Ah yes, Mother's Day, the drumbeat continues: On the way back from my morning Starbucks, I am tuned into the local NPR station, Peconic Public Broadcasting, and hear Bonnie Grice on The Eclectic Cafe after she makes some remarks about the upcoming holiday from hell, Mother's Day, say: Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.
But without biology, there is no life. Without mothers, natural mothers who actually nurtured life with their bodies and gave birth, there is no mother at all, no child to mother, nada, zip, zero, and no adoptive mother. The least of what makes a mother? Hardly. The essential nexus of what makes a mother.
I do not meant to disparage here the many women who mother children whose biological mothers are on drugs or otherwise addicted, incarcerated,or who do not care for their children. It's just that, geeze, do we have to have this thrown at us all the time? That we hardly count?
Obviously the quote originated out of Oprah's distance and nearly estranged relationship with her own mother, and it appears it will continue to dog us all our days.
But there's another quote that has made it onto desk calendars, birthday cards and Hallmark bookmarks: Other things may change us, but we start and end with family. The author of this is none other than my esteemed Significant Other, Anthony Brandt. It comes from a piece he wrote decades ago as the ethics columnist for Esquire magazine. He devoted a column to family ties, and wrote about me finding my daughter, his relationship with his brother, and the enduring bonds that exist among families connected by biology. It was called Blood Ties. (No, it's not on the web. Not yet.)
And yes, it was actually a Hallmark bookmark. In 2007.
I just found a cache of Mother's Day cards in my top desk drawer from my daughter, Jane., and I see I did keep the dreaded "Birth Mother" card with its verse ending this way:
"...You wanted the best for me...in other words, thank god I was adopted because otherwise I might be trailer trash!
and made what was probably
the hardest decision of your life.
I understand that now, and
because of that decision,
I had better chances and opportunities
than I might have had otherwise.
Not only did you give me life
but you also gave me...a life,
and for that, I'll be forever grateful."
I was not able to tell my daughter Jane how I felt about the sentiment conveyed, or the "for my Birth Mother" on the front of the card.
But I also found my favorite, the funny card with the picture of the mother and daughter look so much alike. "Happy Mother's Day and thanks....for helping me keep my head on straight." The mother on the card is holding her daughter's head as if to keep it--straight. (The card above is by the same artist, Adrienne Gusoff.)
Jane wrote quite a bit inside that card, but what is most poignant is how she signed it: "Love, your daughter, Jane." She was 33 at the time, but felt compelled to add:
"Don't tell Mom I signed it that way. Don't lie, just don't bring it up, Okay?"And that my friends is as good an example of adoptive guilt as you will find anywhere. --lorraine