I remember when I had my first child, my son, and how all of a sudden, it felt like my heart had grown exponentially. In fact, it actually felt like my heart was walking around outside my body - well, maybe not quite walking - but all swaddled up in that tiny bundle of blankets. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way, because I've seen a quote somewhere that says something to that effect, too. It's that unique mother-love...that love that sees no bounds, seems to have no beginning and no end, and reaches higher than the heavens. What, then, when a child ends up with not one, but TWO mothers?
If I look exhausted in the picture, it's because I am. I think Shelia was too. Exhausted, but mostly just super sad that the weekend was coming to an end, and she was going to have to say good-bye to her son. To our son. To Jeremiah.
It was an exhausting weekend. Emotionally, physically...in every way. This was, after all, the first time Shelia was coming to visit Jeremiah since he came to live with us in November, when he was just 8 days old. She could hardly wait...she's been bouncing off the walls, driving her roommate crazy for weeks, waiting anxiously for the date to arrive. I was nervous, wondering how it was going to go. I'll be honest - and I was honest with her before she came - I was afraid things weren't going to go well. I was afraid her feelings were going to get hurt. I was afraid she'd come, and Jeremiah would see her as a stranger, and not be comfortable with her, when she would want to be doing all of his care and cuddling...and I'd be left in an awkward position of feeling like I had to "rescue" him - because I told her up front I wasn't going to "force" him to be comfortable with her and wouldn't let him cry.
I prayed in the weeks leading up to the visit, and I prayed hard. I asked that the Lord would get any of my own pride or other issues out of the way, and that whatever HE wanted to happen this weekend would happen. I also prayed that my heart would be open to hear His voice through all of this. Because this whole situation is still so unknown. The legal guardianship still isn't finalized - our next court date is later this month. Shelia is in total support of us having legal guardianship...it's just been legal hold-ups. And since the beginning, Shelia made it clear that if she couldn't be Jeremiah's mom by the time he's a year old, that she wanted us to adopt him. But I know from life's experience that none of us truly know what the future holds...Jeremiah's coming into our lives in the first place is certainly a testament to that fact!
God is always faithful to answer our prayers - and this weekend was no different. Shelia arrived on Friday as "Jeremiah's birth mom, who I knew from a long time ago," and she left tonight as "Jeremiah's other mommy, who I'm getting to know again." Jeremiah was perfectly comfortable with Shelia the whole weekend, and while perhaps a bit slow coming with the smiles the first afternoon, by today he was giggling with her just like he does with me. God reminded me that SHE was in an impossibly hard situation - coming into OUR home, to see HER son, who we've been raising and loving and kissing and squeezing and snuggling and feeding and changing and dressing...and I'm sure she felt like she would be under a microscope. She was perfectly humble, never got offended when I told her how we did things, and soaked up every detail of Jeremiah's life that she could. And she was great with him.
She was great with me too. She certainly knew my weak spot - or my strong point - one or the other - crafting! From the first day she was here, we were in my craft room together...and you know? There's just something about being creative together with someone that helps you bond. We painted on onesies for Jeremiah. We worked out scrapbook layouts and made a mini-album for her to put pictures of Jeremiah into. We took a shopping trip to a local stamping/scrapbook store - and made out big at their sidewalk sale. [And Shelia was practically glowing while she wore Jeremiah in a sling out in public for the first time, and everyone who passed us by told her how cute HER baby was. And I can honestly say I was so happy for her. I had taught her how to wear him in the sling, and it was my sling, and I was so glad I had made that experience possible for her.] And today I made a gift for her to give her mom for her birthday, while she got in her last snuggles with Jeremiah for this visit.
When I woke up this morning, and realized it was Shelia's last day here, I felt sad for her. As a mom, I can't imagine living so far away from my child. I can't imagine not being able to see him everyday, to touch him, to smell him, to kiss and squeeze him. She made an incredibly tough choice when she decided that she couldn't give him the life she wanted for him right now, and that takes an enormous amount of love. But that love, I understand. And so we have something really BIG in common...and that is our enormous love for one little boy.
Shelia's coming back in 3 weeks for another visit, and hopes to continue monthly visits. We don't know exactly what the future holds. What I know is that in 3 weeks, I'm going to teach Shelia how to wear Jeremiah in a woven baby wrap, and we're going to do some more crafting together while she snuggles our son.