I wrote a blog post over a year ago about trying to come to grips with being a family of three.
It was an emotional post and, as always, the comments from friends were supportive and kind, but one response in particular stuck out. A friend of my parents said that after her first son she still knew she wasn’t done. She said she knew she would get her other baby. She said that if I knew there was another, then there would be one.
Her comment wasn’t just supportive. It lifted me up. It carried me and it dared me to believe.
I tucked her words into my heart and kept them secret. Only pulling them out at night to dream.
I’d said I was done. I said I’d given up, that I was ok, but those feelings don’t just go away. Instead they settle into the cracks, into the already hurt places and wait, at the ready, to spring.
The feelings that come at the mention of a shower. Or after a well-meaning question about “having one” or “another”. At any invitation not to have, but to hold.
Moments of curiosity or joy, that only widen the cracks and make them deeper. The faltering smile you put on for a friend is hardly a bridge, because somehow you are at once so happy and so, so sad.
And finally, the words of a woman who has been where you are. A woman who tells you to be brave, because she knows how much it hurts to hope.
I’ve always thought that you don’t really become a mom when you get pregnant, or when you give birth, or even when the court declares it so.
Motherhood is bigger than that—a cosmic thing. That somewhere there’s this little soul seeking you out. Flitting its way through the darkness. Searching for arms to fit into without any spaces. For the gaps in pictures you only just saw. A little soul looking for its perfect place in the universe. Looking for somewhere to belong. Looking for you.
I believe our babies find their way to us across that great divide. Sometimes we are lucky enough birth them and sometimes someone else does for us. Sometimes we get to hold them in our arms and sometimes they leave us with only pictures in black and white. But they were here just the same. The footprints they left across your heart were real, no matter how small.
My parent’s friend, my friend, waited ten years for her next baby.
Mine sleeps across my lap.
A year and three months after I said I gave up on him. A year and three months since I told my husband we’d be ok just three.
A year and three months…since I lied.
So to all the Mommas that don’t look like Mommas, yet—the ones waiting on babies or not-so-babies to adopt. The ones enduring countless tests and needle sticks. The ones watching their baby grow inside another, and the ones who’ve endured a storm and are praying for a rainbow. It’s ok to know who you are. To know what you are. To believe in what you feel and not just what you can see. To hear something calling out to you from the distance. It’s a divine calling, it is. Don’t doubt what you know to be true.
Mothers aren’t made so much as they are found.
And someone, in the big out there, is looking for you.Liza Dora is an author, illustrator, and Texan living in Tennessee with her husband and two children. Liza graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in chemistry and is the proudest member of the class of 2007.
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