I Almost Forgot to Be a Mom

When I finally felt grown up enough to become a mom I was 44 years old and still single.

I’d spent my youth chasing my dream to be famous and even though I’d had countless adventures and a few brushes with fame the price I paid was putting off getting married and having children. I always envisioned myself as a mother so it was a bit of a shock to take stock at 43 and realize I may be 60 and not have the experience of being a mom.

Since I hadn’t met a man I wanted to share my life with I began exploring my options of being a mom. After checking out artificial insemination from a donor and realizing I could live without the experience of pregnancy I chose to adopt a child from China.

For decades, I’d been deeply involved in personal and spiritual work, so felt confident that I could offer a healthy loving environment to a child. I was at a stage in my life where I had traveled the world, sewed my wild oats and was ready to settle down and be a mom.

I joyfully began the process of endless paperwork, fingerprints, background checks and the scrutiny of my home and lifestyle. After fourteen months of anticipatory waiting while fielding endless judgment from my family thinking I was crazy to be embarking on this journey alone, I received my referral. Three weeks later I was half way across the world meeting my precious daughter, Meigan.

Before arriving, in China, I’d been anxious that my daughter wouldn’t attach. Being a therapist, I’d done my due diligence and understood that she may not come to me and instantly adore me, fulfilling my fantasy. I steeled myself for the fact that she might like my travel partner more than me and had promised myself I wouldn’t take it personally. I was armed and prepared for this initial meeting.

I wasn’t prepared for her to wrap herself around me and never let go. The moment skin met skin it was as if we were one. I couldn’t take a shower without someone holding her up so she could see me. Her desperation met mine, and we both held on for dear life.

Since I’d been so prepared for the other side, I was caught off guard with the intensity of my longing. I remember thinking it felt amazingly wonderful to be so needed. I was the light of my daughter’s eye, and I soaked up every morsel of love that I’d been missing most of my life. I was in heaven and even though I had a nagging thought that I might never work again—because she might never be able to detach—I held on for dear life matching her desperation one breath at a time.

This was the beginning of a journey to learn a new way of being for both of us. I had never married for a reason. Anytime my partner made a wrong move triggering my disappointment; I would hightail it out of Dodge. Well, I had finally met my match in a tiny black haired, brown-eyed wonder. I barred all the escape doors and was determined to provide my daughter with a safe emotional home where she could thrive.

A vault in my heart opened, and over the next seven years I was on a roller coaster ride of feelings moving from joy and delight to tremendous pain and suffering and back again. Her trauma triggered mine, and we found ourselves in treacherous waters clamoring for a safe shore. Due to the overwhelming love I felt for my daughter, I fought to find a way to forge a loving bond while creating a roadmap for others to follow. The fuel for my journey was love, and many times along the way it was threatened by rage, fear, and trepidation.

My daughter fearlessly led the way. She had a determination and fierceness that reflected my own. Since it was just the two of us, the stakes were high. Many times I wanted to run the other way, and yet I stayed. As our connection deepened, the fires of rage exploded, in both of us, seeking solace. It was up to me to find a way through by welcoming the rage with open arms. Oh, how I wanted to flee…. And yet for a split second I would look in her eyes and recognize something deeper emerging. I glimpsed the spark of terror as it arose, and I kept returning over and over to my desire to open, to be safe and to trust that love was more powerful than fear. To this day, I continue to steer our ship toward vulnerable waters where attachment can and does happen.

Today, my daughter is a bright, beautiful, alive 15 year old. She is confident and strong and most of all clear that she is loved and lovable. She is my heart of hearts and through her courage and clarity shows me every day that there are moments when we choose to attach or detach. It is a process, and I’ve learned the more I am willing to connect and work with my fear while returning to the present moment, the more I can connect with the love in my heart. From here I can reach out, trusting in goodness, opening to beauty and grace, continuing to find the courage to stay connected with the truth of the moment!

“A child is a reflection of our brightness coming back for itself. Everything we tried to get away from our child will illuminate, and we can walk away from it or toward it to truly experience who we are: unconditional love.”   Leslie Potter


Photo: creativemarket.com 

Storykeeper: Leslie Potter

Leslie Potter is the founder of Pure Joy Parenting, a joy based parenting model based on her experience raising her daughter as a single mom as well as working with families. She supports parents in moving from a traditional fear-based model to a joy-based one focusing on relationship and healthy attachment. Leslie is a Parent Coach with a background as a body centered therapist. She is also a co-author of Chaos to Connection: 9 Heart Centered Essentials for Parenting your Teen. www.purejoyparenting.com


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