It was your chubby hands that I was running my fingers over. Not the chubby hands that most Mom’s remember of their infant, it was your 3, almost 4-year-old, hands. I was trying to memorize them, the feel, the contour. The right one I held, the left one was clutching a red balloon you got at the restaurant we just left. There are moments that happen in our lives that are the most basic and mundane and for some reason my gut was telling me this was anything but ordinary.
From the outside we may have looked like a normal family, we weren’t. Going down the familiar highway, I sat next to your car seat in the back seat of the truck. My stomach turning, in knots. Fighting back tears and losing the battle as some would fall down my face. Your Dad driving, sunglasses hiding his own eyes, glancing my way in the rearview mirror. We were silent as we drove. I look back at those moments and wonder how we went through all that and yet couldn’t manage to keep our marriage together. The toughest times were yet to come to us and we were only 23 and 24 years old ourselves, thrown on a ride we didn’t ask for with no exit.
We knew our world was going to change that night and it did. What was about to happen, well, if I knew, I would have had him pull over so we could stop it all but unfortunately time stops for no one and the future was coming straight at us. We held you for the first time when you were 6 weeks old and life just happened from there. You gave us sleepless nights, you took your first steps towards us, you gave us your first words and stretched those arms for us when you needed soothing. You were ours and we were yours.
I prayed in the back seat of the truck that night that I would see you again. I prayed to God for strength, for hope, for this to all go away. I prayed that if He just kept you with us, made this okay, that I wouldn’t ask for another child. All I needed was you. I just needed this not to be the last time I held those chubby hands. I had never been so scared but we were going to drop you off with your biological Mother. We had done it before and we knew what would happen but this night was different. We had called upon lawyers and drawn up papers. We had to give you up to get you back and prayed you would be okay.
It went how we thought. There were tears, screaming, arms reaching for us, and legs kicking. You hardly knew her and acted out every time you were with her. My Grandparents stood in the same room and the line was drawn in the sand. They weren’t the Grandparents of my childhood. They were making me and your Dad out to be the enemy. Turning my back and walking out that night was one of the hardest moments of my life. We both lost it in the truck. I have no idea how we safely drove home that night, into the darkness, further away from those chubby hands.
To this day, when your 11-year-old hand reaches for mine, I think of that ride in the backseat of the truck. I don’t take any day or moment with you for granted and send up a prayer, thanking God, for keeping you in my life. When I see you hug your Dad, I thank God for putting that man in both of out lives. Without him, I wouldn’t have made it through those years of court or nights of emptiness. I am grateful that too much time didn’t pass with my Grandparents and we were able to find peace. Through every negative pregnancy test I have taken in the past 19 months, I thank God I still have you and I wonder if the deal I made with Him that night in the truck is payment he took and you are the only baby I’ll have.
There are many definitions of a mother these days but I feel like many are left out and they deserve that recognition. There are many fathers out there who are the mothers for their kids. There are some out there who have outlived their children. There are many that never got to hold their own child but heard their beating heart. Some were able to hold their child but for a very short time. There are some who feel they should be mothers in their hearts but are never able to. There are some that may not be able to be with their child everyday but their thoughts are. These mothers come in different forms and have to bear difference circumstances. For these mothers, this mother’s day, I applaud you. I understand you. My heart goes out to you. May you see the joy of what was, is and can be in your own circumstance.
To my little girl, from chubby hands to a young lady, you taught me how to fight for what was right, no matter the circumstances. You made me a person that can stand up to fear and fight it with faith, hope and passion. You made me what no one else has, you made me a Mom in our own definition. For that, I am eternally grateful.