I've been feeling a little raw around the edges this week, and - as is typical for me - having some trouble figuring out why. In usual fall fashion I am overly busy and not getting as much down time and me time as would be healthy. J is teething and somewhat cranky, not to mention clingy. Yesterday I lay down to nap with her and slept right through the evening liturgy I was supposed to be serving for. This compounded my general feelings of sensitivity and gloom, although I didn't regret the nap for a second. I don't know how many of those sweet sleep-with-baby times there are left ahead of me.
Tonight, though, as I headed into class I realized something. J is almost one year old (not what I realized, getting to that)but at this time last year I was not focused on J. I didn't know about her. No, this time last year I was days away from the second biggest roller-coaster of my life, one that ended well but sadly. This Thursday is Choice's first birthday, the little one who for a time we thought would be our J, whose mother made the decision to keep her on the day our J was (unbeknown to us) born.
So, I imagine, while some mothers spend the week before their child's first birthday remembering the last days of their pregnancy or the last days of waiting to meet them specifically, my mind and body are remembering something else entirely. I will always remember Choice this time of year, and wonder how she is growing up, how Y is doing raising her along with her other children. It was Y's choice that led to my motherhood of J, something I will always be grateful for.**
And of course Z is on my mind. There is a stack of photographs on the desk in front of me and a half written letter on the hard drive, waiting for finishing and mailing. She is, I am sure, remembering the last days of her pregnancy, the last days of waiting to meet her daughter and spend the day with J (who was not yet J)that she would have. As usual it is difficult for me to find words that capture my heart. I want to cry for her, for Y, for Choice, for J who lost her first mother the day after we lost our future with Choice, and for me - still overwhelmed at the spiderwebs of chance and tears that wove themselves together to bring me to this motherhood, of this beautiful child.
I don't know how other mothers feel, the week before their baby turns one. Some adoptive moms don't know when their child's birthday is. But this is me. Sensitive, like a bruise, or some skin rubbed raw. The celebrations are coming. But I don't think I can really get there without remembering the road we traveled, and honoring the wounds (all around) that got us here.
**that whole story, in more detail, starts here.