I think about her every day.
We are forever linked through one of the greatest joys of my life.
And I’ll never be able to tell her.
That’s what I find myself thinking about this, my first Mother’s Day as a mother.
I’ll never be able to say “Thank you” to the woman who started the job I’m blessed to continue. She is my daughter’s other mother.
I’ve shared here in this column how I’ve recently come to motherhood in a rather unconventional way.
A few years ago I started dating a single dad who was raising his daughter alone. She had been 8 years old when her mom died. 11-years-old when we met.
Last summer, her dad and I got married and this spring we completed our adoption.
There are no “step, half, kinda” or any other qualifiers in our home. I am a full-fledged, lunch-making, laundry-folding, carpool driving full-time mother.
Though, I like to joke about the drudgery, the truth is, being a Mom is a lifetime wish I had long ago let go of coming true.
And yet, I never forget the bittersweet twist, for my daughter’s first mother. Her loss, the loss of her young life, ends up being my gain.
I’m clear that I’m not here to replace her. Rather, this motherhood journey is one we will forever share.
I watch old family videos and see my daughter learning to walk, lunging into her mother’s arms. I hear them giggling when she says calls dinner “chicken stoob” instead of chicken stew. When she pats her mother’s throbbing head saying, “Mommy has a hairache.”
If I could meet my daughter’s other mother, I would share that when my husband tells our girl she has a trait “you get that from Mommy,” or “That’s just like your Mom,” she lights up with pride. We all know who he’s talking about and it’s not me.
I’m fine with this. My motherhood bucket already overflows with so much more than I ever thought I’d get to experience.
I’m now the one to tuck her in at night, to talk about boys, to shop for her dress for the upcoming end of year school dance. That’s she and I cuddling on the couch as we watch American Idol. That was my lap she was sitting on a few weeks ago when I let her steer the car down our quiet street. “You’re definitely going to be the one to teach me to drive,” she announced assessing who will be calmer, me or her father.
Those are the joys I get to have instead of her mom who left too soon.
“My school bus driver thinks I look more like you than Daddy,” she shared one day recently, seeming to relish the connection between us.
We got a big giggle out of that one, especially since we truly look nothing alike. I’m tall and dark-complected. She’s short and has skin as light and pure as a porcelain doll with blue eyes that someone recently told her look like two deep swimming pools.
The truth is the one she looks like the most right now is her grandfather, her Pops, her other mother’s father. As she grows she’s looking more and more like the beautiful young woman I see in the photo that hangs in her bedroom.
It was the first photo I hung when we all moved in together last summer. “I like to have pictures of people I love hanging in my home,” I explained to my new daughter. “And even though I never got to meet your mom, she’s one of my best friends simply because she made you.”
I’m thinking about the seven Mothers Days my daughter’s first mother was able to have, realizing on this, my first, none is promised to us.
Were I able to send her a card, I would write, “Thank you, for sharing this incredible journey with me. Together, we are raising one awesome girl.”