Happy Birth Mother’s Day: A Brief History

You are // made from everything // That I am // We are // made from everything // That the stars are // I can feel // Your heart beat // Within mine // The rhythm // Of a blood that runs deep // Through valleys and peaks // I watched you dance in the snow capped pinnacle // Of my middle // No matter the distance // I feel your pulse // Your vibe // You’re part of my tribe // Drum circles // Chanting and channeling //Ancestors // Deeply rooted // DNA threads // cross-stitched generations dance in our heads // You // my first love // From the start // A part // Of my dream... – excerpt from a Birthday poem.

On May 12, 1990 was the first Birth Mother’s Day celebration in Seattle, Washington, held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. It was created and founded by women who had formed adoption plans for their children. Today is the 31st anniversary of Birth Mother’s Day. 

Each year on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, we can honor Birth Mothers, the Mothers who placed their children with adoptive families. The intent of the day, was/is to honor and support Birth Mothers as the world around them prepares to celebrate the women who are parenting their children.

This day originated as a day of solidarity, education, and compassion, though it also is a mixture of emotions for various Mamas. For example, I have found in my experience that many of the older generations of women who placed their children, are revolted by this term. I was a part of a FB group for Birth Mothers and I received a volatile backlash from some regarding a “Happy Birth Mother’s Day” post I made 2 years ago. Many of these women had really ill experiences with the adoption process and still suffer strained relationships with their grown children that they’ve met much later in life, if at all. For those women, whom I have the upmost respect for, they want to only be referred to as Mother. 

I, on the other hand was introduced to this term in the late 90s/early 2000s as an aging teen mom/not a real mom, who was invited to a Birth Mother’s Luncheon. Learning this term then was healing for me. It gave me a sense of identity during a time I was unraveling in the dark of daily existence. I wouldn’t even say I was surviving, I was in a perpetual state of needing to be numb, you can use your imagination here. I didn’t even have the ability to admit I had placed my daughter for adoption for 10 years!!

 For 10 years I avoided conversations about where my daughter was, people knew I was pregnant and then I wasn’t.I left 10th grade for 2 weeks (having been conveniently suspended for 10 days for fighting!) gave birth and came back not pregnant i in my pre-pregnancy clothes (teenagers have the ultimate snap back). People thought my daughter was at home or with an aunt, I became a skilled at switching subjects. I carried around floating shards of my heart in my chest cavity to the degree that sometimes I would flat out say no when asked if I had kids so I wouldn’t have to admit that I had a baby, but I didn’t have a baby. That I hadn’t even left the hospital with my baby, voiceless and choiceless. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my postpartum body care and in solitude, I carried confusion, shame and regret. The term Birth Mother hasn’t erased the pain that I’ve felt, but it gave me a degree of understanding and compassion. It empowered me when I needed language and words to make some sense of who I was, especially as an “out of control” pregnant teen.

I have had one of the more positive experiences with adoption than most people have heard. Our adoption agreement was very open, it’s why I picked her family. I was able to speak with my daughter by phone almost anytime that I wanted. We met in person a few times a year, exchanged snail mail, and as we got older, I would spend holidays and weekends with her. For her 13th birthday, her parents were open enough to allow the 2 of us to take a train from DC to NYC together for a long weekend. At 16, she was one of my maids of honor and for her high school graduation, she came to stay with me in California for a week. I am blessed and grateful to have such a beautiful and close relationship with my daughter, her parents and for many years, her siblings. All of that love and I still carry wounds from growing and birthing a child to then be separated from her. There are still shards in suspension in my torso that have not welded back together and as a “healed” person, I’m not sure if they ever will, there’s still work to be done, but at least now I can talk about it.

I appreciate having this space to share & a community to receive it.

– xOx

Motherhood Realness with a Touch of Surrender, Acceptance & Poop.

and it all falls down.

photo by Lauren Archer

It’s one of those mornings, it’s x-treme. So much so, there’s not even an “E” on extreme because it’s like the Winter X Games up in here. A battle of wills and brains…my brain losing and exploding because I’m trying to be the best Mom I can be, a conscious, communicating with compassion-type Mom, but I have boundaries. Some of which have been in place awhile like “boobies are sleeping while Mommy’s stretching/meditating”. He knows, he always asks, of course, but he knows. I’ve taken the time to make the world’s best oatmeal, (it’s really good y’all). But THIS morning, my son has a full throttle meltdown and I feel bad, guilty. I feel bad about feeling bad aka weak because where is my conviction for my boundaries?  I start thinking how he had a massive poop in his sleep last night, something he’s never done and he isn’t eating his oatmeal, so maybe he doesn’t feel well. He begins asking me to lay down with him, he’s tired. So on one hand I’m thinking, he may actually not feel well and be tired, on the other hand I feel like I’m being played because he knows he gets boobie when we lay down in bed. Then my early childhood development knowledge kicks in and reminding me that every behavior is him trying to get a need met, that it’s not possible for him to “play” me. I don’t subscribe to the philosophy of kids being methodical monsters, there’s science backed evidence that their little brains aren’t developed enough to create a master manipulation plan like that. So I just sit for a moment, silent and confused wondering wtf is the right thing to do. Am I going to turn into a pushover Mama? Am I an evil Mother for saying no? I don’t like judging my kid, I don’t judging myself and I don’t want to feel bad for wanting to have my morning solo time that I’ve worked on for years to cultivate. I’ve never been a morning person and I’m now waking up between 630-730 “before the kids” to have these precious quiet moments that set my mental & emotional balance for the day. However, what is happening right now is so not good for my mental. So what do I do? I “give in”. I choose what feels best for me, for us in this moment. I lay down with him on the couch, I nurse him, thinking maybe he will go back to sleep and then I can finish my flow! I catch myself wanting to be somewhere else, I’m not present, I’m what many people would define as suffering, wanting the present moment to be different than what it is. I ask myself, can I be here right now?

Can I make THIS my meditation? Refocusing on being here, I feel his hair tickling my nose, I smell his head, I see how his toes barely reach my knee in the position that we’re in. Our arms wrapped around each other completely nullifying the audio assault I just endured 5 minutes before. He was hella disregulated and needed his Mama to lay down with him. Over his unraveling cornrowed head that my chin rests on, I give one last look to my pretty purple mat as I release the desire and expectation of what I envisioned my morning to be because I am right where I’m supposed to be. This is my practice. This is exact moment is why I practice, to remain centered in all types of weather. I inhale knowing that this isn’t a preset for every morning and I’ll get back to my flow eventually, even though it may not be today. One day I’ll wish we had more of these no-agenda-having, time-standing-still snuggle fests. It doesn’t matter how we got here today, here we are. 

45 minutes later, he was finally ok with me getting up to get water and he says “that was a long nap Mommy” (he didn’t sleep), but now we are both more regulated and peaceful. 5 minutes later he poops his pants and this is what parenthood is like on some days, it’s effing hard with moments of sweetness and it literally stinks! 🙂

– xOx