Mothers, Precious and Misunderstood: The Many Mothers I Have Met

I am reminded of mothers as their day to be honored approaches. Yes, I think about my mother, who is 93. She is quite elderly and in need of protection in all her frailty in a nursing home, just 3 minutes from my home. I recollect our long relationship and understand its limitations. My role now is to make her safe and comfortable, and to forgive her.

As a pediatrician, I have met thousands of mothers. Abroad, working with my foundation, Worldwide Orphans, I have met countless poor mothers, and always hoped that their sweetness would be rewarded with the kindness and support they needed to be able to love their children and not be forced to give them up.

As an adoption doctor working with families adopting in the U.S., I am especially reminded this weekend of how lonely and desperate birth mothers end up being at the moment their babies are born. I work hard to help parents befriend their birth mother as they make their way through this very painful adoption plan. I dare to request that the adoptive parents search for her goodness and thoughts, to transfer this to the child they adopt. The judgments made of birth mothers are cruel and callous for sure. Many birth mothers are using drugs, drinking and self-medicating with medications, and adoptive parents are anxious about the future of their child so they bypass the relationship with the birth mother. But how can we bypass such a precious, formative relationship?

I am a mother of two teenage sons, and I wonder about my own worth on this day. I am often not so eager to celebrate it. It seems false in so many ways. I don't ask my children for cards or flowers... on any occasion actually. I just want to be with them, because it is another day closer to when they will be gone and on their own. Only a few short years left of me insisting on them showering and brushing their teeth. I will take anything I can get just to be near their smelly bodies and to listen to their wildly illogical opinions. I will be quiet when I would like to scream because one or both is not doing what I think they should.

I pray that I can be just distant enough yet close enough for them to feel my undying devotion until my last breath on this planet earth. How lucky are we who live and intimately associate with our kids, while so many mothers have lost their children -- or never had them at all -- for whatever crazy reasons in an irrational, chaotic, and unjust world?


Dr. Jane Aronson is CEO & President, Worldwide Orphans Foundation.