First Mother’s Day
by Beth Kozan
Mommy, what was it like the day I was born? Oh, little one, the sun was shining and oleanders were in bloom. The world was crisp and new.
Mommy, what was it like on the day they told you I would never be normal? The clouds gathered, little one, and blocked the sun from my tear-filled eyes. For a while, I thought the sun would never shine again.
El Paso, Texas. Mother’s Day. A newborn baby still in the hospital. The New Daddy was determined to not be like other daddies – anxious and worried – so he took the car and went to Juarez with friends. Defiant, The New Mother walked a shortcut through the scrub desert, down the steep sides of a sandy arroyo and up the other side, to stand on the veranda of the Army hospital and peer through the nursery window at the tiny baby girl. The New Mother’s arms ached to hold the baby she had not yet touched – if you don’t count with all her insides when she was still pregnant.
How strange it must have been to be on the inside of the hospital, looking out at this chubby woman, dressed in a tent dress, her only clothes that fit. It might have made someone uncomfortable to see the tears rolling down the cheeks of The New Mother, but no one offered a word of comfort or solace or advice. The New Mother peered in at the baby, sleeping with an IV needle in her freshly-shaved scalp, the needle pumping in medication to control seizures that started shortly after delivery. Whenever the baby moved a smidge, The New Mother tilted her head, like any new parent, to glimpse a nose, an ear, and identify whose looks the baby had inherited.
An hour was all the time allotted to The New Mother to observe her child on this Mother’s Day. Then, it was home again, through the sand, with grit accumulating between her toes in the pink, open-toed sandals that matched the tent dress.
Such emptiness. Such utter loneliness. The New Mother wailed her misery. She cried in anger and frustration. “IT’S NOT FAIR!” In self-loathing, The New Mother pulled scissors from her sewing kit. What would she do? Without looking in the mirror, she cocked her head sideways and whacked off her shoulder-length hair below her ears. More wails. Now what had she done!
A knock came at the door – the door with the ill-fitting frame inside the 18-inch-thick adobe walls, where the wind let in the sand. The door made a scraping sound as The New Mother opened the door. There stood a wizened Old Crone – the only words to describe this hunched-over dark woman with a shawl over her head and shoulders – who spoke not a word of English, but consoled The New Mother in soft Spanish. The New Mother was at last soothed and relieved. Closing the door, saying adios to the only person who came forth to say she cared on this, her First Mother’s Day.
Beth Kozan is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Helping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.