On Motherhood and Mother’s Day

Sitting here in the hospital room, as my newly adopted daughter recovers from her first of what will be several open heart surgeries, I have almost forgotten that this Sunday is Mother’s Day. In the past, Mother’s Day had always been a painful reminder of what I wasn’t yet — a mom. On Facebook, friends would post about spending Mother’s Day with their kids and I tried to focus on the fact that I was lucky I still have a mom at my age, when so many of my friends have already lost theirs. But it was hard.

So you’d think that this Mother’s Day would be foremost in my mind—my first Mother’s Day!!! But it honestly hasn’t been—I’m too busy being a mom and trying to comprehend and digest what I’ve gotten myself into. And I’m tired. So damn tired. I didn’t know a person could be this tired and still exist.

But I’ve had, in a big way, a unique first five months of motherhood, because my daughter has a serious complex congenital heart defect. We spent the first five weeks together at the hospital and we came back to the hospital last week for her first open heart surgery. When I dreamed of motherhood, I certainly didn’t dream of a baby with a heart defect; all this time in the hospital; all the fear and worry over her health and whether she’ll survive; watching other babies with heart issues not make it; praying that I never have to experience that. I figured I’d adopt a healthy baby and be like most other moms. But after waiting and waiting and not being matched with a birth family, when I found out about her, it just felt right — like this was the baby for me. She needed me and I needed her.

And even with her heart defect and my being so tired, it has been wonderful and fulfilling. Something in me gave an “ahhhhhhh” of satisfaction and relief once she was mine. It’s like a piece of my life pie is finally in place. I don’t have the gnawing restlessness and dissatisfaction that has ruled my life for the last 10 years. I can stare at my little miracle and know that no one gets her like I do; no one understands our secret language; no one can comfort her like I do; no one knows what makes her laugh. We are bonded through and through.

I don’t sit and think about being a mother — I am a mother and I’m doing all of the things I dreamed about (and some I didn’t). I am fully ensconced in this role. So rather than think about Mother’s Day, I am thinking about my daughter (yes, it still feels amazing when I say that word) and her health, what she needs to be healthy, what I can do for her, what are the next steps to getting home, how I can help her survive and thrive so we have many more years together. The feeling of needing to nurture a child—bottled up all of these years—is now pouring out of me. Motherhood itself—so much more meaningful than Mother’s Day.


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– Rada Lankina