Close to twenty years ago, when our daughter was barely walking, a friend convinced me to attend a gathering of local adoptive moms. If you read my last post, you know that in many ways, I’m a chicken. People consider me outgoing, but on the inside I’m pretty much a wuss. If my friend hadn’t picked me up in her car that night, I would never have gone. But I did go, and in a strange living room, I met a collection of women who all began, or added to their families through a process that brings indescribable joy, heart shattering love, and a lifetime filled with complexity.
I’d like to tell you that I jumped in, though back then I worked at least forty hours a week, and busy trying to make family time I declined a lot of group invitations. But I showed up enough that it stuck, and together, we raised our kids through grammar school, middle school, high school and beyond. We offered each other suggestions as our children dealt with the complications inherent in their origins…the ever circling, smart-Alek comments from peers, ("How come your birthmother didn’t keep you?”) that triggered painful self-questioning on the part of our kids.
Through the years, we dealt with ordinary parenting issues too, driver’s licenses, first dates, college applications. We’ve supported each other as our children grappled with perceived rejection, as they struggled to form their own relationships, in some cases as they met birth families, or discovered that they never will. As the mothers who love these children with passions that bleed with every beat of our hearts, we’ve cried with each other, we’ve howled with laughter and for the most part, experienced every emotion in between. It seems to me, that while our children have been growing, we have been, too.
Recently, seven members of the group, women who met almost twenty years ago as mothers of infants and toddlers, sat around a restaurant table. The topics ranged, as they always do, but with an openness I’ve come to count on…a trust. I struggle here, to define what I’m trying to say. We are different women. We don’t all see each other between gatherings. But in the same way we never know anyone as well as the people we are raised with, a connectedness exists between us. No one who hasn't clambered our specific road, can climb into our skin the way we do with each other. For three hours we sat at the round restaurant table yacking, advising, supporting, and spilling coffee together (Our poor, patient waiter…we tipped him well.), and when I finally dragged myself away, I understood something.
You never know when you might make a decision that will alter your life for the good.
What if I’d never gone to that first meeting?