When we started our quest for parenthood, we knew the question would come up eventually. However, I didn’t think it would come up at four years old. I guess I thought it would come up when he was a teenager. Yes, I realize I was living in a fantasy world, but can you blame a guy for wishing for later rather than sooner for a topic like this?
As I mentioned in a previous post, I still remember when our son Peyton (right in photo above) finally said his first word: “Dada!” We were overjoyed, to say the least. Of course, I worked for months to get him to say it. Imagine our surprise, though, at his second word: “Mama!” It took months of my saying “Dada” as I fed him, held him in my arms, or played with him on the floor for him to finally utter the word. But “Mama?” At first, we thought he was trying to say “Nana,” for one of his grandmothers. Then one day, he was playing in his playpen, and, as he stood up, he stepped on the hand of a dolly that his Nana had given him, and the doll cried out, “Mama!“ Ah…mystery solved!
I think “Mommy” can be a scary topic in a two-dad household, regardless of whether your child came to you through adoption, foster care, surrogacy, or some other means. Not scary in a traditional sense, but more in the uncomfortable, I’m-not-sure-how-to-address-this-topic-with-my-child sense. When you put your children in preschool, and they are around others who have moms, they notice the difference.
So, what do you do when the question of where or who is my Mommy arises? While we have an open-adoption situation with his maternal grandmother, the birth mother has decided to move forward with her life. She may come around at some point, and that is fine with us, but for now she wants to keep her distance. So, when our little guy asked the question, we were very matter-of-fact and told him that he had a birth mother and what her name was. Fortunately for us, we also had several pictures of her, some current and some when she was his age and a little older. The pictures helped him connect the name with a face.
And that was that. No major meltdown, no confusion…what was I worried about? At some point, he may ask to meet her, and hopefully she will be back in the picture by then. I guess my discomfort comes from the fact that our boys came from very different situations. Our son Jackson knew his birth parents, but we brought Peyton home from the hospital at two days old, so he never met his. I never fully appreciated the role two boys play in each other’s lives until I saw Jackson telling Peyton what he knew about his birth mother. (Jackson met her when Peyton was born.) At that point, I realized that the bond that tied them to each other was much bigger and stronger than I ever imagined. It was truly brotherly.
I guess what I am getting at is: Don’t sweat the small stuff (even when it seems mountain-sized) and never underestimate the power of siblings (biological or not)!