Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Celebration of Mothers - Sharla Kostelyk

I am so excited to have Sharla of "The Chaos and the Clutter" provide my guest post today! Sharla writes a wonderful blog about all the excitement that happens to a homeschooling mom of seven children!  She gives great insight into homeschooling, parenting, writing, and adoption, and I'm delighted she found time to share with us here on "Since You Asked".  Sharla and her husband have two biological children, three children adopted through foster care, and two children adopted from Ethiopia.  She started Adoption Magazine in 2011, and is the author of two books: That These Two Will Live, and Shield: A Framework of Self-Care for Foster and Adoptive Families.  Honestly?  I have no idea how she does it all!  I hope you enjoy Sharla's writing and words of wisdom as much as I do!  Thank you so much Sharla, for joining us here today!

SUCH a beautiful family!

“Motherhood” is a word whose meaning has changed for me over the years.  I used to have a very narrow definition of the word, but now, having been blessed with two children by birth and five through adoption, my heart has been opened to all that the word can mean. 

I am mom, mommy, and momma.  I am the mom who got up at night with them when they were babies, the mom who cares for them when they are sick, the mom who cries with them and for them, the mom who cheers them on and delights in their victories, the mom who advocates for them, the mom who reads to them and plays with them, the mom who stays up far too late the night before their parties decorating their cakes, the mom who teaches them, the mom who knows them...each one of them, the mom who disciplines them, the mom who holds them and rocks them and kisses away their tears, the mom who prays with them and prays for them and teaches them about a Father who loves them more than even I do, the mom who encourages them and inspires them, the mom who worries about them, the mom who has the privilege of watching them grow and seeing who they will become, the mom who gets to be there every day, witnessing a life.  What an incredible honor! 

But five of them have other moms.  In the beginning, I will admit that I didn’t see them that way.  I thought that since I was the one parenting them, I was the “real” mom, but slowly, my eyes and heart were open to the truth.  My children are a part of their other moms.  They would not be who they are without both of us.  And that is the truth of it.  We are both their mothers.  And I am the lucky one.  I am the one who gets to be there.   What their other moms wouldn’t give to be able to be the ones to see these precious little lives unfolding! 

Some days, the weight of it burdens me.  I can start to think that I need to be the perfect mom because I have this exceptional privilege, because their other moms in some way entrusted me to raise their children.  That is a standard I simply cannot live up to.  But I try to remember that perfect is impossible and that I can only do my best.

Now, my definition of “motherhood” includes the mothers who are not raising their children.  For some, that was a choice made out of love for their child, for others, a choice based on necessity, and still others, not a choice at all, having their child removed from their care for a variety of reasons that seem to include things like addiction, mental illness, homelessness, or having no parenting model themselves.  My definition also includes grandmas raising their grandchildren, foster moms raising children temporarily or forever, mothers with empty arms who have lost children to miscarriage or stillbirth, and of course, mothers who are not yet mothers, those who are waiting to become mothers, whether those waiting on a much wished-for pregnancy or those in the long wait to adopt.  They are all mothers.  And thankfully, so am I.

"In Celebration of Mothers" is a weekly series about, well, motherhood.  Do you have a story you'd like to share about your own experiences as a mom or someone else's?  Be sure to contact me at dhsticklen(at)gmail(dot)com.

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