Monday, May 12, 2008

Reflections on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is always a bit sad for me, though there is a great sense of gratefulness in it all.

On September 16, 1969, 2:00pm pst, I gave birth (at just barely 16) to a baby girl. I am told she had all her fingers and toes and was quite lovely. I never saw her. She was whisked away from me, at birth, then left the hospital before I did... but not before I was able to give her a birth name: Amber Leora (and my last name).

Finding oneself pregnant at 15 is never good, at least not in this culture. It wasn't initially so great either for Mary, the Mother of Jesus whose yet-to-be husband, Joseph, had some pretty dreadful decisions to make.

Mary and Joseph prayed for resolution. I was just trying to figure out what in the world to "do". I was not accustomed to prayer, then, though I know God helped me.

The 60's were a crazy time in just about all ways. In terms of my pregnancy dilemma, I was not the only one. Two others had had children prior to my becoming pregnant. Perhaps their actions instilled some urgency in good decision making for me. I wasn't taking my newborn on the back of a Harley. And I wasn't going to take a baby to a party and lock the poor child in the car for hours. Good God!

Bless my mother for allowing me to go to therapy, which she paid for, to allow me to figure out what I needed to do. Pulled by the times and by my all-woman, three-generation family, I needed to think outside of these parameters.

Eventually, I concluded that the proper thing to do was to put my baby up for adoption. I wanted my child to have a family... as in more than one parent... and brothers and sisters, as well. I wanted her to have support in the face of potential tragedy. Not only could my family not offer this, I was 16. I knew absolutely nothing about children, babies or raising a child properly.

My mother, then about 56, could barely deal with my generation and I could not burden her with the upbringing of a child, either. I really didn't want my family raising much of anything. They were basically (by now) more decent people, but my family (small as it was) was unrelenting chaos and my elders lived quite in another generation. My mother was 40 when I was born, a child of her fourth marriage, my half brother from the first marraige.

Least you believe I do not love my mom, I do. I love her very much. I don't respect her beliefs at all, but she has always been supportive of her black sheep... me. Off to the adoption attorney we went. A family was found for my daughter months before she was born, matched to the best information we could provide about our families, and, apparently, theirs.

I remember receiving a bouquet of yellow roses from my Godmother, now long buried. That meant a lot to me for reasons I don't understand. Yellow roses were, though, my favorites.

Friends were not allowed to see me, but they did find my room from the outside of the hospital, and knocked on the window, the rascals. They had thought of me and had come to say hello and cheer me up. This also meant a lot. In fact more than a lot. I only wish they were as activist in their adult lives.

Perhaps the most difficult day came when I had to sign the final adoption papers. Knowing what I know now, this must have been a time of needles and pins for the adoptive family because many refuse to sign and a child that the adoptive family has come to cherish can be swept away for failure of that signature. I signed. I cried.

It was the most difficult decision I have had to make to this day. But it was also the best decision I have made to this day.

Looking back, I cannot imagine, really, the incredible sense of responsibility I owned and was so thoughtful of. While I do not tend to make decisions quickly, or without thought, as an adult I am surprised I had this much thoughtfulness for this decision. I had to make a decision without including my own feelings. And I did.

My mother always sends me a Mother's Day card. I don't know what she sees in doing that, but it is incredibly thoughtful.

This Mother's Day, my mother handed me her ring... the diamonds from her engagement and wedding ring set in a setting she designed many years ago. She told me that despite the fact my father was a terrible father, it is important that I have this and recognize this and not hate him. I have never hated my father, but I also have never loved that perfect stranger.

I didn't attend church on Mother's Day, but if our wonderful Priest had said anything that day, she could have shortened it to these words from my mom put into perspective: Love others as Christ loves you.

I remember, at the time, my Grandmother, who I simply adored, sitting and listening with me on the end of my bed, this song from Joni Mitchell. I cried. She cried. Only later did I read this song was written about Joni's adopted-out child, as well, but the lyrics certainly seemed that way to me at the time. The title, Little Green, surely rejoices the springing of new life into this world.

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Blue

Born with the moon in Cancer
Choose her a name she will answer to
Call her green and the winters cannot fade her
Call her green for the children who've made her
Little green, be a gypsy dancer

He went to California
Hearing that everything's warmer there
So you write him a letter and say, "Her eyes are blue."
He sends you a poem and she's lost to you
Little green, he's a non-conformer

Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
There'll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green
Like the nights when the Northern lights perform
There'll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there'll be sorrow

Child with a child pretending
Weary of lies you are sending home
So you sign all the papers in the family name
You're sad and you're sorry, but you're not ashamed
Little green, have a happy ending

Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
There'll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green
Like the nights when the Northern lights perform
There'll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there'll be sorrow

When I look at the ring, I think of my mother, my father... and Amber. I am thankful that God was with me at that time.