We had friends in town a few weeks ago who were teaching a class at our office. They have terrific tow truck toys, and as I was browsing their selection, I was telling April all about my best friend and her adopted son. As I told April about the journey my friend took and how amazed I am by her decision and how happy I am for her to have a child, April summed it all up simply and emphatically, with the countenance of one speaking absolute truth, “It’s perfect: she was a mother without a child, and he was a son who needed a mother.” April has never laid eyes on my best friend or her son, but anyone who has seen them together would have to agree – it is perfect. I know it is not the path to motherhood that my friend imagined, but now, even after only a few months, I cannot imagine any other situation for my friend. I know that there are things she may wish were different, but they must pale compared to the love she feels for her son and the joy I hear in her voice when she says, “my son.” I love thinking about what kind of man he will be simply because he was adopted by my friend.
I have always thought about what kind of mother I will be – how I will be like my parents and how I will be different; how my husband and I will parent together. Since the first pregnancy, it has been in much sharper focus, and I have thought about all of the things I would love to teach my children. They will learn all about tow trucks and music and crafts; we will read together and sing together and dance together. This morning, I was watching the news and thinking about one of the stories and how I would have taught our children about bullying – the story I would tell them about the one time I will never forgive myself for when I made fun of someone who needed and deserved a good friend. She had a hard life, and I made it worse, and I would make sure that my children knew that there are some things that no apology or restitution can make right.
I have thought about how to teach my children about faith and love. I have thought about how to teach my children to love (or at least appreciate) different kinds of music and how to draw or paint or take good pictures or write poems and tell stories. But mostly, I keep thinking that it seems awfully sad that I have all these things to offer and no one to teach them to. My poor niece and nephew will probably get tired of me trying to pass on the gifts of books and crochet hooks and paint brushes. I know that there are other ways to get involved with children and pass on the things that were lovingly taught to me, but I’m not ready to be the odd neighborhood art teacher, and I’m not sure I want to work with groups of kids. Kind of hilarious coming from someone who wanted to be a teacher, but I am woefully lacking in the patience department right now.
So, for another little while, I will wait and see what happens and make lists in my head of the things I want to teach my children, knowing that the ones we lost must surely know more than I could ever have taught them. Christmas is more than a little bittersweet when you think of all the traditions and the stories that are passed from generation to generation. It’s really hard not to think about what Christmas with an almost three-year-old would have been like. But I think the hardest parts are not growing bitter over the thought that I could be a great mom and not using my lists as a bargaining chip with God: “See how much I could teach a little one? Now don’t you think I deserve to try?”