Monday, March 17, 2008

Defining “Mother”

I never thought I would become a “mother”, and I am still trying to figure out what that label means to me. In its most basic understanding, a mother is a woman’s relationship to the child she has given birth to. But “mother” is so much more than that. My biological mother carried me inside of her for nine months and then went through the ordeal of labour, but once severed from her body, she was gone from my life. She never nurtured my growing body or mind, never answered my questions concerning life or the mystery of it, she never tucked me under the covers at night or brought me a glass a milk. The woman who did all these things, and so much more, was my adoptive mother. The woman that, through the years, has been called everything from mama, mommy, mom, and sometimes mother when I get upset with her. Although no biological relation, she is the one I have always turned to.

And now I am both of these women, a combination of “mother” that I have no experience with. My husband thought it odd how I kept remarking how pleasantly surprised I was that my daughter looked like me. And still to this day, when people comment on our very obvious familiar appearance, I am warmed inside. I think it more than common pride. It springs from somewhere unknowable, a sense of loss, a history or foundation that was never there. I look nothing like anyone is my family. I grew up in a family of tanned, dark haired brunettes, and here I was, a pale freckled red head. When I look at my daughter, a connection has been made, a lost link finally reestablished. What was severed, having no choice on the matter, has been regained through choice. The choice to become a mother to my daughter.