So, you're Joanie's "real mother."
I've made a million speeches to you in the bathroom mirror. They were all brilliant.
I thought you'd be taller. You always seemed taller when we talked about you. Don't ask why.
We talked about you a lot. As soon as Joaine -- that's your daughter's name now-- was able to focus; we told her that she was adopted. We told her her real mother loved her so much that she was unselfish enough to give her up to someone who could give her all the tings she couldn't. That's true isn't it? No, nevermind. I don't want to know.
Forgive me for staring. Its just that all my life, I've wanted to see what a real mother really looks like. Joanie always seemed to know you better than we did. You know, "My real mother wouldn't have done that" or "My real mother wouldn't have said that."
I guess first off I should thank you for giving birth to our daughter. I don't know what our life would have be like without Joanie. Children make your life important.
There's probably a lot of things you want to know about Joanie. Is she beautiful? Is she smart? Is she happy? I guess I owe you that.
It's funny. I've always wondered about my debt to you. Things like how much do I owe you? When is the debt paid? And when do I become real?
Its only fair that if you hear all the good stuff, maybe you have to hear the bad stuff. There were bad times you know. Did you know that our daughter almost died from an asthma attack when she was eight? I thought about you that night as both of us gasped for every breath together under that vaporizing tent. I thought to my self 'Where in the hell are you now, real mother?'
Why am I doing this? Why am I so angry at you? I've always known you did what you thought was best. I can tell by the look on your face that you honestly don't know what you did that I think is so terrible.
I'm not sure myself. I only know that when you went away you took a part of our child with you that we can't give her. You took away her history!
Without a past, she's been adrift on a sea of frustration, sometimes afloat and sometimes sinking, and not even knowing what port is home. Is she allergic to penicillin? Is she part Irish? Was she conceived in love? Was she really wanted?
It's been difficult for all of us. How can any of us go forward until we know what is behind us?
Love? People talk about it like it is the universal band-aid for all physical and emotional ailments. Well, there's one thing it can't cure. The rejection by a woman who gave her
We tried. The photo albums, the birthday parties, the instant set of grandparents, but in her heart she stand like a waif on the outside of a family, never feeling like she really belongs
on the inside.
I look at you and I don't know why all these years I've felt threatened by the ghost of a "real mother".
You want to know what "real" is?
Real is what gets a part-time job to pay for a baton that lights up.
Real is what hears, "I hate you" and still says "No".
Real is what sits up untill 3 AM when she has the car out and its raining.
Real is hurting when she's in pain and laughing when she's happy.
Real is emergency rooms, PTA's, music that deafens, lies, defiance, and slammed doors.
Real is what shows up every day!
I'm shouting and I don't know why.
I do know why. All these years, you have been the object of my love and gratitude, frustration and pain, blame and compassion. But mostly you have been the object of my envy. You had the wonderful experience that I would have given anything to have. The movement inside me of a girl child who would one day look at me and see me as real.
No one can give it to me. No one can take it away from you.
It is there.
by Erma Bombeck
(from her book Motherhood the Second Oldest Profession)