May 9, 2010. While I spend Mother’s Day with my children and husband, relishing in their homemade cards and the flowers they picked out one by one with Daddy’s diligent help, my thoughts stray toward memories of my mother. The other day I screamed at Sophie so loudly, and for so long, I nearly scared myself. She kept pushing my buttons, and then pushing them again, until I reached the very edge of my patience: talking under her breath, saying “oh come on,” or my favorite, “what the —,” every time I asked her to do something, arguing about every little word I uttered, and outright refusing to listen and take direction. Despite knowing she’s ADHD and suffers with significant anxiety, it’s still hard for me to understand the anger and attitude that leads a 7 year old to respond this way without interruption for weeks on end. I know I tend to be generous with my personal history, especially in terms of the relationship with my parents and siblings while growing up, but I honestly can’t think of a single instance that I spoke to either of my parents the way Sophie speaks to us on what lately has been a daily basis. And my lack of smart-mouthed remarks and eye rolling was not because my parents instilled the fear of death in me or because I was timid and afraid of my own shadow. Quite the contrary, I was plenty talkative and full of mischief. But I was also respectful, and probably more aware of other’s feelings than most kids my age. So today, on Mother’s Day, I wish my own mother were here so that I could talk to her about these problems. I also wish the depth and solidness of the relationship with my children, especially Sophie, might one day be as strong as the one I shared with my mother. I can’t help but reminisce about that time not so very long ago when the roles were reversed, when I was the young child revering her mother. The hip cat glasses, the way I used to twirl her charm bracelet during church, how I never understood why she wouldn’t get her hair wet in the ocean, and the way she shyly covered her mouth when she was embarrassed; but mostly, how I knew in my heart that she understood and loved me more than anyone in the world. If I had a bad day at school, my mother would know the instant I set foot in the door, no matter how hard I tried to hide it. She knew me better than I knew myself, and there was tremendous security in that truth. As Mother’s Day comes to a close, I wonder whether Sophie will long for me when my life is through the way I yearn for my mother, dead nine years now, every single day. I don’t mean to sound morose; I’m talking about love, respect, connection, acceptance, comfort and beautiful family bonds. I didn’t give birth to Sophie, though I wish I had, and I sometimes fear that my lack of maternal authenticity could widen the smallest cracks in our bond and one day lead to gaping, painful wounds. After all, Sophie has already lost her birth mother, as has Peter, a fact neither of them has connected yet, at least not consciously, to this annual day of honor. I want Sophie and Peter both to feel as loved and cherished as I felt by my mother, an imperfect woman just like me. But because my mother’s love and commitment to us was entirely unassailable, she was everything to me; therefore she was perfect, and still is. I want to be that kind of mother to my children, and especially for my daughter, who I have so much to teach and from whom I have so much to learn. But maybe the loss she’s already suffered, a loss I didn’t endure until I was grown, is too much for her young heart to set aside, even for a moment. Until we adopted, I had little experience with anger and primal wounds, scars that run so deep they travel the speeding course of the very blood that fuels their hearts and souls. I hope I’m the one whose unfailing love can show Sophie that there is a happier, freer, more content way to live. For Peter, I hope he knows each day that he’s loved, that he’s accepted for who he is, and that his “real” mother, me, would fight entire armies to guard against harm to his beautiful heart and wounded mind. No one ever told me how difficult being a mother would be, and I guess I’m glad. Maybe Mother’s Day is really a day of forgiveness. Maybe that’s what honor means, because all of us, from time to time, deserve a little forgiveness in favor of the good, the triumphs, the happy moments we string together to form for our children a ribbon of silky, lovely, flowing memory.