This Mother

Before I was a mother I have always been a writer. Although I primarily write in other genres, over the years I've published a large number of feature articles, personal essays and penned columns in a variety of magazines on the topic of motherhood. I was asked to write about my most important role, and about what mattered most to me. However my stories are less about my children and more about the path I have traveled as a mother.

With my husband I raised three children, who are now grown. Two of our kids were adopted from Korea, a one-year old with special medical needs, and an older child adopted at age ten. We waded into uncharted territory, as not only were two of our children adopted transracially (I'm American Indian and my husband is white), but we adopted an older child changing the birth order within our family. We had a birth daughter who became our 'middle child.' And shortly after we adopted our oldest daughter, our 7-year old son (also adopted from Korea) was diagnosed with a brain tumor--an event that changed all of our lives and taught us to let go of expectations and to forge a new identity. 

I believe the single most significant thing we’ve done is the comment to racial and cultural diversity my husband and I made early on in our relationship. The moment we decided to become parents we began working towards building the kind of multiracial lifestyle we wanted our children to be surrounded with. This along with the prep work and preparing we began the moment we realized that it wasn’t going to be easy. 

My husband remembers how uncomfortable he felt when he first met me and found himself the only white man among American Indians. I spent my growing up years in a mixed race area of Los Angeles, and my husband had grown up in an all-white community. Blending our lives allowed us to realize we each needed to give ourselves the opportunity to be in frequent situations where we would be in the minority race and culture. 

This is not a blog in the usual gist. Instead, I've reprinted a few of my previously published articles. When I began assembling a collection of my stories to include here, I found that each one begged for revision. A number of my feature articles were too magazine-y in tone and needed to be reshaped into memoir. Others, when further examined with my poet’s eye, had become too pretentious after being culled by careful editors and gave off the full-bodied notion that as a mother I had things all figured out, which of course I don’t. 

Next I contemplated my gloomy stories. Although my memoir Pushing up the Sky, and some of my feature articles are best known and remembered for my saddest story, I didn't remain there. However, my happily-ever-after stories have received less press. Reprint requests are frequently the stories about the difficulties I've experienced. This is good because maybe it will help others walking a rocky journey. I can lend faith, like a rope tied from the house to the barn in a blizzard. 

Today as a mother my life in no way resembles what I had hoped for, or expected it to be, and yet I can honestly tell you I deeply value and am thankful for where this journey has led me.  And now that my kids are grown I enjoy seeing how my perspective has evolved and changed over the past three decades. 

My special thanks to the editors where these pieces originally appeared.