I am a mother. If you ask me who or what I am, mom will be at the top of the list. It is the descriptor of my life that means the most to me. “Mom” is at the depth of my core.
16 years ago I was a young woman with a new job and a new boyfriend. Mom was a word to describe someone far into my future. I was idling in the McDonald’s drive-thru one afternoon, and I was suddenly hit with the knowledge that I was going to be a mother. I had experienced no symptoms, I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, there were no cravings, etc. It was just suddenly in my whole being that I was pregnant. I knew. I was not filled with the joy and satisfaction that I find today in being a mother. Contrarily, I was immediately filled with fear, sadness and anxiety.
I immediately drove to the 99 Cent Store, which was across the street from my house, and purchased a pregnancy test. It was positive, so I walked back and bought 3 more. They were positive. So I drove to CVS for a more reliable test, which confirmed what the previous 4 had. I was pregnant. I tucked myself into bed and sobbed.
I worried, and felt shame and regret for the next 6 weeks. I told only one person. I had dark thoughts. I doubted myself. But on Thanksgiving I opened up to my sister, and my outlook began to change. The fear and shame began to shift towards acceptance. I wasn’t happy, but I was resolved. I would have this baby, and I would be a good mother, and I would make it work.
That night I lost her. I say her from some place inside of me that always wanted a daughter. The physical pain of that loss was terrible, and the emotional pain lingered. I no longer had the worry of being an unwed and unprepared mother. Instead I had grief. I was not enough. My body had failed. I hadn’t been a loving, welcoming and joyful place for life to grow, and as punishment, the baby was taken from me. In the season that followed I never expected a second chance.
Today I am a mother of 3. I find my biggest emotions wrapped up in these miracles. The chance to mother these 3 has been a surprise, my lift unfolding is a gift.
About 4 years ago I first heard of the Safe Families organization. Safe Families provides temporary placements for children whose mother needs help. She may be facing homelessness. She may need medical treatment. She may have another reason, but in any case, she has no support, and she needs a safe family to care for her child. This cause immediately touched my heart, but it wasn’t until last summer that we were certified to host families in our home. And finally, a few weeks ago, we had our first placement, Michael.
Michael is 2. He loves trucks, cars, planes, helicopters, cranes, and tractors. He is enthusiastic about each sighting, and with construction right across the street from our house, and the airport nearby, he exclaimed frequently about each sighting. On the second day of hosting he began calling Jamail daddy, and on the third day, when spotting an oil rig, he yelled, “Mommy look!” I was instantly hit with emotion, and for some reason, I thought immediately of the baby I lost. My heart broke again for the girl I was, and for Michael’s mother, who had no choice but to trust her baby with a stranger.
Now, having had time to reflect, I see a connection between us all. Fathers are not excluded, but there is just something that is often more tender in a mother’s heart. We seek each other out. We connect with each other. When I found myself pregnant all those years ago, I had fear and I kept it to myself. I know Michael’s mom had many fears as well. Fears for her sons, fears for her new daughter. But she chose to bring forth life. And in this life we need each other.
Saying goodbye to Michael was hard. In the week he spent with our family he completely captured my heart. I worried for him. I worried for his mom. But Safe Families is not about me and my worries or my tears. Safe Families is about offering love.
You may not have a Safe Families in your life. But you might have a neighbor or a friend who could use a phone call or an afternoon off. You might see a mom in Target who is about to lose her mind and offer her a compliment. My friend has offered to babysit my kids so that I can go on a date with my husband. I have offered to pick her son up from church so that he can attend VBS and she can work. I have received meals during times that I needed rest. Life is full of fear, but it is also full of love and hope. We can offer that to each other.
You are doing great ladies.