Ever got to know someone and love them, and then discovered something about them that blew your mind away so much, that all of a sudden your love, which was already high, goes through the roof? And then you find out another thing, and you are like, in awe of the person? Yeah, that’s where I am with the writer of this post.
Mama’s Comfort Camp member Ann is someone I know from Temple, she is the rabbi’s grown daughter. She lives in the NYC area, and I see her only a few times a year when she comes up to Ithaca for Jewish Holidays. Because of Passover I got to see her at the Mama’s Comfort Camp birthday party last Sunday (the party was the day before Passover. Remind me not to do that again. But the upside was that Ann was in town for it).
This is Ann’s 3rd post at the Mama’s Comfort Camp. Her first two were about her experiences with pregnancy loss.
A disclaimer: Some of the dialogue has been paraphrased. But it is true to the message as heard by Ann.
Passing the mic to Ann:
I’m a rock star. I chalk my hair, wear skinny jeans and stay up late. There are frequently half-empty bottles all around me. I’m easily confused for a superhero with my black boots and fabulous hair. Superheroes have fabulous hair. Don’t they?
But I’m not a superhero. I’m just a rock star. I run with a motley crew of rock stars. We’re easily identified by our magic wands, pixie dust, and shared virtual cups of hot cocoa. This may not sound very rock-star-ish but trust me when I tell you, we are rock stars: People frequently scream our names, we can’t go anywhere without an entourage, and when we get together, you never know the things that will come out of our mouths. We’re rock stars. And I’m the biggest one.
Well, kind of.
I don’t actually chalk my hair. I did have my hair-goddess SIL apply this really hip brown-red ombre to my objectively stunning locks. Then we spent the afternoon over fro yo trying to figure out why we couldn’t see it.
The jeans may be “skinny.” But, they’re also from The Children’s Place. Mostly because I’m 5’1”.
But, I do stay up late. I do the dishes, prepare meals, then email a few clients. And on certain weeks of certain months, I care for a child who’s not mine. I bathe her, I clothe her, I wake up at night with her. Then I will place her in her parents’ arms and go back to my regularly scheduled life.
The intricacies of what being an “interim boarding care parent” means are clearly for another post. Or a book. But from the time these babies are born until the time they are adopted, they are in my care.
“I’m proud of you,” says my single male friend.
“She’s lucky to have you,” says the older woman in synagogue.
“Even my children tell me what good people you are,” says the young mother in the grocery store.
Wait. WHAT? What’d *I* do? I’M the lucky one. I get to snuggle with babies, play dress up and enjoy their first coos, then be present for the swell of emotion as they meet their parents for the first time. And through it all, I actually do. I feel like a rock star.
That is, until they send me Adira. Her Hebrew name betrays her Asian heritage. And she cries. A lot. I can’t get her to stop. I beg my children for help.
“Hold her? Please? I think she needs another bottle.”
“Can you burp her? I HAVE to go to the bathroom.”
I am defeated, depressed, and not very good at this at all. And the words of the doubters, the haters, the detractors—those that I have successfully ignored until now—come at me full force:
“Aren’t you worried about the effect on your children?”
Well, they’re really good with the babies…
“You don’t really have enough room for that. Do you?”
Well, no. It’s quite tight. But…
“Why do you do this?”
Why? Because I…
I’m struggling. I can’t keep my eyes open or my head above water. I need help.
I text my single male friend.
I need a pep talk.
“Can’t talk, sweetie. I have a refinery to build. Tell me all about it when I get home.”
I call my girlfriend.
I’m a hot mess.
“Why, honey? Let’s talk when I get back from Brussels.”
I have to go to sleep. I cry to my children. They nod and they give the baby a bottle. And I feel like a failure. And not so much like a rock star at all.
I take to The Social Network and explain my plight, how I’ve decided to cut myself some slack. Then someone thoughtfully points out that I didn’t actually give birth to her.
The next day, another Facebook post about Adira. Just an update, not a cry for help. My offline message alert goes off.
“You know you’re really self-righteous, don’t you?” What? Is that a joke? But why would that be funny?
My hands shake. The tears well up in my eyes. I’m angry. And embarrassed. Because maybe it’s true. So I do this kind of weird thing. I take it up with the other rock stars. They really do exist. They’re a closed facebook group known as “Mama’s Comfort Camp” and most of them are strangers. So I can tell them my deepest, darkest, most outrageous, embarrassing secrets.
Someone just told me I was self-righteous for posting about the interim boarding care we do. She may have been joking. I can’t tell. OMG, mamas! Talk me down, talk me down, talk me down!
And they do. Sixty of them. Sixty magic wand-carrying, skinny jeans-wearing, hurt-my-kid-and-I’ll- cut-you-chanting rock stars.
Would you think it was self-righteous if someone you knew posted about this?
Are you judging yourself for being proud of your work? Do you think it’s not work to be proud of? Or do you think people shouldn’t admit on Facebook if they’re proud of their work?
I think I have no right to my pride.
Wait. Is being self-righteous such a bad thing?
Well, no. I guess not. But I just don’t feel I have a right to these feelings because I’m a volunteer. And I should just…volunteer.
But everyone should volunteer and not everyone does… Would you want your daughter to be proud of herself in the same situation?
Bottom line, you are doing God’s work. That’s massive.
I am godly, I am proud, I am a rock star. I am awesome, you are awesome, Mama’s Comfort Camp is awesome.
And with that, I begin to feel more like a rock star. I wear babies and shop at Costco, loading my own cart and unpacking my own groceries. I serve dinner and help clients with their “makeover emergencies.” And I feed, change, and swaddle someone else’s baby because I’ve committed to giving her the most compassionate start to life possible. And, because I’m a rock star.
Nighttime. Adira’s crying. Again. Only this time, I don’t feel like such a failure. So I massage the air out of her little belly and I kiss the formula off her sticky face. This child whose first steps I’ll never see and whose first words I’ll never hear.
I sing quietly as she drifts off to sleep and deposit her gently into the bed next to mine, knowing that in a matter of days, she’ll have a different name…and a different home.
Why do I do it? Because. I’m a rock star.
How about you? Are you a rock star? I bet you are. Rock on!
I love this woman.
Ann doesn’t have a blog.
Please help me convince her to give her special voice its own home on the internet.
And back at our FB Mama’s Comfort Camp refueling station (if you are not a member yet, please join us, it’s free and open to all mothers!), we are sharing hot cocoa together on this thread:
(Permission to use the members’ real names and FB avatars was granted. Confidentiality is a top priority at the Camp.)
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