Anonymous asked: In your post about traveling & your family, you refer to your mother as your "birth mother" and I was just wondering why? Is it because she died when you were young and you never really knew her as anything other than your birth mom? Or was there some sort of early estrangement that leads you to refer to her in a semi detached manner? I think both the woman that birthed you and the fearless, independant woman you grew up with can be your mom! Unless, you feel otehrwise! Just curious (and nosy).
Good question. That’s what we’ve always called her. I was only two and a half when she died, so while she was my everything, my primary caretaker, and by all accounts, a superb and doting mom — I’ve never known her. I would feel weird calling her simply ‘my mom’ — in fact, I always did. (When I was around five I would say, “I don’t have a mom,” and Dad would have to remind me, “You do, but she died.”)
And as for the woman my dad married — I call her ‘my mom’ as shorthand with people I don’t know well but I have always called her Shelley within my family and friends. It would feel weird to call her Mom to her face. Really weird.
Here’s the thing though. She’s IS my mom. Legally — as well as in every other way except the biological (though people occasionally say we look alike, which is amusing). She adopted me when I was 15 (though they married when I was 9 I didn’t ‘let her’ adopt me until then — it was too much, I guess, and I needed to mature until I could get to that point of acceptance).
When you are adopted, you get a brand-new Certificate of Live Birth. It makes no mention of adoption. It says that Shelley was my mother at the time of my birth (living it up in Santa Barbara while I was gettin’ born in Germany, a miracle of science!). Denise is not mentioned. (Strange, right?)
I’m sure that other people would feel comfortable calling Shelley Mom to her face, or having ‘two moms,’ one dead, one living, but I just don’t. ‘Birth-mom,’ to me, is accurate and respectful to both women. But perhaps it is a form of detachment. I suppose they’re not mutually exclusive.
PS: It’s worth noting that my dad calls Shelley “your mother/mom” to me, and that I usually call her mom when referring to her with my sister. That wasn’t always the case, though. I remember when she was little she once asked why I called her Shelley. Where to begin, sweet Gena…?
It took Shelley a long time to find the right man. I’m thankful that Mark was so persistent.
Grandma Su, in a recent email to me.
Me too, Grandma.