Motherhood: Permission to have 2 plan A’s

Motherhood – such a loaded term for some people. Can we do this, do we want to do this, how should we do this?

My first experience of motherhood was the privilege of being a ‘weekend’ mom/ big sister to a little guy who was my angel. He taught me that it was possible to love someone who I hadn’t carried from his beginning with a love that is still there and that I did indeed have the capacity to make decisions that were good for him; that I had the ability to nurture and want the best for a little person that for all intents and purposes couldn’t give anything back to me really. Yet gave me something that sometimes I can’t find words for – it just was this beautiful relationship which I had as a gift (with all its ups and downs) until he got his forever family. Honestly, I struggled to understand why when we have 4 million orphans in this country why anyone would choose to have a birth baby rather than adopt one because there are babies & children waiting to be loved?

My plan A was always to create a family, Lord willing (note the ‘my plan’ in this) via adoption. It wasn’t something that I had to wrestle with, or figure out. It just made sense. I was jealous of friends who were in a place to initiate their adoption process when I knew that from a screening point of view I wasn’t in a position to offer a small person what they needed. I was jealous of friends who announced their adoptions on facebook, in community groups. I missed having my little person with me who I celebrated having a forever family (for him) and yet had to grieve that it wasn’t me.

Then I got married to a wonderful man, to a man who believes in adoption & who is wanting to adopt, but is also wanting us to birth babies, Lord willing. This is his dream. This is something that matters to him. His ‘Plan A’ for family has always included both: birth children and adopted children. What a gift of a husband I have. What a challenge to me though to consider the possibilities of birth babies as well as adopted ones? In my head adoption was the plan A. It was hard to consider anything else.

Until I had this conversation with a friend whose plan A was always to have a birth baby until she was told for physiological reasons that this wasn’t an option. I thought that she would totally endorse my position. Except she didn’t. She listened to me. She let me weep. She let me express the depth of my thoughts, and a position which I didn’t know until then that I felt so strongly about; and then she challenged me. She challenged me on the fact that God gives children as blessings. She challenged me to rethink what my wonderful man was asking; she asked me to think about whether I was in a position to honour my husband and the potential gift of a birth baby and the experiences that come with that in terms of opening up aspects of my husband that only I potentially could. She affirmed the fact that adoption was still a part of the plan.

This opened up a 6 month process of me sitting with these questions. Praying with my husband, praying alone, praying with friends. And then we fell pregnant sooner than anticipated & despite not meeting this baby on this side of heaven, discovered that actually we are “fertile” and fortunate compared to so many we know. I also discovered that actually I do want to embrace the experience of growing a small person. I do want to share this with husband.

As I write this I have the honour of being a facilitator on a weekend of equipping parents who are adopting, have adopted and considering adoption. I spent time yesterday afternoon with a little boy who has been declared eligible for adoption and who in my heart I wish we could adopt. His eligibility for adoption came through 3 months after we were married. Seeing him yesterday, in a family style home, 2 years since I last saw him, reminded me again that he is so ready for a family. And my heart is still to have a child like him be a part of ours.

I am grateful to my friend for challenging, listening, holding and responding to a space which isn’t neutral for her. It’s a space which held pain. It’s a space which provoked her needing to look at what was previously her plan A and still being able to look at me with compassion.

Today I sit knowing that motherhood is allowed to have 2 plan A’s, each plan with its own celebrations and grief. Today I sit knowing that my journey is now an “Our Journey” and that it means we both have decisions and choices. Today I sit knowing that there aren’t guarantees about how our family is going to be shaped but I do know that motherhood is allowed to have 2 plan A’s,

Detours to Dreams

4 days after my “Martin Luther King” moment, a detour happens.

My doctor gently confronts me with the fact that my tiredness – ongoing and insatiable, insomnia driven, driven regardless of the amount of hours I do and don’t sleep isn’t something that I have imagined. My adrenal glands have no more give. This has led to other complications but effectively they are a little tired. Oh. I didn’t expect that and yet I knew.

It explains why despite the harder I try, the more I feel like I am not getting anywhere, why my tendency to cry easily has turned into something I am struggling to control and manage. It explains why my body is struggling more and more to get joy out of the physical – where I love being up the mountain and yet the very idea of pushing hard to get there fills me with anxiety and concern that energy wise I am not sure I can get there.

Part of me is very angry that this happens now – just when discussions and dreams are getting real.
Part of me is very relieved that I finally know why I feel like this way and that it isn’t my imagination.
Part of me also is learning that actually, maybe this is a good time to stop and reflect on what is needed for the next season.

See the dream I have is a pretty consuming dream that can’t happen while my life is full of everything else that it is full of at the moment.

I am not always very good at releasing things that I enjoy doing when they seem consistent.
I know that I have made choices and lived a full life in the last 10 years – with gratitude for much that has been achieved, and often silent acknowledgment of the background stress in the process of getting to the grateful.

I don’t think that God caused my tiredness and this detour. I do think that this detour may be a grace season from God though.

This detour is a gift. It’s forcing the slowdown, settle down and check in about what does the day need to look like. I wish that I could say this happened more naturally for me than what it does.

It’s encouraging rather than forcing me to reflect on what does the next decade need to hold.

I have never had to reflect on personally and professionally in the same way that I do now entering my 40’s. There is permission to say I choose not to do things the way I did in my 30’s. There is permission granted to live and love just as intentionally but with a different focus.

I am still struggling to envision what this could look like.
I am still thinking that the dream is going to be an add-on to what is.
If I am very honest, it can’t be.

It means a new season and I don’t know what that looks like yet.