"Memory Givers"

As parents, we shape the memories our children will carry through their lives. What a delightful, and intimidating, prospect!

Praying While Waiting for Adoption

I’ve done a weird thing. I got on iTunes and bought Hymns: The Ultimate Collection. Buying music was not the weird part—my husband, Brian, and I may one day have to mortgage our home to pay the iTunes bill. My selection was the weird part. I’m not the sort of girl who listens to hymns around the house.

The day it all went down, it was 18 degrees and sleeting. Brian and I had argued the night before, so when I woke up, my outlook was sullied by emotional residue and the horrid weather I could see outside.

Mid-morning, my mother called me at work. She casually mentioned that she had seen the sweetest family at the park, Caucasian grandparents and parents with an Asian child.

“It was so nice to see them all together.” She paused, then added, “The little boy was so handsome and so loving with his mommy and daddy.”

This let me know that my mom was starting to identify with interracial families. I knew it also meant she was worrying. My mother is a worrier by nature, and I’ve learned that her seemingly offhand comments often mask concerns. I reviewed the conversation in my mind after we hung up. She had specifically mentioned the child loving his parents, so I figured that my mom was worried about our son attaching to Brian and me.

It’s one of my greatest fears, too. During our interminable wait, I’ve been reading everything I can find on bonding and attachment in adoption. I worry that our son won’t love us, that we won’t be able to make him laugh. And my fear is so big and so real, I’m scared to tell even Brian how I feel.

So, on that wintry day, I started praying like a madman. Do you know the kind of ineffectual meditation I mean? When prayers tumble in your mind? “God, please, so scared. Brian. Baby. Me-Bad-Mommy. Help.”

Suddenly, a memory popped into my mind: I am five years old, and my sister and I are playing house under the breakfast table; my mother, washing dishes and singing hymns in her cheerful soprano.

As parents, we have no idea, beyond the obvious, what will heal or hurt our children. If I asked my mom, “Hey, do you remember washing dishes and singing ‘How Great Thou Art’ one morning when I was about five?” I wouldn’t expect her to say yes. Yet that memory was what soothed me that day. In fact, that’s how I sometimes think of parents: memory givers. This is both a delicious prospect and an intimidating thought.

As I write this, I click to the “Hymns” playlist on my iPod. I haven’t heard these songs in years, but they will always remind me of love, because my parents and grandparents sang them to me during my happy childhood. I will not be my son’s only mom, I probably won’t be a perfect mom, and I know I won’t get to determine which moments will root themselves in his memory. But Brian and I can provide him with a peaceful home and unconditional love, laying a foundation for happy memories, whatever they may be.

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