My little boy turned five last weekend. Each day leading up to The Big Day we fiercely debated what the words “today”, “tomorrow”, and “not yet” meant. It was agony waiting to turn five! On the morning of his birthday, while it was still completely dark outside, I awoke to five little fingers spread as wide as his palm would allow, inches from my face.
“It’s my birthday, Mommy!!”
“I know, Baby.”
“You can sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ now!”
So I did. It wasn’t long before birthday pancakes were cooking and the family was abuzz with preparations for the day. As I changed a diaper and dressed the youngest, my thoughts drifted to my 5 year old’s birth mom. I wondered if she remembered this day.
Of course she did. A mother does not forget the birth of her child, shrouded though she may be in mental illness or a lifetime of her own neglect and abuse. She remembers. Underneath the layers of numbing sadness and substance abuse, she remembers. Still I wonder what details she may recall about the day her son was born. Does she remember running from hospital staff because she was high and belligerent? Does she remember sleeping in a van in the parking lot, because she knew the time was near? Can she remember the moment they took him from her body, or the feeling of helplessness when she couldn’t feed him or even hold him well? What it must have been like to meet her baby boy properly for the first time in a social services office, delivered there by a kind stranger… I can’t even imagine.
At OMD we hold babies with similar stories every day. We feed, diaper and clothe them with donations from caring communities. It’s important that we, as Office Moms and Office Dads, remember the human aspect of the task of loving children that seem unloved. It’s why we tell these stories over and over. We must nurture soft hearts for the families of our kids in Care, because somewhere under the layers of hurt and anger and bad choices, their parents really do love them.
When five little fingers spread wide across my sleeping face last weekend, it signified something tragically wonderful: that for five years, my boy has been safe. For five years, my boy has been loved. And for five years, his birthday has been remembered by two mommies.