Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Sometimes, mothers wake up grumpy.

Other times, they wake up in a foul mood.

Sometimes they call to their children from bed,
"There's cereal in the cupboard and milk in the fridge.
Don't spill the milk. I don't want to clean up a mess
When I get up. . . . .
 . . . . ..  . . . If I get up."

Sometimes mothers say stuff that makes no sense
Like, "Eat the old fruit before the new fruit."
And, "Shut the door! Were you born in a barn?"
And, "Are your legs broken?"
And, "Someone better be bleeding."

Sometimes mothers embarrass their children.
in front of their friends
by saying something like,
"Bring your jacket, it's going to get chilly."
And, their kids roll their eyes and say, 

And mothers say, "I'm sorry. 
When you get older,
work it out with your therapist
the way we all have to."

Sometimes, life is hard
and, relationships are complicated
because we're human.

Sometimes we mess up
and betray each other
and our best selves.

Sometimes blood isn't thicker than water.

Being a mother is more than biology.

It's a work in progress best accomplished
in spite of biology, or in the absence of it
not perched on a pedestal
but right here,
in the middle of the middle of life
where the rest of humanity dwells
close to tissues to wipe noses a little too hard
and tie sneakers a little too tight
and button sweaters a little too high
and say, "Don't slam the door" a little too loud
and sometimes forget to say, "I love you"
even when they were thinking it
but were busy putting in another load of clothes.

Being a mother is the toughest job you'll ever love.

I suspect even the Mother of God had her days. 
c Elizabeth Kaeton

Friday, May 12, 2017

There is no hate in heaven

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 13th is Birth Mother Day, a worldwide celebration dedicated to the biological mothers of adopted children.

It is always the Saturday before Mother's Day - this year, Sunday, May 14th.

And, according to a note I read, it is one of the most controversial days on the calendar of secular observances.

Yes, controversial. Are you really surprised?

The official line is that, "This holiday was created by birth mothers in Seattle, USA, in 1990... to reflect the choices and to cope with feelings like remorse and grief. However, it is also a day to educate and honor. 

Here’s the way the controversy is explained
“But many mothers who gave up their children have feelings of remorse, and often guilt. Many don't want a special day. And, of those mothers who want to be remembered, they don't necessarily want a special day, aside from Mother's Day. They feel they should remember, and be remembered, on Mother's Day. "

"From the child's perspective, adopted children understandably have a high level of anxiety over this topic. A fair number of them don't want a relationship with their birth mother, adding more controversy to this day."
Are we really surprised that Birth Mothers bear the burden of shame and blame?

Women can’t ever catch a break. If she has an abortion, she’s shamed and reviled as a “murderer”. 

If she places her child for adoption, the adoptive mother and the child she birthed often shun her. 

There is an assumption that if a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy or place her child to be adopted that she is, somehow, deficient as a human being and derelict as a woman.   

How could a human being “kill an innocent child”? How could a woman “give up her own flesh and blood”?

Women who choose not to have children are also considered suspect as decent citizens of the human race. Isn’t that what women’s bodies are made for? Isn’t that against God’s will? 

On the other hand, women who are unable to conceive or bear children are to be pitied. Women who adopt other women’s children, however, are considered heroes. Angels. Super women.  Demi-gods. .

And, the Birth Father? What of him?


It is my observation that this pattern of guilt and shame for women and reproductive health, choice, rights and justice is not only common, it is inextricably tangled into unexamined and unexpressed grief. 

Yes, grief.

The source of grief is sometimes around remorse about the decision. Other times, it’s around not having felt any other real option, or having felt pressured into the decision. 

But mostly, it’s the grief of never really having been allowed to grieve. 

I want to tell you a story about a Hospice patient I had a while back who has since died. She was 94, almost 95 years old. During one visit, she asked if I heard confessions. I assured her that I did but asked if she wanted to talk about it to be sure she had actually committed a “sin” that needed to be confessed.

She took a deep breath and began, “When I was 14 years old, I was raped by my uncle. It was horrible but made worse by the fact that I became pregnant. I was scared. Terrified. I didn’t feel I could tell anyone. I didn't know what to do."

"One day," she continued, "my aunt walked into my room and found me crying. I ended up telling her and she immediately arranged for me to have an abortion. Which was, of course, illegal.”

Her words tumbled out of her mouth in a rush; almost as if she thought that, if she slowed down, she might stop. 

“It wasn’t bad enough that the decision about when and with whom to have sex was taken from me. I also lost the ability to make the decision about whether or not to get pregnant, and, when pregnant to make the decision about whether or not to continue with the pregnancy, place the child for adoption or have an abortion. The decision was not about me or my life, but protecting my uncle and the family from shame. ”

“No one knows about this story,” she continued, “not my mother or my sisters, not my husband or my children. Just my aunt – who took the secret to her grave – and now, you.”

Then, she took a deep breath and blotted the tears that were welling up in her eyes and said, “What I want to know is this: 

"When I get to heaven, as you have assured me I will, will the soul that I aborted hate me?

I looked at this woman who had been carrying around this guilt and shame and grief for eighty years, and with all the love and compassion I had in my heart and said, 

“I know this much to be true: There is no hate in heaven.”

Saturday is Birth Mother’s Day. Sunday is Mother’s Day. Whether you or someone you know has given birth or chosen not to have children; 

          or had an abortion or had a child placed in foster care or placed a child for adoption; 

          or adopted a child or you are a foster mom;

          if your mother is alive and well or ill and infirm or dead and buried; and

          you enjoy a good relationship or your relationship is strained or complicated or alienated

however you observe the day . . . 

…. please, be kind. Please exercise compassion. 

Allow yourself to grieve. 

Create a space where your grief and the grief of others can be honored and respected and expressed.

It’s one way to begin to unhook yourself - and help others disengage - from the grip of shame and blame, remorse and regret which complicate and compound grief. 

I don't believe there is any hate in heaven. 

Neither is there any shame or guilt or remorse.

May it be on earth as it is in heaven.