We celebrate our veterans. We celebrate our founding fathers. We celebrate our workers. But today we celebrate our Mothers. My three sons wanted to celebrate their Mom by serving her breakfast in bed. They cut and arranged fresh flowers in a vase. They made coffee and an egg sandwich. And they gleefully sat with her as she enjoyed their gift as the morning breeze ushered the sounds of spring through the bedroom window.
There was something else in the air. There is shimmer of reflection shining upon the bedroom walls. Something no one is paying attention to besides me, and the cat. The reflection was not from the Sunrays sneaking through the transom and bouncing against Michelle’s iced water. The shine was from the boy’s other mothers, the women who gave birth to them, the women who took care of them while they waited for Michelle and me to come along. They will always be there. An unknown part of all of our lives.
I have read many books and accounts of birthmothers who have made the most difficult choice in their life. One book, “I Wish for you a Beautiful Life” is a collage of letters that Korean women wrote to their unborn child as they made the painful and sometimes numbing decision to give their child a different path in life, a path of adoption. These letters range in themes from the stigma of single motherhood, to the adoption decision, to the Christian faith. Among these many heartfelt letters includes this excerpt:
I hope that you have met good parents and that you will have a good life. I wish for you a beautiful life, with a beautiful face and a beautiful heart. Think of your life as precious, because you are a beautiful flower born out of pain. I cannot give you any help, but I will always pray for you. I chose your name by myself. You will remain in my heart forever with this name. How much you must have grown. I wish you a life with God always. – Your loving mother
I have also read many different accounts of mothers and fathers in China who had to take the risk of getting caught breaking the law in abandoning their son or daughter. As a father of and an advocate for Chinese Special needs children, I have developed my own imagery based on these various accounts. A child is born. An infant who is different. He may have trouble breathing, she may be missing a limb, he may have a cleft pallet, she may have a weak heart. They do not have much money and little access to the health care needed to help this young soul. They try to manage the condition themselves until it becomes unbearable. The couple is pressured by their own parents and siblings that the baby is unlucky. They have to do something. They make one of two choices. The first choice in unmentionable. The second choice is to leave them in a place to be found. They have heard of others leaving their child-in-need in a public space, in-front of a hospital or police station or in a market. They hope the child will be found. As they wait in the shadows they witness their baby being discovered. Open arms of a stranger engulfs their child which is then carried away. This mother sits upon a curb, her shoulders raising and lowering as tears race down her cheek. The father places a caring hand upon her. They wish their son, their daughter to get the care they need. That their child is bonded with a family who can give him a beautiful life.
On this Day for Mothers, I pay homage to all mothers: birth-mothers, foster mothers, adoptive mothers, aunts, sisters, and mother figures for our children. They all have the same hope for our children: to give them a beautiful life. And that is how I choose to recognize this Mother’s Day for it is what my own mother wants for me.