Are You A Mommy?

2 Nov

Running into a previous co-worker at the grocery store, I chatted with her in-between acknowledging her little girl who was sitting in the basket cart. “Where’s your sweetie?” the child asked. I smiled at her realizing that because her mother calls her “sweetie”, she wondered where my sweetie was since there was no little girl in my cart.

“I don’t have a sweetie,” I replied but your mommy is lucky to have you for a sweetie.”

Then a few beats later the little girl interrupted asking, “Are you a mommy?” I could feel my breath stand still a few seconds. Moments before running into them I had dreaded turning down the aisle where they kept the cleaning supplies because it meant I had to pass the cat litter, which I no longer buy. I no longer have “sweeties.” I have also been thinking of whether I would seriously adopt a child and here was this old friend who has adopted a number of children. When we worked together I used to ask her about the process.


“No honey, I’m not a mommy,” I said to the little girl. Her mother and I continued talking.

Then to drive the stake in, the little girl interrupted with, “Where is your mommy?” By now tears were smarting in my eyes. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my mommy was in heaven. Nor would it have been appropriate to tell a four year old that I’ve been reflecting on the mother/daughter relationship for the last few months as I move into my next book project. Or, that the agent who is currently reviewing my book represented an author who ended up mothering a boy she met on the streets when he asked her for some spare change.

The same aunt that once said, “God is not subtle,” also told me there are more ways to serve and give our love than the traditional paradigm. That just because God did not bring me marriage and motherhood doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to give.

I thought about the selflessness required to raise a child but even more so, the selflessness required to raise a child who is not of own’s blood. While marriage is supposed to be selfless, so often we enter into courtship thinking about what the other will do for us. Women in particular are guilty of this thinking in terms of how the man will provide for them, ravish them, rescue them and sweep them off their feet. “What’s in it for me?” is the mentality that both genders fall susceptible to. Instead we should ask, “How can I love you? Serve you? Make your life better? How can we, as a “we” enrich not only our lives together but the lives of others?”

So maybe it isn’t so backwards to think about adopting a child before finding a mate. Maybe in this I will finally learn that in the end love is about sharing and giving not about what we’re going to “get”.

I know that if I really decide to adopt a child I am about all but killing the chances of finding a husband for I am at my most available now. I don’t have an ex-husband or children or astronomical debt. And despite being in my forties, I have the same body I did in my twenties. And yet, if we wait too long for the ship to sail we may never take the voyage. All I know is that the winds are stirring. And this heart wants to experience the journey of giving in some capacity besides one’s work in a world where there is such a profound need for love.

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