Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Real Mother

Another Mother's Day come and nearly gone. Fields of flowers picked, packed, and presented. Servers at every kind of dining establishment run off their feet. Mountains of chocolates hurriedly purchased at drug store and gas station. I like to think there is an incredible amount of love in the actions undertaken today. I fear, though, that there are far too many who found today a chore, a tiresome burden, or an obligation that consumes a perfectly good Sunday. To anyone who was resentful of having to spend time or thought on your mother today, I'd say I envy you.

My mother, Ruth, died about seven-and-a-half years ago and I only wish there were more days, Mother's Days and others, that I could spend with her. Of course I remember arguments and unhappy days, but as an adult I came to realize just how fortunate I was to have her for a mother. I wonder what kind of person I'd be without her. Had things gone differently, I might have found out, for I was adopted by my parents.

I was an unwanted child and my mother took me in and raised me as her own for the rest of her life. I harbour no resentment for the woman who gave birth to me. I think it was an act of great kindness to allow my mother the chance to raise a child with love and care. If ever I were to meet her, I'd thank her for allowing me the life I had by giving me up.

Speaking to my father today, he told me how, when my parents first got me, my mother was afraid to hold me, afraid she'd drop me or hurt me. How incredible to take in a child from a stranger, when you have no idea what you're about to do, and raise it as your own flesh and blood.

She soon learned to hold me and never stopped holding me in her heart. No matter how far I wandered, I knew she was always thinking of me. Sometimes her thoughtfulness would be expressed in the most inexplicable ways: buying me shirts in colours I detested; shipping parcels of canned goods across the country to make sure I was eating (never mind it would have been cheaper to just send a cheque); sending blankets to me in a tropical country. I realize now that it was simply her taking care of me. It makes me smile.

Sometimes, when I discuss my adoption with people, they will ask me if I know who my "real parents" are. My answer is always the same: "My real parents raised me." They changed my diapers, cleaned up vomit, took me to the doctor, taught me how to ride a bike, worked to make a home and a life for me that, while not extravagant, never left me feeling wanting or unwanted.

Certainly there are mothers who qualify for the title merely because they carried a child to term. Mothers who are cold, uncaring, or abusive to their children. Such parents are terrible and their children are under no obligation to feel affection for them. I consider myself very lucky to have had a mother who truly wanted me and always loved me fully. Whatever good there is in the man I've become, it is because of her. Anyone who can say that about his or her mother should spend more than one Sunday a year to let her know how much she means.

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