I was terrified, wishing desperately I had learned more about babies in my first three decades of life, and immediately enamored with the little one who had just entered my home.
Our Jayden made me a mother. Though he now carries my last name, I never needed that to feel as though he was a part of me. That happened the moment I met him.
Our second son walked through the door on a July afternoon with a small bag, Xbox, and megawatt smile. He was supposed to stay a week, but he never left. Seemingly overnight, I became the mother of a teenager who had almost lived two decades without me. There were a lifetime of a memories, history, and family that I had not been a part of nor would ever experience. Being his mom has humbled me in ways I never thought possible and has reminded me over and over and over that motherhood is not about my glory or fame.
Our TD made me a mother of a teenager. My inadequacy and insecurity as a parent became glaringly obvious as we navigated our new roles with each other. Yet, grace has prevailed and we continue to forgive, learn, and move on. He calls me by my first name and when out in public, strangers are always confused by our relationship. But, my commitment to him isn't based on public approval and I have never needed to be called "Mom" in order to love him.
Our third son was supposed to have been my first. At least, according to the timeline we received in December of 2010 when we began our international adoption journey. I never imagined I would gain two sons in the meantime and labored in heartache and fear over the unknowns of our process for two years.
I met my five month-old baby boy in the humid, heavy air of Kinshasa, Congo. He had already been loved by two mothers, including his foster mama who had nurtured and sacrificially loved him from almost birth. The culmination of two years of waiting, coupled with the knowledge that I would be removing him from everything he had ever known, simultaneously sent my heart soaring and broke it.
Our Tyson made me a mother in the wait. Long before I held him, I was his mother. In the wee hours of the night I would lay awake, fervently praying for his health, his paperwork to come through, and for someone to love him until I could get there. I would have moved heaven and earth to get to him faster. When the timelines ever shifted and the days and months dragged on while a child waited across the ocean for their family, I was a mother. Fierce and fighting and faithful.
In five months, I'll be ushered into motherhood through biology. Surreal and terrifying, I have begun to imagine what our strong-willed, hard-headed DNA has created in this little one. For the first time, I'll be a mother to a girl, and that alone is enough to bring me to my knees in prayer.
Our baby girl will make me a first mother, a role I have never experienced. With my boys, I hold dear the fact that they are loved and treasured by other women in their lives, both biological and foster. I alone hold the enormous responsibility for this one growing inside me. What an honor and a gift that carries an immense weight.
My path to motherhood has not been traditional or followed a dictionary definition.
Your path may not either.
That's where I find joy and hope and freedom.
Motherhood isn't meant to fill a cookie-cutter, June Cleaver identity. It's more than diapers, play dates, carpool, and suburbia.
Motherhood comes in the form of . . .
Motherhood is investment, tears, hugs, failure, encouragement, discipline, waiting, hoping, and much, much prayer.
There is no prescription or formula.
It is a calling. And if you're called to role of motherhood, rest in the fact that it will be YOUR calling, no one else's.
Some of the wisest mothers I know have never raised a child in their home. Yet, they have walked countless girls through some of the toughest seasons of their life through mentoring and time and prayer.
Some of the fiercest and bravest mothers I know are still waiting for their children. They have yet to "parent" them in the normal sense of the word, but they are fighting with every ounce of energy and using every legal channel available to bring their children home.
Some of the most involved and loyal mothers I know have never birthed a child, yet they are raising their nieces, nephews, and siblings with a devotion rarely seen.
So, if you've found that your path veers off from the rest, and when you wonder if what you're doing really matters. . .
Know that it does.
Cling to your calling and celebrate your path.
Happy Mother's Day.