I got a text from my best friend last week that said, “What do you want to do for Mother’s Day?”
I texted back: “Wow.”
It hadn’t hit me. My first Mother’s Day. In a whirlwind of firsts, here was one I hadn’t considered until Catholic Charities gave me this opportunity to reflect. But let me start at the beginning.
I’m Leigh and Maggie is my daughter. Catholic Charities and their wonderful adoption program has helped to make us a family. I found out Maggie existed on a Thursday. I learned she would be mine – I would be hers – on a Monday while sitting in a Zoom meeting for work. The first person I told was my work colleague and when she asked how she could help I said, “Can you cover my 3 o’clock?”
By Tuesday Maggie was in my arms. When I walked into the hospital to meet her, she was this tiny baby, just 2 weeks old, all bundled up in a swing. I sat on the floor in front of her and cried. The nurse cried; our representative from Catholic Charities cried. The baby was the only one who didn’t cry. I remember the nurse asked, “Would you like to hold her?” And I think I responded, “Can I?”
It takes a while for it to sink in. This miracle in front of me was mine – mine to love, mine to care for, mine to keep safe. She was a dream for so long – a lifetime of dreams – and now she was a reality. The next time I buzzed to come back to her room at the hospital the nurse casually answered, “Come on in Mama.” And there it was. Mama. I was a Mama. I was Maggie’s Mama.
When you adopt a child, one of the most common questions you hear is “How long did the process take?” My response is corny but heartfelt when I tell them, “Exactly how long it was supposed to take because it was always meant to be Maggie. I was always meant to be Maggie’s Mama.”
Since that chilly Thursday in December Maggie and I have been nonstop, and my family and friends have been along for the ride. As the first baby in my friend group and the first one in 17 years for my family, to say that our village is excited would be an understatement. You can’t go through the process of adoption without a strong support system and mine has exceeded my wildest expectations. My mom (Maggie’s GG), my brothers and sisters-in-law, my five amazing, wonderful nieces, my best friends, my colleagues – so many people have shown up with their time, their prayers, their food, and, oh my goodness, their baby clothes.
Together Maggie and I have been to parades and symphonies and Pels games. We’ve planted Maggie roses and had long (albeit one-sided) conversations about the mysteries of baking bread. We’ve met her birth family and celebrated Maggie’s milestones with them. At just five months old, Maggie and I are already in negotiations about her first pet. We’re ready for Jazz Fest and planning her first road trip.
When I dreamed of becoming a mom, I thought a lot about showing a child this beautiful, beautiful world. I wrote in my adoption book about the fun we would have and the places we would see. What I didn’t expect, what I didn’t realize, is that she would be the one showing me true beauty and grace.
Because when I think about Maggie and I’s first Mother’s Day and I reflect on the past 5 months of motherhood, it’s not the world that comes to mind first. It’s me and her. It’s the snuggles before bedtime when she’s sleepy and clean from her bath and ready for a book. It’s her smile when she sees me or how she lights up when she recognizes family and friends. It’s the giggles coming through the monitor when she wakes up from a nap. It’s the confusion and wonder in her eyes the first time I sat her in grass and the anticipation of introducing her to sand. Small moments, to be sure, but to me, nothing less than miraculous.
Happy Mother’s Day, Maggie. Thank you for being mine.