Mother's Day remembrance
I cannot think of Mother's Day without this memory coming to the surface, the two are forever linked in my mind. Now some of you might be a little shocked by this story, I know everyone I've ever told it to has been. But for those of you who have been reading my blog will realized it's just 'par for the course' of my childhood.
New Friends, New School
After I had become 'damaged goods' and enrolled into special education, I was sent to a different school district in the next town over. The school was known for a good special education program, and it was
I had spend a Saturday night sleeping over at one of my new friends house. With time I have lost when this exactly happened, but I'm fairly certain I was in the 6th grade so I was around 10 or 11 when this happened. Like most children, we don't keep track of specific holidays unless it has something in it for us. It's no great surprise that I wasn't aware that Mother's Day was the next day after my sleep over. Normally a parent will assist a child with procuring a gift or card for Mother's/Father's day, or at least help remind the child of this date. So Sunday afternoon, my friend's mother piles everyone in the car and we stop at Walgreen's on the way to dropping me off at home. My friend then says she is going to covertly buy her mother a card and gift while we are there, it's Mother's Day! Now I'm a little surprised to hear this, I wasn't aware. But one thing is that I do not have any money on me at all, and I'm not about to ask my friend or her Mother to loan me any money.... that isn't even a consideration in my mind. I start to devise a plan on what I'll do when I get home, and hope that I have enough time to make a gift for my Mother. After all I have no money at home, and I doubt I'll have enough time to procure a last minute gift for her, even if I can devise funds and transportation to a store when I get home.
When I'm dropped off, no one is home. However, my adoptive mother has left me a note declaring that it's Mother's Day in case I wasn't aware. If I had been older, I would have read the under currents of this note to realize I was already in trouble, because I simply wasn't there when Mother's Day started. But instead, I start looking for supplies to make a gift for my adoptive mother. I had decided that I would paint wooden plaque with a poem I had started to compose in my mind at Walgreen's. I'm sure I was inspired by all the Hallmark cards in the store. I rummage around in the garage, in the wood scrap pile looking for something suitable. I had envisioned something roughly the size of a sheet of paper, but the wood pile was mostly full of 2"x4" scraps. In the end I settle on a 2"x4" scrap that is about 12" long, and I know I can make it work. It has some rough edges, and I rummage around for sand paper and I sand down the rough edges.
Fruits of labor
Being a creative child, I start drafting out my concept. Using pencil I write the poem, draw where the flowers
A Crappy Piece of Wood
As I double check to make sure that the paint is dried on my plaque, and see if the glue is dried on my card, I hear my parents arrive home. I am really excited at how well my home made gifts have turned out. With not much time, and limited supplies I really feel like I've pulled off something special. I'm excited to give my home-made gift to my adoptive mother.
I come downstairs, find her and ask her to sit down while I go get my gift. I come back down with my card and gift which aren't wrapped, as I really didn't have any time to considering searching for wrapping paper. I had her the card first, then the gift once she is done reading it.
I'm not prepared at all for her reaction, and now as a 44 year old, I'm still shocked by it.
My adoptive Mother goes into a rage and starts yelling at me. I simply respond that I don't understand why she is upset, I have a gift for her. In my naive mind I think the only reason why a parent would be upset would be if you didn't have something to give them. But in this case my adoptive mother starts yelling at me that I "didn't plan" and it's obvious. I try to explain all my labors, but she says to me "I don't want this crappy piece of wood!" "I deserve better!" "I want a store bought gift, not some crap you've tried to make!"
She hits me a few times, and I start crying. I am really shocked by this outburst. She sends me to my room "so you can think about what you've done".
After the fact I wondered what I could have done differently, given that if I did have any money it was change. The other factor was transportation, I had a bicycle, but the nearest store where I could have bought a suitable gift was Walgreen's and it was 1 mile, one-way on a bicycle. I was doomed from the beginning.
Comfort in a closet
The small walk-in closet in my bedroom had long since become the place I went when I needed to find
comfort. I could hide completely in there and not been seen. I often wished so desperately that my mother would come rescue me from these people I was living with. I so desperately wanted her on this day, as I realized that these people who had adopted me really didn't care for, or love me. I felt unwanted and disposable, but unable to verbalize these complex feelings since I was only 10 or 11 at the time. But I knew the way I was being treated was wrong, and I knew that I did deserve better. As a child you don't understand what a closed adoption is, or that your mother has no idea where you are... or that she has been threatened with legal action if she ever tires to find her child in the TPR (termination of parental rights) paperwork she's signed. A chunk of my soul died this day, I would be lying if I said this hadn't left some emotional scars on me. Your first mother has already rejected you, now the 2nd one is rejecting you because of a hand-made gift.
You're making a big deal out of nothing
After this, I was very careful to ensure I had a proper store bought gift and card for my adoptive mother each Mother's day. In fact I never made her another hand made gift again. If I made something in school or at home, it was never given for a holiday... it was just something I brought home.
I made sure that each Mother's day / holiday / occasion going forward, and I took care to mention that it was a store bought gift and card, and inquired if she liked it, or if she wanted to return it. When she would chastise me for acting this way, I would bring up the home-made gift and her reaction to it. She would then tell me I was "making a big deal out of nothing" and to stop mentioning it. But it was a real concern on my part, would she punish me if my store bought gift and card were not to her liking? Would I be rejected again if it wasn't good enough?
As an adopted child, we realize our adoptive families/ homes are not guaranteed. We've already been given up by our first set of parents, what is to stop the 2nd set from doing the same? And now with the new practice of re-homing adoptees by adoptive parents, I have no doubt that my own adoptive mother would have done this to me if she'd been given the chance, I was never what she wanted in a child. I was never good enough for her, ever.