I guess you have to define "Mother" what that means, what it means to you.
I had a biological mother, one who conceived me by accident, who gave birth to me without understanding what that would mean, who took care of me as a baby like a child does with a doll. She adored me, I was hers, something no one could take away, I redefined her as a person, I made her a mother by being her child.
More children came and once we were no longer dolls we became bargaining tools. She had all her children in her twenties and that was when she began to unravel. According to my grandparents she was always the "different" kid, she just needed more. She isn't unlike me or my daughters in many ways; stubborn, we need to feel like we belong but we want to belong as our individual selves, we think outside the box, we challenge mainstream thinking, we are opinionated, we are fragile in ways no one can see. This Mother of mine was all these things but there was always something else, she was manipulative, she always looked at the world in her own way, and could never see it through the eyes of the people around her. It was almost like she believed she was the only one that really existed and the rest of us just an illusion, part of a game she was playing. She continued to unravel until we couldn't see her anymore.
At some point we dollies had to raise ourselves, we had to learn to see the world outside of our rooms and experience with her. We had to become our own mothers and live in a world separate from her to survive. Does this still make her our mother?
I gave birth to my own daughters and I had to learn how to parent by reading books, making mistakes and adopting mothers along the way so I could learn by watching them. I parented most days by promising myself I would not make the same mistakes my parents did. I always felt like I was wearing a skin coat made out of my biology and I had to find a way to shed it by doing things the right way. It was difficult and I was young but I managed it wasn't always pretty. I have had to invent my own style of parenting, it took me years to become a Mother, to me it was a title to be earned.
Later Noah would come, after years of waiting I got the green light from Steve, things were falling into place for him and I managed to squeeze in a little and said, "what about me, my dreams?" He never thought kids were something you waited for and dreamed about, built your future around. They were an experience you got through if you had to, in some ways they were inevitable but you had to keep it simple, one or two, move through it, move on. He loves his children but they are part of his life, not all of it.
After Noah was born Stevie would get cancer, everything would change. Steve and I fell apart. I became a different kind of mother, I had learned how to pull children from the mouths of alligators, lift cars off trapped babies, but here we were and I could not cure cancer, a brain tumor was bigger than me and I couldn't save her, I failed, did that still make me her mother?
My entire being fractured the moment I kissed her lips for the last time. I broke into so many pieces, I unraveled. I didn't come apart like my mother, I came apart so that I could come back together stronger. I had to learn to take that pain and loss and turn it into something else. I had no idea it was happening, I didn't know what to do or where I would end up.
I tore out our kitchen, I wrote a book, I threw away the art that I thought represented me, and I created a business. I could only get through the day if I felt productive. No matter how busy I stayed I still woke up with a big hole in my life, I had to open my eyes every day and remember Stevie was gone, it hurt to breath.
One morning I woke up and I knew that I needed to be a mother again. I didn't need to have a baby to distract myself, I had enough distractions. I didn't need to have a baby to forget or replace Stevie, that would never happen. I needed to do this because I am a mother. I am a lot of things but that is what I am most, what I love and value most, it is what completes me.
Even though I was sure this is what I needed to do I battled with it. My rational brain made a long list of why this was not the most rational thing to do; my marriage was hanging by thread, I was 43 years old, my husband had a vasectomy and did not want any more children, he was even older than me. We did not have the resources for a traditional adoption, or IVF, we lived in a small house, there was recession happening and we didn't know if Steve would have a job in a week or a month. I had a business and a little boy who needed more of me, and I was still grieving but...
There are things in my life I am sure of, it does not happen often but when it does, it does. This was one of those times. I knew I would not give up, I knew this would happen, I knew it would be process and I knew my heart would surely be broken in that process.
When I am sure, there is nothing I can do or anyone can say to stop this thing from happening. It is a force bigger than me. I was tired and I didn't know where I would get the strength in me to move through another journey this big, but I woke up every morning knowing I was on that path anyway. There is a metephorical light that shines in me, ahead of me, and all around me. This light helps me move through my doubts, it helps me find a way over hurdles and sometimes mountains. I can never see it until much later, when I am looking back.
It would take four years and the loss of a baby to bring Elliott home. It would have to be a super hero, I would endure pain, I would fight for this with all I had, risk my marriage, my home, my health for this. Here I am where I knew I would be, feeling what I knew I would feel, looking back I can not believe I got from there to here, I knew I would but I just can't believe I didn't give up. I feel like someone else now.
I still wake up and say good morning to Stevie, the depth of that loss has not changed, I have.
I am an older mom, it isn't the best thing but it's something I can do, will do, and will do well.
Elliott is not a genetic child, meaning the cells that I needed to have a baby were donated to me. I had to be gifted a blue print but I provided the building materials and the site. He and I did all the hard work together. He is a child of mine, there is no doubt about that.
I am not his mother because I gave birth to him, because he belongs to me, I am his mother because I belong to him, I have made a promise. All my children have been a gift to me, they belong to themselves but I get to travel with them, I get the honor of welcoming them and guiding them. I am the kind of person who thinks this is the hardest job, but the best job a person could have. I don't need much else to make my life seem important.
We will teach each other, it won't always be easy, there will be so many mistakes but hopefully no regrets. We are a family.
I still want a big family, if I were a little younger I would do this again. My dream as a child was to have six children, it seemed like a good number when I was seven and writing the story of my life. In this story I was a Pediatrician, astronaught, and a mom to six kids. I had a husband named Jack who had a job in a big office. We lived in a house the same color as my grandmothers, pink, mission stucco, red tulips planted by the windows.
My house had a big back yard with a tire swing and apple trees. I imagined the inside of my house would always smell like Thanksgiving. It would be bright, big rooms, lots of toys, and fluffy beds that everyone could jump on. My kitchen table would mostly be a fort for tea parties, and I would always have a jar full of homemade cookies. I would never spank my kids and they would all know how to sing like in the sound of music.
I pictured myself as pretty, blonde, long hair, pink painted fingernails and frosty lipstick. I would drive a baby blue car with white leather seats, I would smell like peppermint and flowers I would have soft nightgowns and a big soft bed that all my kids would cuddle with me in, we would read stories, eat cookies and wouldn't care if there were crumbs in the sheets.
I am 47. I have lost a daughter, a baby, and today I have three beautiful children who share my days with me. I became an artist, I live in a green house, I bake cookies, we have grieved and celebrated inside these walls. Some days I am not sure how long I will remain married. My bed always had a baby in it, big or small, we jump on furniture, tell stories and I have never spanked my kids.
I have a couple apple tree's, my wild auburn hair is turning grey, never found much use for lipstick and I drive a red car. I never got to ride in a rocket ship but I get to watch the stars from our hot tub on summer nights. There are many things I am, many I am not but always I am a mom.