When I imagined having children, I first imagined…being able to have them. I mean being able to birth them, bring them home from the hospital, spend time with them as newborns. I imagined taking maternity leave where I would fill my days with mommy-and-me groups, befriending like-minded women all going through this massive stage of life together. We would exchange our horrifying labor-and-delivery stories, commiserate over cracked nipples and unwashed hair, and we would validate each other about just how hard it is to be a mom.
“You’re doing amazing,” my new Mom BFF (MBFF) would say to me.
“No, you’re doing amazing,” I would say. “Want to get coffee to avoid going home?” And of course she would.
But instead, I became an adoptive mom to two-year-old twins. And there are no new-mommy groups for new moms who don’t have new babies. Without a common space in which to meet them, I haven’t been able to make a new Adoptive Twin Mom Best Friend (ATMBFF).
Of course I feel so incredibly blessed; I struggled through infertility, I wasn’t able to have children the way I imagined, but all of this allowed me to be a mother to my boys — who are my greatest joy. But I wish I had someone to complain to about my unwashed brand-new-confused-mom hair. I feel like perhaps I’ve missed out on the sorority of motherhood, an alliance I imagine is an important part of the transition process from child-free to having children. I feel like there is a collective wisdom I am not privy to. I feel lonely.
I find myself standing on the periphery of the park as the boys play, surveying other moms talking to each other. Did they come here together? Did they just meet at the sandbox? What are they talking about? And where are we all getting our kids’ hair cut these days?
I am taken back to my high-school days, wondering how to approach them. I imagine myself sidling up to them, awkwardly blurting out, “Kids, amiright ladies!?” But I’m too busy making sure the boys don’t launch themselves down the slide head-first — while I’m also pretending to be a dinosaur with them and then a monster and then a shark, and by the time I look up again, my new BFFs have gone.
I would even settle for a virtual mom friend. I remember when my friend was pregnant with her first, she signed up with a birth-month group community on the “What to Expect” website, where she could connect with women who were due the very same month that she was. She was able to confer with women who had given birth within days and weeks of her about postpartum bodies and breastfeeding and sleeping. I scan the list of “What to Expect” groups, and while there is a forum for twins and multiples, I feel like many of my questions are more fundamental; I am still a brand-new mom.
It’s hard to be a new mom to non-new kids. Out in the world, I feel like it appears that I should know what I’m doing by now — that by this stage, I should know how to expertly unfold their stroller like the other moms do. Except I don’t. I still need to watch YouTube videos as I fight it out of the trunk, trying to keep the boys occupied as they wait in the car. I feel a little insecure in front of other mothers, worrying that maybe there is something about giving birth that instills in women a heightened instinct that I, as a non-birth-mother, will never have. Maybe the placenta grows cells that imbue you with fundamental motherly knowledge? Like knowing to send Valentine’s cards for the entire class on Valentine’s Day so your kids aren’t the only ones not to gift their friends (oops)? Surely a mom BFF would have told me that. Are my sons missing out because I don’t have a similarly situated mom to talk to?
As I wonder this, my phone beeps. It’s a text from the boys’ foster mother — an incredible woman to whom I will be forever grateful for having cared for my sons before I could. We’ve kept in touch since the emotional day I brought the boys from her loving home to ours. We catch up on our kids; I tell her about the boys’ latest adventures and she tells me about her daughter, who will be going off to university in the fall. My sons’ foster mother has raised a wonderful woman, and has loved so many different children for various lengths of time.
“I signed the boys up for soccer,” I tell her. “The boys run in the opposite direction of the ball. Should I be waiting on extracurriculars?”
She tells me a sweet anecdote about her daughter playing soccer when she was small. I appreciate the anecdote — and all of her insights. It is she who taught me how to change a diaper, never making me feel inadequate during the transition period (ie when I sent one of the boys back to her after an outing with a diaper on…backwards). It is she who taught me how to hold them, how to soothe them, how to love them selflessly and unconditionally. And I realize that, just as I did not have children the way I imagined, my mom “village” doesn’t look as I had imagined either. In fact, it’s better than I imagined.
It’s okay if I don’t meet other moms at the park. I still have an incredible mom to look up to.