Mother’s Day Story: “Real Mom”
My children didn’t come to me in the usual way. I was there to receive my daughter Tessa when her first mom delivered her many years ago. Two years later I became mom to Reed thanks to his first mom.
Because I missed out on pregnancy, sometimes people wonder when I felt like a “real” mom.
I have loved them both from the the moments I knew of their existence. But the lovin’ wasn’t proven until Tessa was about 3 months old.
My Admittance to the Sisterhood of Mothers
Roger had a conference in Costa Rica one summer, and I didn’t want to miss the chance to travel with him. So we recruited two babysitters — the kind who buy their own airline tickets and hotel room — a/k/a “parents.” My parents.
Listen To Your Mother Show in Denver, 2013
Three-month-old babies have a surprising amount of stuff. Clothing, diapers, wipes, and (in our case) formula, bottles, washing paraphernalia and drool cloths. One of the bulkiest things a baby needs is a bath seat that fits in a bathtub or over a sink. Bulky!
I envisioned getting on the plane with all her stuff and my stuff and a car seat and a stroller, and it was easy to decide we could do without the bath. I’d just bathe her with me.
Our hotel room had a beautiful deck bath. Deep but not long or wide. I filled it up (it took awhile because of the volume) and got in with Tessa. We played and burbled for awhile, happy in our liquid cocoon.
Go ahead. Try to look away.
Somewhere during Rubber Ducky (perhaps the line, you make bath time lots of fun?) Tessa got that look on her face. The one where her mouth turns into a downward arc which is not a frown. The one that shows exertion.
I couldn’t get us out of the bath quickly enough without putting us both at risk. I yelled for Roger, for my mom, for anyone sitting in the next room.
At best, I’m thinking, the product of her efforts will be discrete. Contained. Easily removable. Pleasegod, pleasegod, pleasegod.
Within seconds, I am sitting in a vat of poop soup. Baby Tessa has the squirts.
What could I do?
My mom comes in, and quickly assesses what has happened. She grabs Tessa from me, and I open the drain.
Mom works at the sink to clean up Tessa, who is squealing happily at the crap storm she has unleashed. I wait in the tub as the soup recedes, shivering and wanting desperately to get clean. It takes forever because of the sheer volume of water, and for the, um, is viscosity the right word?
While trying to decide the best way out of this mess, Mom and I start to laugh hysterically. Tessa gets in on our giggles as well. (I just HOPE she was laughing with me and not at me. But I’m not sure.)
Mom and I share a moment of knowing. I feel like I did the day I bridged from Brownies to Girl Scouts. See, I didn’t cross the bridge into Motherhood via the usual route: pregnancy, labor, childbirth. There was never a defining moment where I felt accepted into the sisterhood of mothers.
Until Costa Rica, where I most definitely earned my badge.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.
Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.