My birth child's birthday is coming.
I informed my husband a week ahead to pick up a cake on his way home on the day of.
I have spoken to my children about filling our cup with goodness. How mommy may need a few quiet moments in the coming days to help empty her cup of ick and refill it with joy and peace.
I informed my work that I will need the day of and next to process and grieve.
Why am I sharing this?
Because mental and emotional health is just as important as physical. And communicating our expectations and needs is a necessity for processing grief. Because I am a Birthmother and 16 years out I still weep for the child I loved and still love on her birthday.
If I expected my husband to remember a date but didn't I would feel forgotten. As a Birthmother in a closed adoption being felt forgotten is already heavy on my heart in other ways so I need to set up successes for myself to not feel that way by my support system.
If I expected my children to let mommy have a moment to herself while the youngest napped and they stepped on that time with arguing and tattle tailing I'd be hurt that they didn't see mommy was struggling. But I cannot place that emotional complexity on them so I inform them what I need and expect to have to calmly remind them. Why not get a sitter in this case? I have been asked by those who are curious and want to help bring me back to a place of peace and rest. The reason is because I need to have my children with me on this day; I may need to step away for a few quiet moments to cry or reflect or do whatever it is that my inner cup is beckoning me to do to empty some of the sorrow and refill with peace. But placing my children into the care of another on this tender day is salt in the wound. The connection is that just a few short days after my birth child's birthday I placed her into the care of others. I NEED my children by my side, though I will need moments, just moments, away.
If I didn't inform my work that the coming days were going to be difficult and speaking adoption is not what I need to help me come up from the pending wave of grief then I would struggle for more days than in the past.
Birthmothers don't simply place their child(ren) and walk away unscathed. Forever grief abounds like a wound that feels fatal at first but with intentional work towards healing we heal and learn what we need to cope day-to-day. Eventually, we morph our coping and tend to our wounds just when the occasional reopening needs tending--painful openings that can occur on days like birthdays or relinquishment days.
Most days I am great. I have done years of bathing my wound in grace, bandaging with my truth soaked linens and allowing others to help hold my hand and at times carry me when my wound was so raw and more than I could bear alone. Yet, even though I am years out from my wound being fresh, this time of year (and when triggers come in a not so calendar fashion) I need to be extra tender, extra intentional, in nursing my wound back to health and speaking to my support system about what that wound care needs to look this time around.