I was thoroughly amused last night when I went home to the kids, thereby relieving Grammy. She pulls me aside with a broad grin. “Just so you know, Noah asked me if Grandma Joyce and I were married, and if that’s how you have two moms. I figured I’d leave that to you to answer.”
After sharing a grand chuckle, I reassured her I’d take care of it. My son is just starting to understand my somewhat complicated family structure. If my parents are not gay, how do I have two moms?
The answer: I was adopted. The “mom who birthed me” (from the mouths of babes) was barely 17, in 1973, and the oldest of four. Adoption made the most sense for her and the family, especially at that time. It was the most loving, selfless choice they could have made. Enter, “Grandma Joyce and Dido”, my parents.
My mother told me I was adopted at the age of 6. It was bath time and she was pensive and emotional. It came out, “I have something to tell you. You’re ….a doctor.” Cool! She paused and stuttered the word “adopted” out on her second attempt, and explained. The openness of my parents around adoption continued throughout my upbringing, and for that I am more grateful than I could express. It was just a fact. Because it was so open, I could accept it with its simplicity.
As I look back, I know that it was easier for me to be adopted than for my adoptive parents. There were things they forever wondered about my brother and I. The ongoing nagging question seemed to be whether I felt them to be my “true”, “real” parents. Perhaps decades too late, I’d like to answer that question.
You are the only parents I have. You raised us, struggled with us, endured through our broken limbs, strep throat and acts of defiance.
I may have hurt you with my words. I was able to use being adopted as a weapon in my anger or rebelliousness, just as another child may choose “I hate you mom!” It was never about “her,” but a fantasy like any other child: that sometimes things be different, that I get my way, or that the “grass is greener.”
Sure, I love her, in the vague way we can love another spirit who shares something with us that remains a mystery, and who gave me a selfless gift. The love I feel for her doesn’t compare. I may fantasize if she is wondering about me too, or if I got my green eyes from her. It is as simple as a small place in my heart marked “reserved.” But it takes nothing from you. It is not meant to hurt you, or compete with you. As a mom, you know that the heart’s capacity for love is infinite. What I feel for the mystery doesn’t take a thing from what I feel for you. No one can say it better than this unknown author: “Just two different kinds of love.” While this precious poem may speak to the love both my moms feel, it is also true of what I feel for each and both of you: just two different kinds of love.
I had the gift of meeting “the mom who birthed me” at the age of 25, and was so blessed and fortunate to love her and to get to know her. While she is more than a friend, she isn’t “Mom.” In the humble way life forever gives us gifts, she is undoubtedly “Grammy” and I am honored that is true. Knowing her adds richness to our lives, and only adds to the love I have for Mom. Because my parents could be so open, they helped me accept and be open to the unknown, which only helped me to love them even more.