by Janine Salas-Mason
It’s usually late evening when I can actually turn on my computer. It’s part of a ritual that initiates my nightly turndown service. Checking that doors are locked, all children are bed and hubby is either sleeping or has the remote in hand and that bag of Oreos and milk he asked me for. Only then, I get to turn on my computer and indulge in my secret pleasure, my writing. Through my writing, I affirm my purpose to myself every day. I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend and even if only acknowledged by me, … a writer.
We all know that to a mother, your children are your babies no matter how old they get. Meghan, my oldest baby is 12 years old and my first shot at parenthood. I didn’t know it then but she would be my longest labor and the first of five children. Meghan is a pure joy and a preteen, which leaves me as much in awe as it does confusion. Meghan does not know just how special she is to me. She is my first baby.
Four years after having Meghan we had Elias, my little brown bear. Yes, I affectionately call him that. And six months after that, I was pregnant with Madison,… the last baby, or so I thought. Elias and Madison are six months apart, it’s almost like having twins. Elias loves his baby sister and Madison, she can’t get enough of Elias. They are inseparable and I ‘m very lucky for that.
So I have a great husband, three beautiful children, my own home etc, what more could I want right? Well, my husband, who was adopted at 6 months of age, has discovered his desire to know his own birth family. Amongst the other hats I wear, I now become a private detective find his entire birth family. My husband decides that he would like to give back to society that which was given to him decides we should adopt. Now, I think most of us at one point or another say to ourselves, “if I ever hit the lotto, I would adopt some children etc.” Well, in my family this became a reality. No we didn’t hit lotto, but we did adopt a child. And so Josef, at 2 years old, became part of our family. Josef, is a special needs child. The agency thought he was mute. He wasn’t. He was suffering neglect and had decided he was not ready to speak yet. Josef will always be my special baby. Not because of his special needs, just because he is especially loved. He took my motherly love to a new level, to a place aside of myself …outside of my skin and into my heart.
A week into Josef’s arrival I got a life changing phone call. It was the adoption agency explaining that Josef now had a baby brother and they would like to place the 3-month-old baby with us to keep the siblings together. The agency worker said she knew it was a tall order but wanted to “plant the seed” and see if there was any chance of us taking in Josef’s baby brother. Planting a seed was an understatement! I was torn to pieces. I knew it was probably a long shot, but I longed for the baby already and I brought the situation up to my husband. My husband took the weekend to think about it and when he was ready he started by saying, “I think sometimes, our hearts are bigger than our pockets.” My heart sunk, but then he said, “ I have just met my siblings now at 33 years old. I wish I had memories of childhood years with them…” And so it was, that a week after meeting my 2 year old son Josef, I met Ryan, …and baby made five.
Ryan had pneumonia when he was placed with us and I spent the next week living in the hospital. I learned to juggle the needs of my new babies and the babies I already had. I learned children could adapt, that they are as giving as we teach them to be. I learned a lot. I learned all this while trying to still meet the needs of my husband, who could prove to be the biggest baby of all at times. (God Bless his soul, a term I use instead of cursing, sometimes!) I learned of my husbands’ affair, and I learned it wasn’t the end of the world even though it felt like it. (That’s a whole other story!)
So, at the end of the day, after the homework is done, uniforms are washed, and I have finished giving 10 speeches as to why..why and why,… my evening ritual begins. After turning my husband on and my children off. I am thankful, thankful for my 5 beautiful babies. The ones I gave birth to and the ones God has entrusted to me through adoption. Thankful that it does not make a difference to me which babies I have birthed and which ones I haven’t. Thankful, that I can write and plant a seed.