It’s a tradition. During this season of contemplating peace and good will towards men (and everyone else) I offer you this short musical vlog.
To: You From: My sisters and me (we of the very expressive eyebrows) RE: Latin lesson: Dona Nobis Pacem.
Tami, Lori, Sheri
May you be granted peace and may you, in turn, grant it to others.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs 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. Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.
Not everyone gets warm Hallmarky feelings about Mother’s Day. While the maternally privileged (like me, currently both having a mom and being a mom) buy cards and flowers and/or receive cards and flowers, others dread this time of year.
Many of these Mother’s Day dreaders are connected through the experience of adoption, some also through infertility. Who are some of these outliers?
Women experiencing infertility
Women who are waiting to adopt or who have adopted
Women who placed a baby for adoption
People who were placed for adoption
Though the situations are different, healthy strategies for getting through mid-May with one’s sanity intact are similar (as excerpted from the book I wrote with my daughter’s birth mom, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption).
3 Tips to Surviving Mother’s Day
1. Find balance. You don’t want to dwell on your pain or discomfort with the holiday, but neither do you want to deny it’s there, because denial gives it power. When emotions arise, acknowledge them — maybe even aloud (“OK. I’m feeling really angry that other people are celebrating what I lack”) — and release. You may have to do this more than once (ha, once would be too easy!). Maybe a dozen or a hundred or a thousand times between now and Monday, May 14.
2.Stay present and in your physical body. When we grieve our wounds, we are in the past in our emotional body. When we worry or are fearful, we are in the future in our mental body. So find something to do that keeps you in your body and present, like physical or creative activities or just plain stillness.
Move. In the remaining days leading up to Mother’s Day, plan to walk, run, hike, dance, mountain bike, swim, rock climb, do martial arts or yoga or another activity. Physical movement prevents emotional stagnation.
Create. Supplement all that movement with creativity. Write, compose, paint, draw, choreograph, mix a song, rap, blow glass, make pottery, or plant and tend a garden. Creating allows your energy and emotions to flow and not get stuck.
Find stillness. Meditate, do tai chi, or simply find focus in whatever you are doing — walking, cycling, washing dishes. Practice finding this place of presence, of uni-tasking and being where you are, of calming the chatter of your mind.
3. Connect with others. Find a tribe of people who have walked or are walking a similar path.
Infertility and Adopting: Melissa at Stirrup Queens tends a ginormous blogroll sorted by neighborhood (such as assisted reproductive technology, third-party reproduction, adoption, living child-free). Creating A Family is also a rich resource, both its site and its Facebook community. And Keiko Zoll from The Infertility Voice has compiled a helpful list of infertility support organizations.
Birth/First parents: Birth Mom Buds and Concerned United Birthparents are two of many online support group options. For in-person gatherings near you, do an Internet search of “birth parent support” plus your zip code.
Brandy, a Colorado adoptive mom, says, “Don’t let anyone steal your hope, joy or excitement. If it would make you feel good to receive a Mother’s Day card, drop a not-so-subtle hint to someone who would arrange for that.” Sarah, another mom via adoption, offers, “Avoid people who don’t understand or who make you uncomfortable. On holidays, be selfish and indulge in what you need, and not what others expect of you.”
If Mother’s Day is difficult because you feel guilty or sad about your child’s first mom (or even if you don’t), says Rebecca Gruenspan, “reach out to her and thank her. Let her know her child is doing well. Give her some peace of mind.” Being kind and respectful makes you feel good, too.
Michelle, adoptive mom of teens,advises that you expand your view from the short-term BECOMING a mom to the long-haul BEing a mom. Read a book about adoptive parenting. Ahem.
Tips for Birth/First Moms
Chanel Young, birth mom in Texas, says, “Be honest with yourself about how you are really feeling and dealing and if the situation permits be honest with the other mother. I am very lucky to have such an open and understanding couple, I don’t really know how I would deal with this if they weren’t as inclusive of me or if it had been closed rather than open.”
Ames Markel, who is an adoptee as well as first mom to a 13 year-old son, says, “It’s OK to cry! Mother’s Day is hard. Let yourself grieve, but always remember that your decisions were made from pure love. And love is a wonderful gift any mother can give her child.”
Tips from the Trenches for Adopted People
Last but perhaps most, for the children-who-become-adults at the center of adoptions…
AuthorLaura Dennis counsels adoptees (and first parents) to allow themselves to heal, especially if they are in limbo about reunion. “For anyone who may have emotional triggers about Mother’s Day, my advice is super simple, but not at ALL easy: Even if you are hurting, you can HEAL. You are not powerless. You can work on your own pain, your own hurt, to make yourself the most whole, ready, emotionally open, and secret-free person you can be, no matter what comes.”
Deanna Doss Shrodes, pastor and writer at Adoptee Restoration, says, “For adoptees who do have children and find this holiday hard to navigate with first mother or adoptive mother issues, I recommend shifting the focus to celebrating your own life as a mom.”
Cultivate kindness from within, says writer and adoptee JoAnne Bennett. “Feeling bitterness from the losses [of my birth mother and adoptive mother] has not been an option for me, but rather the ‘hard parts’ have strengthened my belief that being a caring and sensitive human being with a genuine love for one another is what is most important.”
If you’ve endured infertility or adoption, what coping strategies have worked for you around Mother’s Day?
I first ran this post back in my early days of blogging when my mom was practically the only one who read my posts. I’m re-running it now because the recipe came from my mom, so its first iteration was kind of pointless. Now maybe one or two other readers will be able to enjoy Bourbon Balls and Rum Balls this holiday season.
Yes, I understand this is early for December holiday prep (or super late, if you are a retailer) but when you see how yummy these are, you’re going to want to have a batch on hand for each party to go to or host.
Though my mom was the maker of this confection, I associate the recipe with my dad. In a 3-ring kitchen binder in my kitchen cabinet is a tattered photocopy of my dad’s handwriting, dated 1967 (? never could read his writing). Now, my dad knows his way around a grill but he most definitely does NOT make cookies. So the fact that he wrote down a recipe and hung on to it means that it made him a hit at work. He and my mom made batches of Bourbon Balls every December for him to bring to his aerospace facility (think Mad Men with pocket protectors). The treats held a fascination for me because the whole time I was growing up, I was unable to partake.
Now I can. And I do.
Bourbon Balls (or, as I prefer, Rum Balls)
2 1/2 C crushed vanilla wafers 1 C confectioners sugar 1 C chopped pecans (optional) 2 T powdered cocoa 3 T white corn syrup 1/2 – 3/4 C bourbon or rum or scotch. Pick your poison.
Mix ingredients in order given. Form balls, roll in confectioners sugar. Store in covered container.