I’ve been called a loving woman, an emotional chick, a crazy runner for donning my jogging gear in winter and trotting through Central Park, a fair poet, a passionate writer, an overtime thinker, a supportive sister and a daughter who has made her parents’ proud. But I’ve waited a lifetime to be called, mom.
Once I believed with my fingerprints taken and submitted, letters of recommendation from valued friends crafted, support group attendance made, every government I-you name-it-issued, and the home study submitted, the two year and half year wait for my daughter would soon come to an end. I’d head to Ethiopia and bring her home.
Well, it wouldn’t be my first miscalculation in life.
That shinny new thing I saw up the road turned out to be just another gleaming bus stop, a new place to rest and wait. And wait.
As an African American woman who came of age during the wild social ride of the 1970’s and 80’s, my parents’ instilled me with confidence. “You can achieve any goal,” they’d said. They never gave excuses in their lives and work. So, neither had I.
They never told me some challenges; some journeys would be easier with a partner or a sidekick. A ride or die guy.
The married couples I sit across from at the monthly waiting families meetings had faces coated with the same pain I saw in mine. But while I lie awake alone in bed, as nagging thoughts lit up my brain like evil fireflies, they had one another.
My sense of aloneness hadn’t just kept to the nights. It had the ability to rise up and cover me any and everywhere: standing on Manhattan’s the crowded streets, in jammed subway cars, even during a sumptuous meal at Babbo. The stillness took me down into a muted world, home to the silence of doubt and the silence of fear. The two silences hadn’t produced the same sensation but often yield the same result: a crushing, debilitating sadness.
But once I skimmed the bottom of the sea, churning up plankton and weeds, I realized an adoptive single mom in process had much in common with a long distance swimmer. I had to work my way to the surface, keep my head down, and reconnect to the energy required to reach dry land, with single steady stokes.
This blog is dedicated to every single baby mama-to-be, treading in the deep water, alone, waiting to finally be called by the name, mom.