Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mothers' Day

Tomorrow is my first Mother's Day raising another woman's child.

I thought about her today when I was kissing the Bethie's cheeks, repeatedly, until, annoyed, she pushed me away. But I can't help myself. Her cheeks are so perfectly soft and irresistible that I kiss them fifty? a hundred? times a day. Then I swooped her down and she giggled loudly and I hoped that her mother was able to watch us from heaven. I hoped she could see see how much she is loved. I hoped she could see how I can't stop kissing her.

I've been told that we don't actually look down from heaven on those left behind. That this is a myth we placate ourselves with, comforting, but theologically inaccurate. I've been told that when we do actually go to heaven that the vision of Christ will be so wondrous to behold that any earthly cares will instantly be forgotten and we won't have any desire whatsoever to look back in on the world we left behind.

My limited, human mind can in no way grasp the glory of an encounter with the living Christ. But neither can my mother's heart conceive of no longer caring about how my children are doing, ever.

I think I believe she sees.

Her name was Selam, which means peace.

They said she was compassionate, the one people came to with their troubles. When our daughter points to the bandaid on my finger, furrows her brow, and asks, nodding, and with great concern, "Booboo?" I think I see Selam in her.

They also said she was joyful and loved to laugh. When our daughter dances around the living room, jumping on and off of couch pillows, twirling, laughing, I think I see Selam in her.

As time goes by I will begin to see more of myself in Bethie. The lines of nature and nurture will blur so that we will not know which traits come from her, which came from me, which are uniquely her own.  This is the legacy of a daughter with two mothers.

Our family was created from her tragedy. Our joy was birthed from her pain. And this is not right. It's a sign of a fallen world, a world where mothers die and babies are orphaned and cheeks sometimes go unkissed forever. 

I've never understood how God orchestrates the universe and I don't expect to figure it out now.  I will never know how it came to be that Selam had to die in order for her daughter to call me Mama. Someday this child whose cheeks she never got to kiss will ask me these questions and I will not have the answers.

But tomorrow, on Mother's Day, we will dress our child in traditional Ethiopian clothing and on the altar of a church in Texas, we will dedicate her to the Lord, the Lord we often do not understand. We will promise to raise her to seek his peace when the mysteries of this world elude her.  To seek his wisdom in a world so confusing. To seek his joy in a world so filled with pain. To seek his life in a world so filled with death.

And I pray that Selam can see this. And I pray that it brings her peace.

Children born to another woman call me "Mom". 
The depth of that tragedy and the magnitude of that privilege are not lost on me.



  1. Missy - this totally resonates with me. I nannied for 2 years for girls who lost their mama to PPD. Every day, I wondered why I got to enjoy watching them grow and change and get all their hugs and kisses. At one point in my time with them, I was going through a really rough time with their grandma, who also lived with us. Each day she reduced me to tears with baseless criticisms, and then one night I had a dream of the girl's mom, where she simply hugged me and thanked me for taking care of her girls. It helped me to put things in perspective and just renew my desire to do the best job that I could, for her and for them. They have a new mama now, who will be celebrating her first ever Mother's Day tomorrow. Beauty from ashes, is all I can say. Praise the Lord!

    1. Wow, Hope, that story breaks my heart. I'm so glad you were there to love them!!

    2. I forgot to mention, but I also met my husband as a result of moving to this state to be their nanny. I definitely struggled with feeling guilty about that - how could that be God's plan that I would have my husband and, Lord willing, future children only because she had died. I was really helped by a sermon my pastor did soon before my marriage and that of my widowed boss (we both got married last summer) on Romans 8:28. "We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him..." The "things" that happen aren't necessarily good, sometimes they are horrible and tragic, and unfair, but God can still cause good to come from them.

  2. Missy - This was so beautiful and honoring to Selam. Amazing how your heart can be so connected to an Ethiopian woman that you never even met. Bethie is blessed that the Lord chose you to be her forever mommy. Happy Mother's Day, Missy. You are a mama who is intentional, compassionate, funny, wise, and Christ-focused. What a great example!

  3. I lost my mom two years ago, and while she was sick, she talked about how she was mostly at peace but sad about the things she would miss. I kept telling her that I didn't think she would miss anything but that we would miss her. I am convinced that she can enjoy Heaven and take peeks on us especially on special days. This post is beautiful. Happy Mother's Day! That bracelet is fabulous, by the way :)

  4. I'm so very glad you're cherishing Bethie's roots and honoring and remembering her birth mother as you nurture her and encourage her to flower in this, the family that was waiting for her. She'll surely grow up understanding what love is.

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  6. Happy Mother's Day Missy. What a beautiful post, I'm with you in spirit dedicating your baby girl to the Lord today :) Surely before He made the mountains and the sea He knew you would be kissing those cheeks and thinking of His Selam while you did it.

    *sorry had to edit- I sent you an email but don't feel obligated to read it today!

  7. Beautiful post! My husband and I also dedicated our boys to the Lord this morning! Happy Mother's Day to you!!

  8. I love this, friend. What an honor you have to see redemption up close, to bathe in it everyday and splash some of that healing balm on Bethie's wombs. She has two mothers. I pray she will see someday, through the brokenness and what-ought-not-to-bes that she is doubly loved.

  9. LOVE!

    As a mother of 9 blessings brought to us through many very different situations....from many states and one oher country.....I think about them all the time. With prayer and hopes that someday they will know the eternal hope we have. They are precious in HIS SIGHT :)

  10. just so, so beautiful. thanks for sharing the intimate here. (p.s. i'm blogging again...)

  11. Makes my eyes fill. So touching and I tend to believe it, too.

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  13. Read this with tears streaming. I have been following your blog since for years and am so overjoyed to see that your family is complete. <3

  14. I am pretty sure that my children's first parents can see. Maybe just parents who have to leave children can see.



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