support is healing for you.

Lisa b said...

You are their mother and you are doing an incredible job raising them. Sometimes when I think my life is hard I think of the single moms doing it all by themselves. I admire you.

Mommato2 said...

Not only are you their Momma in EVERY sense of the word, you sound like a damn good one. They are lucky to have you.

Even though your friend sounds like she was pretty messed up, she certainly made the right decision by trusting you.

Hang in there and someday your boys will know how lucky they are to have you!

Anonymous said...

you are a saint and someone i respect greatly. as someone who works in child welfare, i am sooo glad these children have someone aint aren't part of the fostercare system. you've given them a chance in life and taught them about love and dedication and are more of a mother then there mother would ever be.

you are an inspiration.
and hell you will ride a horse again, when they are older, and there are more hours in the day!!

nell said...

I think that there is something about being the mother of young children that makes almost anyone feel isolated and alone. Of course your experience is different, but not really, you are a great mother, and ultimately, that is what will make all the difference in your boys lives.

I also felt left out when it came to other mothers - they all seemed older and more together than I was, and I had no idea what I was doing. But eventually I realized that none of us really has any idea what we're doing, and it made me feel a lot better.

As for losing your former self, I don't know what to say except that my heart goes out to you, and even those of us who had months to prepare sometimes feel that way. I can't imagine having everything change overnight. I hope things start to improve for you and you find some good non-judgy friends soon.

Maria said...

I just wanted to let you know that I am the adoptive Mother of a little boy born to a Methodone addicted mother. He has FAS and ADHD and we live at Easter Seals for speech and occupational therapy.

One day his Biological father reffered to me as "her" and called my sons biological mother "mommy." I was heart broken.

I can't imagine that any Mother could look at you and think that you are somehow less connected to your children simply because you didn't birth them. You should know that there are people out there who understand; there are a lot of Mothers who are living the same every day as you.

Hang in there!

Rebecca said...

Beautifully written. You wear your mommy badge with honor & hold your head up high. You know you have it & so do your boys - that's all that really matters. When you have another child the only difference you'll experience is the pregnancy & labor. The rest is the same. It is a great thing that you have done & I respect and admire you for it. You chose to love these boys and care for them, that makes your mothering even more special.

Jaelithe said...

You are an amazing person to have taken these children in and made them your own.

All mothers have to give up dreams, at least temporarily, for the sake of their children. All mothers lose some childless friends who can't understand the priority shifts that are essential to parenting. All mothers sometimes feel like they are losing themselves. It was these choices that made you a mother. These sacrifices you have made are the badge of your motherhood, no matter what anyone says.

Of course you have hateful feelings toward your kids' bio-mom sometimes. She hurt your children. I would have hateful feelings toward someone who hurt my child, too. I think this is normal and you should not feel ashamed as long as you manage to keep those feelings hidden from your kids until they are old enough to understand.

I think there is something amazingly beautiful about the fact that, just as you were saved as a child, you are now saving two more children.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mom,
You are doing a fantastic job. What a great family you have made for us. We know you love us and have sacrificed for us, and we are grateful.
Please keep in mind that we will grow up and you will get more time for yourself and your pleasures. Promise. It won't always be this hard.
For now, please occasionally, give yourself a break and go riding for pleasure, even if just an hour. We will be fine.

Love,
Your Sons

Anonymous said...

I think we all feel a little on the outskirts of "real parents" sometimes. Whether we're older or younger than the norm, have one child or six, are working moms or SAHM's... whatever it is, we judge ourselves harshly against what we think is the norm and suffer unnecessarily for it. Your boys are young and it's hard to have any sense of "self", especially when you're a single mom. BUT, they will get older, and you will have some more options to get back to your horses and your work.

I think you are a saint and a gem and wonderful mother. As soon as you truly wear that badge, others will accept it and honour you for it.

ewe are here said...

You are a truly amazing woman. And mother. And mom. I am in awe of what you have been through to get your two boys. They are so lucky to have you as their mom.

Never, ever let anyone tell you the you're not a 'real' mom. You are. You so are. People who feel that way aren't worth your time.

Mean Mommy said...

You're a momma and a half, and those boys are the luckiest boys in the world to have you. I hereby bestow upon you a gigantic mommy badge.

This post was so beautifully written, I posted it on Mommy Blog Round up. Let me know if you'd rather I took it down:
http://mommyblogroundup.blogspot.com/

MamaMichelsBabies said...

Next time anyone would make you feel like anything less then the Mother you are to those two boys.. look into the eyes of those children, that look they have, as they call you Mama, that's your badge right there hun. And that's all the world needs to know.

{hugs}

K said...

You will always be mom to your boys. Really, it doesn't matter what other think. You and your boys know the truth.

Make sure you take time for yourself. Easier said than done, I know, but it is so important for everyone!

You can always post here and we will remind you what a wonderful mom you are!

Katy

Anonymous said...

You ARE their mommy.

Biology doesn't make a mother--love does.

Serendipity, baby! said...

You're their mum and I'd happily offer to kick anyone in the groin area who says or insinuates otherwise.

Christie said...

You are a wonderful person and a wonderful mom! Anyone can give birth -- but to give LIFE and all of its lessons is the hard part! Those boys are so blessed to have you, and I know you feel blessed to have them.

No Nonsense girl said...

you are your boys's mother. :) an amazing one!

Screw those who believe otherwise!

Omaha Mama said...

Who, but a mom, would agonize like this? You are a beautiful person for it.

Have you discussed equine (sp?) therapy with your boys' case worker? Do they have a case worker? If not, they should. Make sure that you are utilizing all of the assistance you are capable of qualifying for. Especially respite care for your young sons. It will be okay, just make sure that you take time for yourself too.

Good luck!

Cathy said...

How could you not be a mother when you just defined motherhood so beautifully?

And that loneliness you describe? That feeling of having lost yourself?

It seems, for many of us, to be a part of motherhood too, regardless our how our babies arrived.

You need a support system, and it sounds like you haven't found one in local moms' groups. But what about a support group for adoptive parents? Are there any in your area?

You are a strong and courageous woman. Your children are incredibly lucky.

I hope you are able to find some peace. I feel sure you will.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe anyone would be stupid enough to question your status as a mom. Those two boys are your sons, you are their mom. Period.

Becky said...

I am not prone to tears for much of anything, but I am sitting here crying onto the keyboard for you and all of your selflessness and beautiful words.

You are an amazing woman and your two boys are so lucky to have you in their life. I wish we lived close so that we could meet up and hang with the boys.

Anonymous said...

*MASSIVE HUGS*

Angela said...

You touched my heart.

mamalang said...

I, too, had a similar experience with my nephew when I was in my early 20's except I lost him to his mother completely when he was 5. I, like you, was more of a mother to him than his own mother...and it hurt when he was taken away. I married a man with a daughter, she has lived with us full time for almost 9 years...I dare anyone to tell me that I am not her mother. Just as you are those boys mother. I'm saddened that not one person in that town can see that for you...I hope you find someone to give you that support soon.


{{{hugs}}}

DDM said...

I want to grab onto you and give you the biggest hug I can. I have SO much respect for you, the mama of those two little boys.

I have a special needs kiddo, and I understand your worry. I also understand your anger. My son's issues were caused by his birth, and my inability to stand up and SCREAM at the delivering Doctor. There are days that I'm still SO ANGRY!!! I know it's not the same situation as yours, but you aren't the only one who gets just plain mad about the situation they and their child was forced in to.
If you are anywhere near me, Washington state, I will SO watch your boys and hand you the reins to my 6 year old Quarter Horse for as much wind in your hair as you want. My mom says that (could be someone else's quote, not sure) there's something about the outside of a horse, that is good for the inside of a woman. After each scary diagnosis of my son, and after his brain surgery I spent many hours riding in circles, streaming snotsicles out my nose and crying my eyes out. I've recently had the second of two miscarriages since May and I'm anticipating the green light from my Doctor so I can go cry it out on horseback yet again. I too, don't get to ride as much as I'd like to because it's tough to find a sitter, as you well know. Take every opportunity you get to go and do it, please. BIG HUGS for you.

Anonymous said...

You are more of a Mother than my own was and she gave birth to me.

I know that you are sacrificing a lot right now but you will one day have 2 grown boys who will give you a big hug and say "Thanks,Mom".

This is not an easy job but I think that God put you in that position because you are a very strong individual.

Take a deep breath and remember to pat yourself on the back. You are a great MOM !!

Anonymous said...

Of course you're a bloody mother. And, frankly, I find it odd that anybody would insinuate otherwise. Go Mum! You are a splendid thing, honestly!

pkzcass said...

I am in awe of you.

Jennifer said...

You are an amazing person to have opened your heart this way, and your generosity of spirit will surely be rewarded by karma and/or god. You are clearly the most loving and devoted of mothers, and your boys know that whatever anyone else says.

Anonymous said...

Of course you are a mother. Perhaps the people you think are looking at you as 'not a mom' aren't. Perhaps they look at you and marvel. I would. You are an amazing, wonderful, strong MOTHER and woman. Bless you.

Jill said...

You are more of a mother than those of us who did it thru labor- you did it thru love.