Who Are All These Women and Why Are They Standing in My Dining Room?

Who Are All These Women and Why Are They Standing in My Dining Room?

It could get crowded in my dining room with those three other women, the mothers of my adopted children. It made things tight bringing food out and clearing the table, struggling to inch past them, the skinny and stout, all with black hair and brown eyes, and the wide cheekbones that are the national trademark of Nicaragua.

It used to bother me a lot -- their silent clucking at what was for dinner, the suspicious eyes cast on the siblings. The slight head shakes wondering why I went all the way to another country to find children for my family. It bothered me. They just wouldn’t quit.

But after a while, the other mothers began to fade. It got so I could hardly make out the embroidery on their blouses and then, in a few years, they were just shadows on the dining room walls. I was glad. I wanted them to stop looking at me as if I had robbed them. I’m not a thief.

I only took what was left behind. Don’t come claiming them now.

That’s what I thought then.

My two sons were abandoned as babies, one after he’d been held and carried and nursed by his mother for the first six months of his life and the other the same day he was born, maybe never having been held by his mother at all.

We didn’t know. There was no way of knowing.

A few years ago, we went back to the place they were left in Nicaragua -- a women’s hospital in Managua. There we saw young women with babies, sitting on benches under shade trees, waiting to see the doctor, waiting for food, waiting to be picked up. They might have been waiting to leave their babies like my sons’ mothers had left theirs so long ago.

We didn’t know. There was no way of knowing.

My daughter last saw her mother when she was a very little girl, maybe four or five years old. She told me she saw her mother in her rocking chair, she went to her and put her hand on her arm, and her mother was dead. This is what she remembers.

We don’t know why her mother died. There was no way of knowing.

When the other mothers faded in my dining room, I thought they were gone for everyone. I took the place they left vacant. I was the only mother.

But then in the courtyard of an old hotel in Managua amid the tropical plants and a tiny fountain, I learned otherwise. Miriam, the government official who had arranged their adoptions, agreed to answer my children’s questions. Now teenagers, they sat in a circle, their yearning clear on their faces. One after the other, in the Spanish they learned in school, they asked. Can I find my mother? What happened to her? Where did she go?

Other Mothers
Credit: carigcloutier.

“We don’t know,” Miriam answered in the gentlest possible way. There is no way of knowing.

“Es imposible,” she said.

They just looked at her, their yearning rising from them like a vapor and floating into the night air.

In that moment, I knew what I hadn’t known before. The other mothers hadn’t disappeared. They had gone to live in my children’s silent places, stayed in the way they told stories and laughed at jokes, kept them attached to a place thousands of miles away, and talked to them at night when I wasn’t listening. They had never left.

For better or for worse, the other mothers are still here -- with them. And with me. All of us are still here.

 

Jan Wilberg
www.redswrap.wordpress.com

Related Posts

Mom Torture: Surviving the Dark Spots of Mothering

Mom torture n. 1 emotional pain experienced by a woman when her child is in distress 2 a strategy used to weaken a mother's resolve in regard to her own beliefs and practices 3 a primary cause of sleepless nights See also tough love.   Read more >

How I Became a Gluten-Free Mom

My sons were diagnosed with Celiac Disease when they were only seven and eight. After that everything changed for our family. First, my youngest boy was diagnosed and then our gastroenterologist told us that all of our children would have to be tested. That was when we discovered that my other boy had it too. Both had to go to the hospital to get a biopsy of their small intestine to confirm their diagnosis. Out of the three, only two were celiac patients. He went on to explain how what they had was different from an allergy and how it would affect their lives from now on.    Read more >

I Knew Her When, but I Didn't Know What Kind of Mom She Would Be

I like to say I knew her when. I knew her when her bangs were cut straight across with sewing scissors because the idea of spending real money on a haircut for a kid seemed outlandish to me. I knew her when she would dangle upside down from a metal bar at the playground, do a flip and land on her feet on the concrete while I covered my eyes and waited for the absence of crying. I knew her when she would sit across from me, a single mom with a single daughter, while we ate dinners made with a lot of macaroni and tomato soup.   Read more >

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.