Post Image

Real Moms and the Power of Language


This is a guest post from Jennifer Bibb, a wonderful writer who also happens to be the mother of our two sons.

Dear boys,

My facebook newsfeed has been buzzing with posts about Adoption Awareness Month. It seems like a good time to share with you again about your “real mom”.

The first thing I want you to know is that the words “real mom” have no true power. They are just words.

The second thing I want you to know is that the words “real mom” have profound power and are much, much more than just words.

Here’s what I mean when I say that the words “real mom” have no true power. As I write this, you and I are finishing up Book Four of the Harry Potter series. Remember all the people in Harry Potter who refuse to say the word Voldermort? Harry’s best friends, his teachers, the Ministers of Magic—they all refuse to utter the word. But Harry always says Voldermort’s name. He doesn’t say it to rebel or to appear brave in the eyes of others. On the contrary, Harry seems to be starting from a place of humility, innocence, and quiet confidence. It seems that something deep inside him understands that Voldermort is powerful and dangerous, and yet at the same time knows that his name—the mere word Voldermort—does not have power. More importantly, Harry senses that treating the word like it’s dangerous creates and exacerbates fear, which only serves to give Voldermort more power.

So when someone suggests to you that I’m not your “real mom,” or when you yourselves wonder—as you have in the past—if I’m your “real mom,” my hope and prayer is that you and I will not be afraid of the words. Because if we refuse to be afraid of the words, we free ourselves to discover what those words can teach us. Don’t be afraid, my precious boys. Open up your hearts and your minds. Go with the words “real mom” and see where they take you. They can take you to a deep place where I pray you will find the freedom and courage to explore what and who your “real mom” is and why those words are so powerful.

To this day, a surge of pride and satisfaction fills me up when someone asks me my occupation, and I get to reply “mom”. This, boys, is where the words “real mom” start to pick up steam and take on power.

For me, being your “real mom” means that I get to snuggle with you in bed each night. It means I get to be the one to read Harry Potter to you for the very first time. It means I have the significant responsibility of teaching you about things like faith, respect, responsibility, and the difference between right and wrong. It means I get to witness your tears and offer you comfort. It means I’m the one who nearly passes out from excitement when you score goals at your games. It means I’m the one who cleans up your throw up, who operates the vehicle while you are fighting in the back seat, who tries not to scream when you take turns calling out every potty word you know through peals of laughter over the breakfast table at 6:30 in the morning before I’ve had my coffee. Being your “real mom” means I’m the one who knows you better than anyone else. It means I’m your safe place, your as-close-to-unconditional-love-as-you’re-going-to-get-on-this-earth place. It means feeling protective of you, even when you’re being a punk. It means coming down too hard on you, and then telling you I’m sorry when I realize I’ve made a mistake. Being your “real mom” means loving you so fiercely that I break out into a sweat when I reflect on what a miracle it is that you are even in my life.

But what about those other “real moms”? What about Ms N. and Ms K.? What about those “real moms” who conceived you and carried you inside their bodies for nine long months? What about those “real moms” who gave birth to you and with whom you share blood and genes? How can you know what and who is real when it comes to your mom?

One day when you are old enough, I hope you will watch a movie called A Beautiful Mind. It’s the story of a brilliant man who was very sick. He heard voices and saw things that weren’t there. His mind was full of thoughts and pictures and ideas and bad dreams—sometimes so full that he couldn’t think straight. He would get confused and scared. At one point in the movie, he confesses to his wife that he is scared because he doesn’t know what’s real anymore. His wife crouches close in front of him and lovingly takes his hand and presses it to her face and says, “This is real.” Then she presses his hand to her heart and says “And this is real.”

So, my beloved sons, when you hear the words “real mom,” don’t be afraid. Be humble. Be patient. Be quietly confident. Be thoughtful. Be free. Go deep. Know that being a “real mom” means choosing to commit to giving a child the best you have to offer. It often means choosing self-sacrifice. It means loving someone so much that you frequently choose to put their needs and wants ahead of your own. This is what my love for you is like. And this is the way I will always love you.

But I want you to hear me say that Ms. N. and Ms. K. loved you this way too. You were conceived, carried, and birthed in love by a “real mom.” Your future was planned for by a “real mom.” You were given to, entrusted to, and have been raised in love by a “real mom”.

This, my boys, is what I want you to know about your “real mom.” This is love, in all its glory, messiness, complexity, and beauty. It’s real. It’s powerful. It is your story, and it is mine.

I love you both with all my heart.