When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

January 25, 2010


My first babies were born under the spigot of my childhood home in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Bored with actual dolls, I began filling up hotdog-shaped balloons with the garden hose, transforming them into three-dimensional creatures in the quirky corners of my imagination.  I’d draw faces on the multi-colored balloons with magic markers, strip my various dolls down to their white baked-on underpants, and liberate the dresses and bloomers for my water borne creations.  Then I carefully placed them in extra long breadbaskets swiped from the kitchen cupboard, taking precautions with a dishtowel to protect their fragile latex skin.  Snug in their baskets, I strolled my water babies around the backyard in a green wheelbarrow, singing lullabies and telling magical stories of my own devising.  Sometimes Joy, my best friend then and now, would participate in the ritual.  We’d pretend we were sisters and the water balloons were boisterous, rowdy cousins who required time-outs and occasional spankings.

Since my mother forbade me to bring them indoors, I’d carefully tuck them into their baskets, using dust rags for blankets, and lay them in the back of a garage shelf for the long, lonely night ahead.  I loved my limbless babies and mourned each time one began to leak, or even worse, explode into liquid oblivion.  My obsession with mothering the water balloon babies began when I was in nursery school and ran its course by the time I entered first grade.  I would wait thirty more years to experience again the loving, and at times harrowing, responsibility of motherhood.

I intend to skip everything that happened in my life between the water balloon babies and the decisions leading to Birobidzhan, Russia.  Suffice it to say I met a man and fell in love, tried the traditional means of procreation along with space age medical ones, and finally set about creating our family through international adoption.  Our odyssey has been at times ordinary and astonishing, evoking feelings of shining triumph that are sometimes dwarfed by moments of profound regret and sorrow.  The vision of motherhood I developed as a young child and stubbornly clung to through my mid-thirties did little to prepare me for the challenge of loving and reaching a child whose brain was damaged by unspeakable hardship and poor prenatal judgment.  In the simplest sense, this is a story of rebirth (my son’s) and re-invention (mine).  Every day I work hard to transform myself into a mother who can successfully parent our son, a special needs child who often and actively resists the tug of intimate family life, clinging all the while to the hope that somewhere there is a path that leads to a richer life for him.  This is the story of Peter, our search for a magical path, and my journey toward forgiveness and peace.

Our Water Babies (Fall 2006)

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  1. What a sad, touching, but oh so beautiful story. The patience and hearts of Mary and Pat are amazing!!! It made me laugh, cry and wonder why I have not yet opened my heart and home to adopted children. I know it takes special people to parent, guide and love children with physical and mental challenges and Mary and Pat are special beyond words! Thank you for sharing this special story of your family and your trials and tribulations!

    Comment by Kelly Lysinger — January 27, 2010 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Kelly – you’re gonna make me cry, old friend 🙂

      Comment by whenrainhurts — January 28, 2010 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

  2. Congratulations on your new children. I wish you much happiness!
    Lindsey Petersen

    Comment by 5kidswdisabilities — January 27, 2010 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

  3. I couldn’t believe how gripping this was to read. It hit me out of the blue. Very well written, interesting, and touchingly sad (crushing really).

    Comment by Amanda Griffith — March 26, 2010 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. The honesty in your writing and the sincere love that you both show towards your son and his difficult disability are touching.

    Comment by Kelly — April 10, 2010 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

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