Do you know that book I Love You Like Crazy Cakes? For years, I have mostly avoided it. I read it once to Marcie when she was young, and I couldn't get through the last two pages of the story without choking up. So off the bookshelves it went to live in picture-book heaven. Because I couldn't handle it.
Tate pulled it off the shelf one night as part of his bedtime three-book-routine. I'd forgotten why it landed on the bookshelf. And then I turned the first page and started to read him the story.
I change some of it. It's a story about a woman who adopts a little girl from China. The rooms full of little girls from China in the story doesn't fit Tate because he is a boy. So I change the story. Instead of a room full of baby girls, it's just a room full of babies.
Luckily, Tate can't read yet. So it works for us. The story itself is universal. You know, among children adopted from China.
Anyway, in the last couple pages, the woman in the book cries as she puts her new baby to sleep-- the tears are for the child's Chinese mother, who could not keep the baby. And the mother promises to always keep the Chinese woman alive in their home.
Tonight, after we read the story, I asked Tate, "Did you know you have TWO mommies?" Tate giggled. I told him (again) that he has a Chinese mommy, and he grew in her tummy. And I told him that he has me- I get to be his regular, every day, real mommy. I told him that his Chinese mommy grew him inside her- that she made him. She fed him good foods and kept him warm while she grew him in her belly. And now I keep him warm and I feed him food. And I'm so, so lucky to be his mommy now.
Tate asked if I have two mommies, and I told him I did not. Just the one mommy. She is a great mommy, by the way. He pondered this for a moment. And then Casey chimed in with his story of his birthmom. He talked about how he doesn't remember her and he misses her. And how all the kids in our house have two moms- moms that grew them and me. "You don't have two mommies?" Tate asked me one last time. "Nope," I said. "Just the one." And there was this barely audible response- like a cross between a sigh and a cluck of the tongue. I'm not sure if it came from Tate or Casey, but it was as if the boys were feeling the tiniest bit sorry for me.
Two things struck me about this exchange:
1. I cannot possibly understand or predict what it is like to grapple with the concept of having two mothers because one made the choice to place you for adoption and the other so desperately wanted you to join her family. Maybe nothing. But whatever it's like, my kids will have each other. And I'm really glad for that.
2. In American society today, normal is whatever you make it. The other day, we talked about how our families have long histories of lengthy marriages. My grandfather is just about to turn 90, and he and my grandmother have been married for more than 60 years. My parents have been married for over 40. Jason's parents have been married for more than 40 years. And they all still like each other, too. But other families look different. Some have step-parents. Some have half-siblings. Some kids have three or four grandmothers. Some kids have two moms who are raising them. These constructs don't matter so much to me. Or to the kids. And they don't seem to care - or mind - how they got here. At least not yet. So we're creating our own normal. And I feel pretty good about that.