Even with adoption no longer feeling imminent, every part of my life I try to translate into a lesson I can learn to either understand my potential future adopted children, or I can use to help them through their own tough times. (and maybe even help me become a good mom!)
Last week was my birthday.
And what would a birthday be without a mom trigger?
Birthday’s have always been bittersweet for me. I love, LOVE, the idea of them, love the idea of celebrating, and presents, and cake (!), but most of the birthdays of my life so far have been disappointing.
There have been a few good ones, made special by a few good friends, and I will cherish those wonderful birthdays for the rest of my days.
But mostly, they are disappointing for me. Perhaps in part because the birthdays I imagine are the birthdays that would be fit for a Disney Princess movie.
This year I did get a surprise early on the morning of my birthday, a phone call from my Auntie in Australia. She was always my favourite Auntie growing up. She was fun, interesting, and younger than my mom and my other Aunties and she didn’t have kids of her own so I always felt a bit special.
And what kid doesn’t like to feel special?
She was also super creative; she told me stories and made up adventures, we were always getting lost and she laughed a lot about it, and to be honest I just plain adored her.
Every child should have a relative that they adore in their lives, even a distant one. 🙂
She called me at 4:44am because she mixed up the time difference. She’d even waited until nearly midnight her time to call because she was trying to ensure it would be the right time in Canada. Bless her cotton socks!
Though I was groggy with sleep, it was still a pleasant surprise and a wonderful gift to talk with her. Thank you 🙂
The first few moments though set my heart beating faster. You see, for the first few seconds the voice on the other end sounded like my mom.
All of the sisters in my mom’s family sound pretty similar and the strong Australian accent to my Canadian accent trained ears makes them sound even more alike.
It was only the time span of several heartbeats where I was confused about who was calling me, but a part of me – that little girl within the heart of a woman leaped for joy that my mom actually remembered me on my birthday.
Except that she didn’t.
You would think after all of these years that little girl would have given up hope…
But the child inside never gives up, never lets go, I suppose.
Even though my mom is not, and will never be, the mom my inner-child needs (or imagines) there is still a fantasy inside me about a mom swooping down like an angel from heaven to take me in her arms and tell me that she loves me, she’s proud of me, and she thinks the woman I have become is the most perfect woman she could ever have imagined.
You know the one?
She lives in movies, and books, and fairy tales – and apparently a whole lot of people actually have that mom!
She is the mom who tells you everything will be alright, who tells you that you can do anything your heart desires and then cheers you on as you do follow your path. The one who loves you so unconditionally as to be your best advocate no matter how many times you screw up, and the person you can always count on no matter what befalls you. She is the person you want to call when you have news, or even when you don’t – and she’s always there to listen with love.
Yeah… the non-existent one.
That fantasy still lives within me, even when I thought I’d grown up enough that I no longer “needed” a mom. Even when I have lived enough life without my mom, and even when I know she could never be that fantasy mom.
Even when I have not heard from her for years.
Most of the time I have this fantasy under control, it surfaces very rarely in an “oh-woe-is-me I have no family to speak of” burst of tears.
But this feeling surprised me again on my birthday with the sound of my mother’s voice channeled through my favourite Auntie.
My Auntie calling is not a regular occurrence either, but it was a welcome one.
This is why I know deeply, that it is vitally important for any children that I adopt to have connections with their birth families if at all possible. And for those connections to be maintained with frequency.
Having those connections will – I hope – not only give them the loving support that they will desire for the rest of their lives from their root-parentage, but may also dispel the fantasies that they could create to compensate for the absence of their roots.
If I had a strong parental figure in my life that was maintained (such as through foster care or adoption), would I feel as strongly or react as strongly as I did hearing the voice last week? Would my fantasy of a mother figure claiming me even at my age, be as strong if I had a present parental figure who cared for me, who called me to check on me, who visited me at the holidays?
Maybe. I will never know.
Though secretly (or not now) I do still hope that one day I’ll meet a wonderful family who will treat me like one of their own, with parental figures that will love and accept me as a family should.
I’ve done well on my own. And I have a lot of wonderful friends who have become my family, who have become my sisters, my brothers, my cousins too. I cherish all of those relationships and I am grateful for them.
And I AM proud of me even if there is no parent, or parental figure, in my life to be so.
My hope is that in the future I can use my own experience around the loss of present family figures and the triggers that send me into a puddle of tears to more easily connect, understand and support my children.
Maybe because of my own self-awareness of the void that sometimes triggers in my heart, I will more openly encourage my children to maintain a bond with their biological family, and I will cherish – every day – the bond that we forge together as a new family unit.
These triggers are real, and my kids will have their own set of them. They too will likely be triggered around the celebrations of their lives, as well as for no obvious reasons. By understanding that triggers happen, and being open about them, perhaps I will be able to help them move through to a place where the pain of loss, or the fantasy shattered, does not haunt them for the rest of their lives.
I am grateful that this week I have been given the opportunity to revisit this feeling – and to see how awareness will enable more self-healing within me. It might even make me a better parent in the future.
Warm smiles and Love,
Ali Jayne 🙂