The other week, I did a brave thing. I also got my wisdom teeth out on that same week, but that pales in comparison. As I was in prep for surgery, I was asked the typical small talk question, “do you have any kids?” To which I answered, “yes,” and was further asked how many. Now ordinarily, I answer with “one.” It’s easier. It is the truth most people see when they look at my family. It doesn’t raise further questions. Problem is, it feels very inauthentic. When I reply with an answer that only considers Dominic and does not honor my second child, who was really my first, I feel I am being dishonest with myself and unfair to my family. Even though right now we serve these roles only spiritually, I want to do better to honor both my role as mother and his role as son – one who belongs. Even as we wait.
My therapist has given me permission to speak my truth, to be bold and unapologetic as I declare the reality that is both of my sons. In conversation with her, I stated that doing this felt opposite cultural norms. I wondered, is this acceptable? How would people react? Would they judge this thing they didn’t understand? But we decided together that, while it may be taboo right now for a mother to call a child her own when that child is not present in her arms or in her home, it needs to be done. Perhaps the taboo nature of such a claim is exactly why we need to – in an effort to create a sense of normalcy around different types of families that don’t fit within the traditional. Mothers who have miscarried, mothers who are adopting, mothers who gave birth to a stillborn infant. We, as society, need to validate her motherhood regardless of what it looks like. These mothers should be invited to count that child among their family and feel the freedom that comes with such a statement.
So the other day, when I was asked the question “how many kids do you have?” I gulped down my fear and said, “two.” It felt a little funny, to be honest. I definitely have to break in the newness of this response. But man, it did my soul some good to finally answer in an authentic way; giving validation to my motherhood and honoring my prince’s presence as my spiritual, to be adopted, son. Declaring his belonging and sonship was another way we are stepping into the challenge that the next few years will bring as we wait for our boy. And I know some people will find it strange that we are choosing to do this, but such is often the first step of any real change in our world.
So, hi there. My name is Erin, and I am the mother to two beautiful boys. I am the mother to a “typical” child and a child with Down syndrome. I am the mother to a chatty toddler and a non-verbal pre-teen. I am the mother to two beautiful boys.
But even with such truth stated plainly for all to see, it is lonely over here. I don’t fit in. People fail to recognize me in the way that I see myself and my family. When I met my prince 7 years ago, the Lord so connected our hearts that I knew I would be his mother. At the time, I didn’t know my husband. I didn’t have any other kids. Heck, I had just graduated high school. But this connection was divine. This knowing was supernatural. And our relationship, though an ocean apart, grows stronger with each passing year only by God’s great grace. And today, I know the Lord sees my hurting, ever impatient heart; I know he counts me as this boy’s mama; I know He will honor this obedience as we walk forward in his adoption. In the meantime, I long to be accepted, to be asked about both of my boys, to be counted among the mothers who are also parents to a child with a disability and to feel their support. But, so far it seems challenging for people to accept this in-between space where I wait, where I have been waiting, and where I will continue to wait until my 30th birthday.
In my home, I have one child, but in my heart, I have two. And even though there is still a level of fearing the unknown, I am choosing to claim that as truth both now and forevermore.
I saw this little sign at the Hallmark store, and it spoke straight to my soul.