Kids can have more than one mom and one dad, more than one family. And one of Gary's moms is me.
About a week ago Gary was talking to me his MMA classes and how much one instructor means to him. He, the instructor, also worked at the group home. He has been part of Gary's life for longer than I have. Gary said that he almost seemed like his father. Then he was a bit uncomfortable and said, "You know that I really like you guys, and I am glad about the adoption and all. I just don't feel that way about you."
I nodded and said I understood, but part of me wanted to say, "This is what my being your mother feels like." I didn't though. Gary needs to classify us as "the people who are adopting him but aren't really his parents," and that is okay with me. I think about David's journey, about how he only seemed to able to let himself get emotionally close after he moved out. I think about how the adoption is resulting in both David and Evan calling and dropping by more often. I think about the various ways that I have felt about my mother over the years and well...
...I feel like he has accepted me as his real mother.
I feel affirmed as his mother every time he interrupts my reading to talk about school, or what career path he is considering this week, or what he wants to do this summer. He no longer asks me if I have time to talk to him, he just says something like, "Yondalla, I think this summer I want to..." He knows I will put down my book and give him my attention. He re-tells me the same thing, goes over the same ground, and I remember doing the same thing to my mother and how she always just sat down and listened. She often didn't say much, but she would listen until I ran out of air, no matter how many times I wanted to talk about the same thing. So I sit there, and listen, and smile at how confident he has become. He knows I'm interested. I'm his mom.
I feel affirmed as his mother every time he asks me, without advance planning, if I will take him to or from his girlfriend's house. As it is almost 25 minutes each way, this is no small task. If I complain about the distance he says, "Well, if I had a driver's license you wouldn't have to be driving me around all the time."
I feel affirmed as his mother when he almost rolls his eyes and says, "I KNOW I told you about the choir concert tonight. Like a week ago! I have to be there at 6, but you don't have to until 6:30." Of course we want to hear him sing. We are his parents.
I feel affirmed when instead of doing whatever I ask him to do he sometimes says, "I did it last time! It's BRIAN's turn."
I know this might all seem strange because it may seem like I am happy when I am being taken advantage of. It's not like that. He is not an insensitive or selfish person. He is responsible, considerate, and kind. When he moved in he was always responsible, considerate and kind. When he moved in he acted like a guest who might out stay his welcome.
I even feel like his mom when he tells people that I am not like a real mom because I let him "do whatever I wants." I interject that it only seems that way because everything he wants to do is within the rules, but he insists, it's different. I'm not always on his case about everything. I'm not authoritarian like that. "You're just ... you know ... you. If I did something that you didn't like would you ground me for a week?"
"No. I would probably just talk to you about what happened. I expect that you would have had a good reason for whatever happened."
"SEE? You don't treat me like a little kid. It's almost like we're roommates. Well, not really, but you know."
"We let you make a lot of your own decisions."
"Exactly." He smiles, having proved his point. I don't act the way he pictures real mother acting, but he likes me.
On the other hand, I am acting the way I act as a mother, and he accepts it with a confidence that he didn't used to have. He knows he belongs. He knows he can count on us.
And all of this coalesced for me last week when he said, "Okay, you're going to be happy about this. I've decided that in this economy I'm not going to be able to move out when I wanted. So I'm going to go to the charter school all year next year and graduate in the spring. You get to keep me a whole year."
And when I jumped up to hug him and tell him how thrilled I was, he smiled, rolled his eyes and said, "I knew you would act like that."