A few nights ago I lied next to Michael in his bed, gently rubbing his back, as his little body oozed with anger. “I wish I could take away your angry feelings,” I said, “I wish I had a big, giant sponge that could just soak up all of your sadness and bad memories and pain.”
For a while it was quiet, then he began to talk. He talked about missing his other biological brother who lives in another city with another family. He told me stories about living in the shelter (where they were for three months before he and his brother came home to us), about a boy who was mean to him there. He told me that his brothers were the only ones there to protect him, and he was so small.
I told him I wished I could have been there to protect him.
He told me about missing his “real mom,” which is what some idiot therapist coached him to call his birth mother when he was in foster care with another family. Because the one who gave birth to him, and then neglected and abandoned him, is the real mom, right? Didn’t he know, or at least hope, that this little boy might have someone in his life in the future more worthy of that title, someone who would truly be a real mom to him?
I think Mother’s Day will always be a hard day for me. Because no matter what I do, no matter how much I love and care for my sons, I will never be the one they long for on this day. I could become the most amazing mom there ever was and it wouldn’t be enough. I will never be able to fill up the hurt in their hearts, the gaping hole she left behind.
It’s a painful realization, but it’s important to understand. My children have pain in their hearts deeper than I could ever imagine.
I have an amazing mom, the absolute best, who has never left me, who has always loved me, who endured all kinds of hardships and struggles to be there for me and provide for my needs and give me a happy life, who has sacrificed so much for me and still does.
I am so thankful. Not everyone is so lucky.
The older of my sons who endured abuse on top of abandonment and neglect may never be able to fully accept love, or love in return, and it’s especially unlikely for him to be able to do this with someone in the role of mother.
Both of my sons will always have a loss and a longing that I do not know and cannot fill.
But I can be the one who lies with them in their anger.
I can be the one who listens to their stories.
I can be the one who protects them now.
I can be the one who keeps loving them even when they do mean and hateful things.
I can be the one who builds them up and helps them come to believe that they are valuable and good and worthy of being loved.
I can keep cheering them on even after they have given up on themselves.
I can be the one who stays, who never abandons them.
I can be the one who never gives up.
And isn’t that what being a real mom is all about?