Mommies Make Mistakes Too

Journal Entry:
May 11, 2018 // 6 something the morning.

Mother’s Day was in a few days, and I reluctantly purchased a gift online for my mom from my boys. I had projected that it was going to be a tough day for me. According to Wikipedia, Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May.

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Mother’s Day // May 8, 1988

“Mother’s Day…a day for celebrating all that a mother is and all that a mother has done and still does for her children…” Ugh! I don’t feel right about being angry at my mother for not being transparent about my adoption, but dammit, I am hurt! Yes, she raised me. Gave me every tool imaginable to be a “Magical Black Girl” and protected me from the world, however… HOWeverHOWEVER, I could argue that I should have been protected from her AND my dad. They now represent everything opposite of what I believe they were:

Dad, Jamar (my “little” brother) and me, in front of church, 1990

Strong now Weak

Confident now Insecure 

Hopeful now Hopeless

God-fearing now Afraid of God 

In my mind, I keep hearing the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. This prayer was recited every Sunday morning by the congregation of Shiloh old site Baptist Church–the church my parents took me and my brothers and every Sunday. Little did I know how much that prayer would have impacted my life now. I wonder as Mom and Dad recited it, what part if any of those words did they not understand?

I wish I could find it in my heart to forgive my mom and dad; however, I’m nowhere near ready. I also don’t think I will be able to wish Mom a Happy Mother’s Day this year. She failed me. My mother told me that she would protect her children–no matter what cost. However, her fears consumed her so much that she couldn’t tell me the truth about my adoption. Unfortunately, mom is getting the brunt of my emotional anger because she is alone. Dad is dead. I’m not protected, and damn it, I’m hurt, and I feel abandoned. Both of my mothers have abandoned me. I feel so damn alone…<<

December 1997

No matter how I was feeling that day, I knew I had to keep pushing and keep on moving for MY children. My little one, Phoenix, had made me something special for Mother’s Day at preschool, and so I had to muster up the strength to and get ready and receive whatever he had made me.  

Getting ready was difficult, very difficult. My mind and heart were dragging. As I placed Phoenix in the car and buckled him into his car seat, he told me that I was the best mom in the whole wide world. And for the first time in my life, I actually felt it because I use to think MY mom was the best mom in the whole wide world, and no one, not even me, could top her!  

Phoenix and I pulled up to his preschool. Excited, Phoenix and the other children served the mothers donuts and coffee in the school’s courtyard and then led us to their classrooms.

May 11, 2018

Phoenix placed a paper crown was on top of my head. The crown read, “Phoenix’s Mommy”. He then presented me with a bouquet that he made in a floral workshop they had at school–so fancy for a preschooler (whatever happened to tissue paper flowers?). I graciously accepted them, looked into his eyes, and gave him the biggest hug. I wanted to tell him all that was happening and all that was on my heart. I couldn’t–not yet, not now. At that very moment, I received a glimpse of what my parents probably went through– deciding when was the “right” time to tell me about my adoption. 


For much of the 20th century, it was common for parents to simply never reveal their adopted children’s origins to them; according to research conducted by Benson Jaffee and David Fanshel, in the 1970s, most parents chose not to tell. Those who did, Baden’s study notes, tended to do so in adolescence or adulthood, as some experts at the time believed it best to wait until an adopted person was old enough to understand the concept of adoption and its implications. My parents were part of that adoption trend. <<

Don’t get me wrong; I do deeply understand why they couldn’t figure out when to tell me. But, to never tell me? That’s what I don’t and will not ever understand.

After my flowers and a few photos with Phoenix, it was time for me to go to work. I hugged him so tight and told him I loved him. He waved goodbye and wished me a great day. As I headed out, Phoenix ran to me and said, “Mommy! You forgot the flowers I made for you!” and handed them to me. I bent down, kissed his forehead, and said, “Oh, Sweetie! I’m sorry. I hope you’re not upset!” Phoenix said, “Don’t worry, Mommy, I’m not mad. Sometimes Mommies make mistakes too!”

He ran back to class as I stood there blank.  Sometimes Mommies mistakes too…

Let’s Talk

> Have your parents ever let you down? If so, how did you manage?

> If you had adopted how would you proceed in telling your child?

> Should I tell my children about my adoption?

3 thoughts on “Mommies Make Mistakes Too

  1. Mommies make mistakes too.
    #1 you are a great mother and some or us will never known what “all” that takes.
    #2 During your mother’s time women just kept secrets. That’s the way it was. (Maybe she felt diminished, ashamed, because she couldn’t make a family for your dad. You looked like him (got his color) and so you showed up for them. Maybe because of you – their love grew. And made the birth of your brothers possible – just saying (?)
    No matter how it all came about
    “She felt shame,
    forget about the blame
    and get in the game.“

    “Remember The Golden Rule”
    Do onto others…

    Look what a wonderful human being you turned out to be!


  2. Sweet boy. 😭 As my mom would say,” Out of the mouths of babe.” It doesn’t make it right, but our parents try to “protect” us from judgement and stigma. Yes, sometimes mommies make mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for another heartfelt and thought-provoking post, Janeen!

    It wouldn’t be fair for me to conjecture how I would or wouldn’t approach telling my child if I had adopted him, but I think I can somehow relate. My son’s birth father is not a good man, and I realized it shortly after my son was intentionally conceived. “L” was not my birth partner, wouldn’t call my son by his name, referring to him as “the child,” and did absolutely nothing to make a true effort to be a part of his life. My son hasn’t seen his “father” since he was two years old. I felt I failed my son. I had so many men to choose from, and I chose a sociopath. I tried to hide the idea of fathers from him to protect him. When reading books to him, I’d replace the word father with “grandpa,” or another family figure that he did have in his life. When he finally was old enough to ask about his “father,” I explained that I wanted to make a family, and he was a handsome, smart man (true) and he was willing to help me make a baby (true), but he wasn’t ready to be a father (true). All true. I hid the part about his physical abuse when I was pregnant, and his utter lack of competence about being a father. A former friend of mine who used to watch him when he was a tot spilled the beans to my son telling him that “L” was a bad man who hurt his mom. He didn’t need to know that–especially at the age he was–maybe 8?

    I guess this is all to say that I understand the urge to protect the innocent child. Perhaps your mom didn’t want you to feel as if you had been rejected–similar to the way that I didn’t want my son to know that his “father” chose not to be a part of his life. And then suddenly, so much time has passed that it doesn’t seem worth bringing it up. I think what Dr. Stradford said about keeping secrets back then was true. I wonder if it was less about shame and more about not wanting you to feel different–that you should have or could have had a different destiny. That you might feel you weren’t really a part of your family.

    A good friend of mine has a different story about why her son’s “father” is not a part of his life. There’s definitely a similarity in that at the end of the day that boy’s father didn’t want to be involved, but my friend still to this day flatly refuses to answer her son’s questions about his birth father. She says “maybe we’ll talk about it one day.” I think her son has stopped asking. He’s 14 now and knows nothing about his birth father or the circumstances he came from.

    So, similar situations, but we’re handling things in very different ways to protect the way we think makes sense.

    Then there’s another person involved–my son’s older half-brother. “E” (same birth father) is 8 years older than my kid. I had been in touch with his mom, so she knew about my son. She didn’t want to get the boys together because doing so would only remind her of the jerk we had in common. When “E” turned 18, I contacted her again and said, she could have a say in how her son learns about my son, or not–it was up to her. I chose to tell my son that he had an older half brother when he was 10, and I hoped they would one day meet. She chose not to tell “E” until he was 18. (The brothers have met and are a part of one another’s lives).

    So many commonalities and an equal number of ways to handle the situation. All the choices each mama has made is what they think is in the best interest of her child. Some might say that not telling a child about a sibling is selfish; others might say it’s selfish for a mama to tell her son about a half brother he may never meet–false hope. It’s not binary–right or wrong–selfish or selfless. It’s super complicated and decisions are made out of love. That said, it’s still your right to be angry or sad or both and everything in between. It’s your life. You are your own human and will make your own choices. Someone told me once that we don’t have to be “perfect” parents, but “good enough.” I think that’s a realistic standard.

    Big love!


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