Motherhood is nothing more than an endless swirl right now, punctuated by moments of great clarity. There is the spinning, the endless spinning to the next need, the next cry, the next heart needing holding, the next appointment, the next crisis. And there are the moments your heart chooses to freeze in time, when you see how very far each one of them has come, when they succeed: at the monkey bars or at an English phrase, at an AP test or at repairing a friendship. These are the moments that swell my heart big. But then there are the ones where the wounds grow deeper, when I hold their hands through the unspeakable things, when I hold their hearts through the pains they should never experience, when I carry their memories and bear their sorrows.
It’s the mothers who hold their families together, often, by sheer willpower, by the magnitude of love and the perseverance of deep nurture and the tenacity borne of desperation. We are the glue; even though we often wish to fall apart ourselves.
My youngest two, those who came to me from first families unable to care for them, bear the biggest burdens and require the most from my great big heart. And my oldest two, who traveled with us through so much before Asia even walked through our door, they swallow second place in the family now with so much grace. And my heart hurts that they must, but we all triage right now. We all do what we need to get through, to make broken hearts and minds and bodies whole. This is what repairing DNA looks like, for us. And it’s a beautiful broken, like an oil swirl on a rainy day. So much mess but glory too.
The little two, their stories come to me from deep inside a moaning conch shell, blowing like a stiff wind against my raw heart, my aching ears. The broken stories of their past and how those stories shape them now. The way that being five minutes late to pick up causes an hour of sobbing because maybe I’ve left just like the first mama did. The way they need to be rocked baby-style on the playground each day to reassure the parts of them that are still 1 year old. The way they don’t sleep. The ways they may or may not eat. The way the wrong things make them laugh and the right things don’t make them cry.
Words fail me to tell you the shards piercing my heart these days. The obstacles in my children’s paths are mind-boggling, the journey before us intense.
Yet love, love is what we lean into. When we don’t know what else to say we kiss, we hug and we hold. We surrender our bodies to the endless needs to touch and pinch and suck and grab. When we don’t know what else to do we simply get close, smile and use a soft voice and the tenderest of eyes. When we can’t possibly know how to fix the biggest problems we simply reach out with the faith that is built on the love we ourselves have been given and we network and research and find the helpers who dedicate their lives to families like ours. The helpers, professional, paraprofessional and life-taught, who give us clues to the children we have been given. Who help us repair these stories, step by step, wound by wound.
And eventually, because love always win, we will win too.
This is the swirl these days, the moaning conch that fills my dreams as well as my waking thoughts.
This too is adoption.