Mother’s Day

15 05 2013

I have always known that my chances of having a child are slim. While I believe that I am physically capable, I could never really picture myself in that role. Babies terrify me, for starters. And although I am fascinated by the miracle of pregnancy, and would actually LOVE to have that experience of carrying another life inside my body, I would rather hand the babe over to a partner until it is old enough to be potty trained, carry on short conversations, and run around with me. That’s what makes me a perfect “Auntie.”

With my first marriage, this was always something that was unresolved. We talked at great length about our theoretical children, and the things we would do differently if we had our own little people to mold. My husband wanted kids, but not bad enough to make an issue our of it. I kept stalling until we felt financially stable enough, and made him agree to take on the primary parental role until age three. Of course, our own moms were anxious to see us finally give them each a grand-baby, since we had been together for almost 15 years by that point. As I started approaching age 30, I realized that the countdown had begun. Age 35 is when risks start to noticeably increase for things like Downs Syndrome, and who knew whether or not we were very fertile.

My life changed dramatically right before I hit that decade trifecta. Just six months before my 30th birthday, I met my current spouse, my wife, and realized that I was gay. My high school sweetheart and I decided to get divorced, and my mother’s dreams of an accidental grandchild were flushed away. I honestly think she was more devastated at her loss of a grandchild than she was at my coming out.

This pretty much sealed the deal. My wife has no interest in having children, we can’t really afford to adopt, and I’m still not interested in babies. So, I was pretty sure that I would never experience Mother’s Day as anything other than an opportunity to thank my own mom for her love and support, and to cheer on my friends who are changing our society, one little person at a time. This year, however, was different.

Last week, our teenage Thai exchange student made me suspicious. He’s very independent, but he was more than aloof one afternoon. Bethany had a meeting to go to, so I told Bank that he and I would go out to dinner together, just the two of us. At first he said okay, but then when I told him we were going to Ann Arbor, he said he wasn’t interested and had too much homework to do. He happened to have stayed home from school that day because his sinuses kept him up all night and he was too exhausted to go. Since he’s a straight A student, we let him listen to his body and stay home. But, I asked him why he didn’t have time to do his homework during the day, so that he could come out to dinner with me. He made up excuses about new homework, and I let it go.

Without his company, I stayed home and just ate leftovers. It was a warm day and I was sitting outside at the patio table when he came out to ask for permission to walk to Faye’s house. He was supposed to meet another Thai student, and I knew the host family, so I said okay. It made me wonder, however, why he suddenly had an interest in going out when just an hour ago he felt too busy to go out with me. I decided to call in ‘back up.’ I texted Bethany and asked her to check in with Lori and Elizabeth to be sure that this was where Bank was going.

His story checked out, and I felt a twinge of guilt for being suspicious of his intentions. He and Faye met up to go to the Thai restaurant together. “I wish that he had just told me the truth originally,” I thought. But Thai culture makes it very hard to say no to others, so I understood that this was not really lying.

Saturday night before Mother’s Day, we were making plans to get up early in the morning to drive to Ohio. Bank casually asked me what time I would get up, and I responded, “Oh, I dunno. I only need 15 minutes to get ready, but I’ll probably wake up earlier.” He pressed me for a time, and I had none. I thought it was odd that he was so interested. I shrugged it off, we said goodnight, and then we all went to bed.

Bethany and I watched a show on the computer before brushing our teeth. I realized I had forgotten something downstairs, and walked back down into the dining room. There on the dark, mahogany table was a vase full of pink roses, with two envelopes in front. He had written each of us a Mother’s Day card and labeled them with our names written in Thai. He drew on the front, an elaborate decoration of the Thai flag and U.S. flag intertwining. He put them out early to be sure that they would be there when I got up early the next morning. It was so sweet, and I was so touched by the gesture, that when I returned upstairs Bethany immediately asked me what was wrong. I told her about our surprise, but that we should wait until the morning to open the cards.mothers day

Bank and Faye had been sneaking around to surprise us four moms for Mother’s Day. I was absolutely floored!

We had had conversations earlier about what Mother’s Day means in the U.S. I explained how I celebrated it differently when I was younger, and we would make breakfast in bed and homemade cards for my mom. As I got older, it became a day of service, where I would go back home to help my mom plant flowers or work on other projects. Now, it’s more of a promise to go out to spend time with her sometime in the weekends surrounding the day proper.

mother day bethanyIn Thailand, Mother’s Day is different. The day is the dame date every year, because it is celebrated on the Queen’s birthday. Everyone wears blue in honor of the Queen, but they also pay respect to their own mothers. When we got up early Sunday morning together to leave for Ohio, Bank was wearing bright blue jeans and a blue sweatshirt in honor of Mother’s Day, and I smiled.

It may be the only Mother’s Day that I ever get to celebrate from the receiving end, but it was the best Mother’s Day I’ve ever known. This year has been a true gift, and Bank will always be our Thai son.

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