As an adoptive mother I often hear the term "real mom". As in, "What does Jacob's real mom look like?" "Is Emma's real mom tall?" and so on. I usually just respond with a smile and describe myself in detail. We love the birth mothers of our children. They gave our children life and beautiful healthy bodies, and lovingly placed them in our family, trusting that we would give these children all that they needed. And when they did that, they made us a "real" family--something that doesn't require the sharing of DNA.
The Velveteen Rabbit is a lovely children's story about a plush rabbit who becomes real, not by how he was made, but by the fact that he was loved.
The Real Women Don't Pump Gas (etc.) book has a chapter on Real Moms, including the following wisdom:
- Real Moms do volunteer work.
- Real Moms wear corsages.
- Real Moms believe in nepotism.
- Real Moms have ESP and know when their children are in trouble.
- Real Moms like the suburbs. They decorate their homes for the holidays.
- Real Moms wear earrings during the day.
- A Real Mom will go through the trash when a kid announces that he thinks he threw his bite plate in the wastepaper basket.
- Real Moms are never allergic to anything their children like. A real Real Mom will live with a cat that makes her sneeze for ten years. But if anyone suggests that her new, prized, expensive sectional sofa could make one of her children tear up for an instant, it would be on its way to Goodwill within the hour.
And Erma Bombeck, who was an adoptive mother, made her own list of what is "real":
- Real is what gets a part-time job to pay for a baton that lights up.
- Real is what hears, "I hate you" and still says "No".
- Real is what sits up until 3 AM when she has the car out and its raining.
- Real is hurting when she's in pain and laughing when she's happy.
- Real is emergency rooms, PTA's, music that deafens, lies, defiance, and slammed doors.
- Real is what shows up every day!
I was thinking about Erma Bombeck today when I had my own "real" moment to add to the list. For me this morning, "real" was running 1/2 mile to and from the elementary school on a day that threatened rain, wearing a purple and black outfit with feet crammed into too-tight, high-heeled sandals and toting a video camera, tripod, and various props so that I could be my son's magic assistant during his kindergarten talent show. It was awesome!
Not only was it a reassuring neuro test (kept my balance, remembered where to go and what my name was at the sign-in desk, remembered how to set up the tripod and the camera, and even remembered the magic tricks) but it was a REAL-ly precious moment to see my son be a gentleman in the audience while the other children performed, and then to help him do his charming act onstage. He pushed a coin through a handkerchief, turned a dollar bill upside-down with a folding trick, and pulled three flower boxes out of an empty paper sack. (Much thanks to his real Grandpa Ralston and his real Uncle Mike, who both taught him those tricks.)
The cancer glasses have the great ability to help sort out what is real and what is not, and it makes those real moments very precious. This morning's entertainment was hardly a Tony award-winning stage experience. But it was real. The expression on my son's face when he saw me walk in was very real and very precious.
I hope I will be there to walk in for many more real moments in his life.