This evening Miss M saw a commercial with a pregnant woman and said “awww, she has a baby in her tummy! All mommies have a baby in their tummy.” I am always looking for ways to talk about adoption with her so I took this moment to tell her that actually, not all moms have babies this way. I told her, “I didn’t have you in my tummy, but I’m still your mommy.” She followed that with, “ok, may I have more graham crackers please?” End of conversation, right? Nope.
During our bedtime routine tonight as I was kissing her goodnight, she looked at me and said “you’re not my mom.” I (of course) responded with “yes, I am.” I looked over at my husband he looked sort of shocked and didn’t know how to respond. I explained that I’m her mom, and he’s her dad, and we love her more than anyone in the whole world. She said, “yeah, but you’re not my mom.”
I really didn’t know what to say so I asked who she thinks her mom is and she said “Auntie Corinne” (aka, my BFF). This made me smile because we spent the afternoon with Auntie Corinne and M just loves her. But I actually expected her to tell me that her birth mom is her mom because we talk a lot about adoption in our house and how she grew in her birth mom and how we were chosen to be her mom and dad.
As I pondered this, she followed it up with “and she may be a bad guy. But maybe not – maybe she’s a good guy.” Uh….We’ve had a lot of super hero movies and books in our house and at daycare lately, so I get the good guy/bad guy thing (although not in relation to the topic at hand, but hey, she’s a toddler), but the whole random conversation just caught me off guard. (For the record, Auntie Corinne is definitely a good guy.)
Hearing my daughter say “you’re not my mom” seriously made my heart ache. I’ve been preparing for tough conversations about adoption since we brought her home from the hospital, but that statement hurt. We read books and talk about adoption all the time with her. We have photos of her birth family in her room and we see them fairly often so she knows them. We explain the difference between “mom and dad” and “birth mom and birth dad” when we talk about or visit her birth family.
But, she’s 3. She doesn’t really understand all of it yet. What she understands is that babies grow in a mommy’s tummy and I told her she didn’t grow in my tummy, so clearly I must not be her mom. How confusing this must be to a toddler!
To top it all off, we’ve had a lot of conversations about babies lately. My SIL is pregnant again, one of M’s classmates is getting a sister soon, and her birth dad has another baby. So now, Miss M keeps asking me when she’s going to get a baby sister. Sigh.
My heart aches because I can’t promise her a sister. Or a sibling at all. My heart aches because I can’t just grow a baby the way she understands. My heart aches because it’s so hard for us to grow our family and we have to just wait for someone to choose us. My heart aches because I want so badly to make it easy for my toddler to understand her family but I know it’s going to take more conversations and more time and more patience and more love. Some days being a mom is so easy, but other days, my heart just aches.