My friends from my church mom’s group threw me a baby shower last weekend and it was so lovely. The night before the shower, I was thinking about how monumental it was, actually, to be having a baby shower thrown for me. I have the kids already, yes, and they are wonderful, but I also have the community who knew how special it would be to celebrate me as a mother as well as celebrate Noah’s arrival into the world and into our family. I am so grateful to have a community here in Houston that has walked with me through the disappointment and anticipation and absolute rejoicing of our adoption story post-Maya. Let me tell you a little more.
I didn’t join my church mom’s group until Maya was almost a year old. We joined our church probably a week or two before Maya arrived. We were looking for a church in our new home and decided to go “church shopping,” so to speak. We were going to go to a few churches in a few Sundays and see if any of them really felt like a church home to us. The first Sunday we made it all of 6 blocks from our house to the Houston Vineyard (there are Vineyard churches around the world, and several around Houston). And there we stayed. I’m not sure they knew what to make of us when we showed up just a few weeks later with a newborn that we definitely didn’t have the week before!
But they embraced us; the pastor and his wife warmly welcomed us and have been with us through several of the steps of our adoption stories, including Maya’s adoption celebration and when we had Baby J at home for a few months. We sit behind them (because we’re the weirdos who love to sit up front – I hate having to stare at the back of someone’s head during worship!) and Donna, our pastor’s wife, often holds Maya while our little one sways along to the music.
Our church is bilingual, offering worship in both English and Spanish, and offering the message translated by earphones into Spanish in real time. Before we had Maya, I wasn’t convinced I liked the double worship. It sort of annoyed me because I was too focused on the translation and remembering proper pronunciation.
And then Maya arrived in our life and we brought her to church, and the worship leaders sang her song, and we knew that Maya’s mother tongue was at least half Spanish, and of course then it was perfect that it was bilingual. Over the last two years, I’ve become ever more thankful that our church is welcoming of immigrants and embracing of those in the Hispanic community. It has felt like a really nice alternative to what you read in the news on a daily basis.
So back to my mom’s group. I didn’t join a mom’s group for ages because I was nervous. There was a very small piece of me that felt like a fraud because I didn’t give birth to my daughter. I wasn’t sure I wanted to explain over and over that I wasn’t Maya’s mom by birth, and for most of the spring of the first year we were here, we were in the thick of foster care madness on a daily basis. And I knew that whole deal was just a little difficult to explain. Little did I know that my mom’s group would include several adoptive and foster moms who knew well that level of crazy.
I also had some preconceived notions about what a Texas church mom’s group might be like, even though our church is pretty much the antithesis of what most people would think about a Texas evangelical (technically, I think?) church. Our church is progressive and inclusive and bilingual, for crying out loud. And I needn’t have been worried or nervous (that everyone would be perfect and blonde and monogrammed – yes, those were my stereotypes of Texas church ladies), because when I finally got up the guts to go to my first mom’s group, it was exactly what I needed that day and every Friday following. We’ve all joked that it’s like free therapy with free childcare. We chat and we vent and we laugh so hard, all while the sweet nursery workers mind our kids. It’s a highlight of my week. Top 3, for sure.
So when my friend Michelle asked if she could throw a shower for me, I was overwhelmed with gratitude – not only for her and her hospitality and generosity and friendship, but also for my mom’s group, my community over the last year. I remembered the mornings I explained the latest craziness of the latest phone call we’d gotten from our agency. I brought Baby J (number 2) with me one morning, and then never again. We cried and prayed together for every foster babe and every possible new addition to our family – and with every disappointment, and they all shared my excitement with each and every new development, no matter how tenuous. I remember the day I admitted that Michael and I were going to counseling to try to decide whether to stay in Houston and try to adopt again, or return to Ireland. They knew I was struggling to hold it together, and they surrounded me with motherly love and prayer.
When we found out Noah was arriving, and arriving early, I posted in our Facebook group and felt their excitement right along with me, every step of the way from Dublin back to Houston and to Noah in my arms. I realized the other day that my mom’s group has actually seen what my family has been through in the last few years first hand, they’ve walked with us through this rollercoaster season, and I was so touched when they wanted to rejoice and celebrate Noah joining our family.
Our family and friends in Ireland and Maine have been incredibly supportive in this adventure, but they’ve gotten the filtered and processed version from us after the fact. I actually think my mom’s group might know and feel what we’ve been through more acutely. By sheer regularity of our Friday gatherings, they’ve followed and shared every up and down and every excitement and disappointment, and I’m not sure you could really understand what the past two years have been like without looking at my face and hearing my voice break as I process this wild ride.
On Sunday afternoon, we had such a sweet little celebration of Noah joining our family, but for me it felt like a rite of passage I got a belated chance at experiencing. There are things I have let go of when it comes to being a mom, like pregnancy and breastfeeding, and I thought I had let go of the idea of having a baby shower because our babies have arrived in very surprise fashion. I don’t mind having let those things go, because I know our family was formed exactly the way it was supposed to be, but it sure was nice to be showered by my friends last week.
Thanks, ladies, for your friendship and for a lovely celebration on Sunday!
A few photos, including one of Noah who has definitely grown out of that little outfit he wore home from the hospital!
Michelle wanted to include some things at the shower that would remind me of Ireland, and this stout cake was so yummy! We ate it for days afterward. Candids taken by Michelle – I actually bought my dress before we moved here, thinking one day I might wear it to a baby shower. And I finally did! Tassels! 🙂 Michelle’s house is a mid-century modern dream. All very serious apparently! And more sweet Noah, the star of the show (in his little high-water sweater outfit 😉