|My tabletop tree|
GIVE YOURSELF THE GIFT OF GIVING UP THE SECRET
Christmas music seems designed to pierce through whatever shell we first mothers have surrounded ourselves with and reach down to our core to remind us: She is gone, she is six or sixteen or thirty-six, who is she today?--oh my god, that girl/teenager/young mother looks like me, could she be her? So many reminders accost us daily: shopping at the mall and seeing people who are the age of your child, or catching a glimpse of a mother and daughter--you note how much they look and act alike, you can not help it--out together for the day, seeing something you wish you could give your daughter, if only you knew where she was. I used to barely be able to get through Christmas Mass without weeping, even when I had that huge lump in my throat. The high notes of The First Noel and Silent Night cut right to the heart of my heart.
Until I told my family about my daughter I know my mother always wondered what was up. Life was so much easier when I didn't have this awful secret to hide. I hope some of you who have kept this secret will unburden yourself in the coming year, and find a way to greater acceptance of yourself. Shame breeds this secret. It is long past the time to let this shame rule our lives.
"The quality of mercy is not strained.Our path--whether first mother or adoptee--is not easy. Adoption is not a one-time act, but a lifetime reality. For all of us, it is a much more harmful deed that we could ever imagine, both in what it does to us birth mothers, and what it does the children we had hoped we were doing "the right thing" for.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
ASK NOT WHY, BUT WHY NOT?
I am not a religious person, but it is so easy to ask, Why Me? Or Why Me, Lord? Why not you? is fate's chortling reply. But I do know we were not meant to have our hell on earth to provide someone else's joy, to complete someone else's family, yet it does seem that that is the good--someone else's gain--that often springs from the sorrow and grief of losing our children. Instead of simply feeling resentful, I now try to accept this. But I still will try to point out my feelings about this whenever possible. Not speaking up when we can keeps records sealed, makes other see adoption only as a feel-good solution for others, and keeps more of us first mothers deep in the closet.
|My daughter and me, 1983|
I will go to Mass on Christmas morning and ruminate about my daughter, who died four years ago. In my own way, I pray simply by thinking about her and focusing on the good things about her, the joys we were able to share, the good times we had. I loved shopping with her and buying her clothes; we laughed at the same jokes; we both loved the sea. I am proud of the work she did for the epilepsy foundation, and how she was beginning to find her voice as a writer herself, after overcoming tremendous odds.
I will be glad for my husband, my friends both far and near, my dear and serendipitous relationship with the daughter of my first love. I will, I am sure, be once again overcome with emotion when the chorus sings Silent Night. And then, I will share Christmas with family and friends and good food and fellowship. And I will know that no matter how much I miss her at this time of year, Christmas is only a season, Christmas is only a day.
In a few days Christmas will be over, and life will go on. It can't help itself.--lorraine
An earlier version of this was published in 2009
Calling loved ones (and those you are not so sure of) for the holidays
A First Mother remembers: My Adopted Daughter's first Christmas gifts
Letters Lead to an Alternative Universe Daughter