"Before I had my child, I thought I knew all the boundaries of myself, that I understood the limits of my heart. It’s extraordinary to have all those limits thrown out, to realize your love is inexhaustible.” – Uma Thurman
Whenever I travel to meet adoption related friends, I often bring pictures of my daughter. My sons are often with me and if they are not, I have pictures of them too. It seems like a typical mother thing to do, no?
People comment about how much my daughter looks like me, her style, her eyes. Others will remark on my youngest sons deep dimples and still more will comment on the wonderful array of freckles that dot my oldest sons nose and cheeks. I am proud of my children. I am blessed by their existence and a better person because of them. One of my favorite past times is to catch them doing something, anything, when they don’t know I am watching. I love to just admire them from afar.
With my mom friends who are in reunion, it’s a common practice for us to all share our kid’s pictures, to ooh and ahh, over our kids. We would have done it naturally if we had been permitted to raise them. It doesn’t seem at all strange to me that we do this now that we are in reunion. A friend of mine, not yet in reunion, has only one picture of her child – her ultrasound picture. She recently shared that and we were all equally thrilled to see it. It means that much to her and to us. We know how she cherishes the only visual she has of her child.
My friend Gina has an amazingly handsome and caring son. My friend Mary has a beautiful and sensitive and intelligent daughter. I love basking in their motherly glow of pride and love. They waited a long time to coo over their children. I am honored to share with them. We deserve it. We always did.
Yet, oddly, (or not), some find this practice of ours disconcerting. They feel we don’t have a “right” to adore them or love them. We threw them away, remember?
When I met a fellow blogger in Chicago, I was excited to share pictures of my daughter with her. I showed her the album I had brought with me. She commented here or there about the usual things. Daughters’ hair, her style, her facial expressions. The farther she got into the album the more uncomfortable she seemed to become.
“If my natural mother had an album like this of me, it would really bother me. I wouldn’t like that.”
I was a bit taken back. I don’t remember if I said something to her. Maybe I did. Actually, I think I did. I think I asked her why that would bother her. Maybe I didn’t.
I do know I was startled. I felt like she was saying I was doing something wrong, or bad. I had to take a few moments to separate her feelings from my own and also to realize that while she may feel that way, I cannot assume my daughter does.
Her reaction coupled with the words of others made me realize how mothers like me are so often damned if we do. Damned if we don’t. We were told we were damned if we considered keeping our children. We were certainly damned when we surrendered them.
If I were to ignore my daughters pictures, never share them, never print them, I might be accused of denying her, avoiding her, not loving her. If I share them, I may be accused of being obsessive, violating boundaries, and well, yeah, loving my daughter. Mothers are damned if we don’t include our children and often damned when we do. How the hell does one navigate such a construct?