Listen To Your Mother #LTYM
I am thrilled to share my reading, I’m Ready, in this year’s Providence Listen to Your Mother show. Let me know your thoughts, as always, I would love to hear from you.
It was a privilege to be a part of the LTYM community across the country and across the years of cast members. Thank you to Ann Imig, founder of the live-reading series and video sharing company LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER, and the Providence producers: Chelley, Brianne, Lauren, and Kirsten.
I may soon become the mother to a little boy I’ve never met. I’ve never seen him, not even a picture.
He came crashing into my heart on December 13, just this past December. I was shopping for Christmas gifts for children in need along with my two teenagers and our church’s youth group.
It was a Sunday night and we were back at church wrapping the presents when I read through each of the summarized stories about the kids we had bought for; one heart wrenching tale followed another. I felt a sadness and a deep ache for them all.
One in the pile was short, but it reached out and grabbed hold of me. It’s impossible to say what it was or why it leapt out, because I’ve reread the description and it’s not especially moving or pivotal. What drew me to it the way it did?
It said “8 year old boy” at the top, it was short, with few details, and the final line stated simply: “He wants his forever family.” I was overcome with needing to love this child. Why him out of the group? I can’t explain. It was a feeling more than a thought.
With him on my heart and mind, I returned my attention to gift wrapping. I happened to be working next to a fellow church member, our agency connection to these kiddos, and I blurted out, “I want to adopt that little 8 year old boy.”
What? Where did that come from?
Every moment of this has felt like something beyond me was in control. And those words, spoken aloud, were the first step on a journey we never expected to be on.
My husband, Nick, and I have been married for almost 22 years and we have three awesome kids who are kind and witty, loving and funny. Two are in high school and our youngest is in sixth grade.
We have a blessed life, I have the family I always dreamed of having and we’re savoring the dwindling years with them under our roof. Well, both savoring them and looking ahead to moving to warmer climates once they’re all off and on their own. We certainly weren’t looking to extend the years before we can travel the world and have an orderly house with the scissors always where they’re supposed to be and an entryway free of scattered shoes.
But suddenly, on a regular ol’ Sunday evening, what can only be described as a divine force changed that.
I came home to my ever-supportive husband and said, “You know how I always volunteer us for things?”
He laughingly rolled his eyes and asked, “What now?”
“Well,” I said, “This is different … I want to adopt an eight year old boy.”
Even knowing me as he does, I don’t think he thought I was serious. He started throwing out reasons why this was impulsive, impractical, and frankly, a little bit crazy.
In my head, I heard him, I could understand – and even agree – with his protests and his reasoning, but in every single part of me, I felt full of peace. I felt completely assured and calm. I felt a calling. Not to be just any little boy’s mother, but THIS little boy’s mother. I couldn’t be dissuaded.
Since I tend to be a woman of action, I sat beside my skeptical husband watching football and Googled things like “How to adopt a child from foster care in Rhode Island.” I read and read, I filled out online forms requesting information, printed articles and started a file. I was suddenly on a path of motherhood not everyone takes.
I laid awake that night, and the next, envisioning the emotional aspects of meeting him, building trust, and learning to parent a child I hadn’t known from birth. A child whose young eyes have seen things that I haven’t, a child whose story I haven’t been a part of.
And during all those nighttime thinking sessions, I also thought of every practical angle too, like figuring out where he would sleep, settling him into our schools, paying for another child’s activities and college. I thought of him in all my waking hours.
Nick and I talked more. A lot more. And we talked to the kids – this would have to be a family decision. Making us so proud, each of our children was not just open and welcoming but eager and filled with love at the idea of having a new brother. Incidentally, all three kids individually asked me, “Where would he sleep?” Thanks to my late night thinking, I already had that answer.
Within one week of that ethereal December moment, we were on the way with trainings and forms, background checks and interviews, fingerprints and more forms.
Finally, I got his name. Only his first name, and I hold that name in my prayers, in my smile, in my being. I think of him – all the time. I think about him and yearn to know more.
What is he doing today, right now? Does he like science and math or does he prefer reading? As I’m grocery shopping, I wonder, does he like eggplant, or pineapple, or cucumbers? As I’m driving, I wonder what kind of music he likes.
I am eager to know him: When is his birthday? What makes him laugh? And what makes him cry?
I crave details about this child who may one day be my own. I hungrily absorb and write down the tidbits I glean from his counselor and from the other agencies we’re now involved with. I treasure every nugget of information. We are told he is sweet and appreciative, an old soul.
Since the day this little guy burst into my heart, it has pushed me to ponder, in a whole new way, what it means to be a mother and what it means to be a family.
I impatiently wait for the privilege of meeting him and getting to know him. And while I wait, I wonder what’s ahead.
Will this even happen? Will we have the gift of him being a part of our family? How will I jump into becoming a mother to a kid who doesn’t know me?
In some ways, I think mothering him will be like being a first time mom all over again. I may have over seventeen years of parenting experience but I am inexperienced at being his mom. I won’t have the baby photos or the birth story to retell on his birthday. I won’t have the details of his first steps, his first words or his first day of school. But we’ll have different special dates to celebrate. There will be new traditions we create.
I think about our family videos and the stacks of photo albums without him, and I think about the family movies and photobooks he’ll become a part of as we make new memories together.
We may not have a shared history and I may not know him yet, but I do know that being a good mom isn’t related to how we enter motherhood. I cannot wait to tuck him in and read him bedtime stories, to hold his hand and kiss him goodnight. And good morning, and welcome home from school, and well, I can’t wait to just give him kisses.
As his mom, I want to teach him new things and tell him my stories – all those silly memories and lessons that my other kids have heard over and over. I want to show him where I grew up and the first house we bought.
I want to do the things that he wants to do or try out. Will it be soccer? The saxophone? Karate? Painting?
I may sound idealistic and naive, and you may be thinking, “She has no idea what she’s getting into.” And you may be right. … You may be wrong too.
With any decision in life, we never know how it will turn out. With our own pregnancies, our births, our biological children – our choices for schools, marriage partners, or careers. We do the best with what we know at the time. We have faith. We calculate the risks or we dive in feet first, we wing it or we plan it, but the outcomes are never guaranteed.
Early on, I told Nick, “I hope we get the privilege of loving him.”
He said, “You already do love him.”
And he’s right. I do. I already love him.
I want to smoosh him into a hug – but I know I’ll have to restrain myself and go at his pace. I’ll need to allow him space, and time to lead me … but, oh, how I want to hug him.
As we move along this path, only a few months since I read that tiny snip-it of his story, I feel only total peace, complete calm and utter love.
I feel a rightness – the sense that if this is our road, we are on it and ready to be his family.
We’ve never met him, but I am ready to be his mother.
© Leah DeCesare 2016