I do enjoy my new church and each week we get a email blast telling us the upcoming events which is very helpful. This week part of the blast had this message:
Honor our mothers by showing them all the gifts they gave the world when they gave birth to their children!
Well I was furious and so incredibly hurt. I know I need to get over it the kids have been adopted for 8 years now and I don’t need to get worked up about the fact I could NEVER have children even if I wanted to. Well I am supposed to be past it but I am not, I call it immaturity I suppose but it felt just like a scab was ripped off and the old wound called “infertility” reared it’s ugly head. Ugg then I hated myself why am I not past this, I have known for over 20 years that this is my reality.
But then I got to thinking…I wonder if the two other adoptive families in the church that I know were offended and would they say something? I felt like I needed to address it and yet I knew it was more about me than what was said. I thought for a while and finally decided I needed to at least voice my concern just in case the other two adoptive families felt the same way. I knew I had to take my emotions a bit out of it because heaven knows screaming at a priest will reflect poorly on my own intolerance more than anything. So I crafted my reply and had my BFF read it just to be sure:
I want to point out something that I am not sure you are aware that could be offensive to some parishioners. There are at least three people in our church who are raising children who are not their biological children via adoption or temporary care. I adopted my two kids so in reading your statement Honor our mothers by showing them all the gifts they gave the world when they gave birth to their children! really hurts me because I did not and could never have given birth to my children yet they still are gifts to me and they of course have gifts for me. I am not in any way mad but I just wanted to point out that sometimes we are Moms but did not give birth.
I waited and wondered what would be said. I mean I know it is not their fault that I am “sterile” as my own mother likes to point out and OK I lied I was a bit mad. I know that sometimes people do feel that unless you gave birth you are “not a real Mom” But I am sorry when I held my sobbing child in my arms because she is heart broken over the loss of her most current boyfriend I am pretty darn sure I am being a mother whether I am real or not. I can assure you it certainly feels real to me but then again….I am oversensitive.
The next morning I am at the pain management center and I get a text. It is entitled “Forgive Me” and it is from my Rector
H forwarded your note to me; thank you for sending it. You are absolutely right, and I (who wrote the eblast) completely failed to recognize the substantial number of parents, mothers and fathers both, for whom you speak. Please forgive my inexcusable oversight. Mothering is a holy vocation not necessarily related to birthing.
All at once I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Why was I reprimanding the one who was in charge of our church, was I trying to be insensitive? I loathed myself and spent the 25 minute car ride back to work admonishing myself for being so rude, I mean it is my freaking issue why did I not keep my mouth shut. I told my co worker about it and she looked at me perplexed. She asked why was I upset that I spoke up for myself and that yes in fact the statement was potentially offensive so SOMEBODY should have said something. Ummm I was raised Catholic and the whole guilt thing never actually left me????
Well then I realized in the email he asked for forgiveness and I needed to give it to him or he might think this was not resolved. I quickly jumped on my email and sent him a note:
Thank you Father S for clarifying I was hoping it was an honest mistake and I do understand people make them. Yes of course I forgive you, you are human like me and we make mistakes.
I saw him today at church and he hugged me as always. I started to feel a bit better about the whole mess. How do I move past this though? I guess I need to stop thinking about it as the continuous failure in my life. I mean my parents didn’t wish the genetics on me it just happened that way. I know lots of other people who cannot have children and I certainly don’t fault them but still…
I guess I need to grieve the loss I never really tried to face which was the loss of my boyfriend at the time when I was given the diagnosis. Yes my boyfriend at the time dumped me because he wanted children and could never adopt because then they would not be “my real kids.” We had been together for three years at the time of the finding and it ended that day. I know intellectually it is about him not me but I guess I feel to blame, if only I had been good enough which of course I would never be. You can’t fix what is wrong with “the plumbing” believe me I asked several specialists and was told the same thing.
So its soon to be Mothers day and in one way I am not a real mother. I did not give birth and will never know that experience. On the other hand I am a “mother figure” as my parents tell me to my two girls. I need to focus on the joy the kids bring me even when I am told they “aren’t really mine” and no it is not the church that says it, it is my parents.