No Grieving This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day didn’t start to feel weird until after I placed Cricket for adoption. I had been pregnant during Mother’s Day the year before, and that could have been weird, but I was too busy being in crisis and having morning sickness to brood about it. The next year—having given birth to a child who was being parented by others—I had time to be weird. That was my only year in such a lonely gray area. By the next year, I was pregnant with Joey, and felt like a no-modifier-needed mother. But that Mother’s Day, in 2009, was strange and sad. Mr. Book gave me a lovely card, but I didn’t feel as though I really belonged to any group on that day.

Now, and for the last few years, Mother’s Day has been, for me, about these youngest two. I focus on my relationships with the kids I am parenting, and I like being able to stand up at Mass when they applaud for the mothers, and I like getting brunch with my mother, or getting pedicures, or whatever we end up doing together. Cricket and his parents don’t have contact with me on Mother’s Day. While my feelings about that have changed over the past several years, I think it is what I would choose at this point—Mother’s Day is a day I don’t want to grieve.

For the first couple of years after the adoption, I sent a Mother’s Day card to Ruth, Cricket’s adoptive mother. She never responded, and so after two or three years, I decided not to spend my emotional energy that way. Ruth is currently choosing not to be in contact with us, so it’s not a decision that I have to make this year—although I am planning to send her a small birthday gift this summer (I have knitted her a shawl). I wonder, now, whether she felt I was intruding on her day by sending those cards. It’s not the sort of conversation that we’ve been able to have.

I know there are adoptive mothers and birth mothers who are able to enjoy each other on Mother’s Day. I don’t know whether that’s more a function of their personality, or of the nature of the adoption, that has brought them together. In my case, since I regret the adoption, I don’t feel peaceful about that loss. My son’s mother is not comfortable thinking of me or my husband as any kind of parent to her son, and would not welcome our including ourselves in her family’s Mother’s Day. Of course, that is her right. I ceded my right to speak with Cricket on Mother’s Day when I signed the paperwork the day after his birth.

For all my talk, the adoption is a silent presence on my Mother’s Day—on every day—but I will take one, or both, of these boys to Mass, celebrate with my mother, and I will try not to spend my day in grief.