Tomorrow is my first mother’s day as a mama of two. Despite the moments when there doesn’t seem to be enough of me to go around, I remain stunned by the enormous gift Alea has been to our family. I remain bowed low in thankfulness that God cleared the way for her to join our family… that absolutely every door flung open and there were no hindrances in our way as we sought to bring her home. Today we turned the music up loud as Cora danced and spun around the living room – shouting for Alea to watch her. And as I saw Alea’s eyes lock on her sister and untamed joy spread across every inch of her face, I could only think, “How did I ever deserve such a gift?” These two beautiful and perfect girls and their amazing daddy standing right in that room, twirling and singing and shouting of His goodness. It’s more precious and spectacular than any Mother’s Day gift I could dream of receiving, and I want to hit pause on this moment… to pause it so I can marvel just a little bit more at the miracle that happened when God set Alea in our family six short weeks ago.
But while my heart swells with joy at the gift I’ve been given in these children, Mother’s Day might never be the same for me again because I realize that it carries a sort of sorrow with it as well. I am Alea’s mama, but I’m not the only one. I feel her first mama’s gaze when I look into Alea’s eyes in the middle of the night – dark and searching my face. I feel her arms tighten when Alea snuggles deeper into my arms as I’m rocking her to sleep and sometimes even when she’s pushing me away. I feel her breath as Alea’s face inches closer to mine as she sleeps. I hear her voice in Alea’s laughter as we twirl in circles, and I think about the fact that though I’m not her first mama, I’m the first one who got to hear the precious sound of Alea calling for her “mama.” I’ve stood on the ground where she last saw Alea and I’ve clutched the little hat that she last placed on our daughter’s head. This woman is as real to me as anyone could be, and while I don’t know – and may never know – whether it was circumstance, tragedy or simply choice that resulted in Alea leaving her care, I do know that she will forever be a part of our story and will always have a place in my heart.
I know for Alea, Mother’s Day will likely always be bittersweet. I hope I can grow to be the mama she needs and the one she wants and the one she loves. It is one of my heart’s deepest prayers for both of my girls. But I don’t pretend to think that I could ever replace her first mama. I don’t even want to replace her. I’m OK with the fact that I will always share Mother’s Day with another woman in Alea’s heart, and my only prayer is that I can love her well as she grieves and wrestles and wonders and hopes.
I know in the deepest parts of my being that Alea’s first mama will always carry a little part of our daughter with her and I believe she is never far from her thoughts. I don’t think any mother can simply walk away from her child and never, ever, ever look back, and so I imagine she carries the weight and the sorrow and the tragedy of her choice with her wherever she goes. On this Mother’s Day, I carry her in my heart. She’s a sister-of-sorts to me, and though I may never know her name, I feel like we are more intimately tied together than I can find words to describe. My only prayer is that she will find comfort as she grieves and wrestles and wonders and hopes, and that she may be freed from any guilt or condemnation that she may carry and know nothing but the boundless horizons of God’s amazing love and grace and mercy.
Every day I fall more deeply in love with my precious new daughter. She is a gift and a treasure in every sense of the word… I’m so incredibly grateful to be her mama, and while I’ll never be sorry for that, I will always wish her journey to my nest hadn’t started in such brokenness. Jody Landers said it best… “A child born to another woman calls me mama. The depth of that tragedy and the magnitude of that privilege are not lost on me.”