When I imagined becoming a mom, it was pretty straight-forward. I wasn’t worried about deciding on my parenting style or what kind of food I would feed my hypothetical children. There were no thoughts in my head about how to handle toddler poo-tastrophies or teen anxieties when the SAT test loomed. I didn’t have a family motto, a 5-year plan, or a discipline strategy. The million tasks and lessons that collectively are motherhood were pretty simple: Love them. I have been loved well by my mom, grandmas, aunts, and community around me and I had little thought other than, “Let’s get this show on the road.”
Then my motherhood happened backwards. First, at the age of 25, we adopted a 13-year-old. Then we spent five years as foster parents to a cumulative 13 children. Then as we sought to find who would be in our family next we set out to adopt a baby privately and ended up adopting 5 and 6-year-old siblings and a baby. These were separate adoptions but in the same year! Had anyone told me, especially when I first faced the realities of infertility, that I would one day have an adult child in college and a newborn, I would have never believed it. Truly only God knows the plans He has for our lives.
Clearly, I am a mom. I have four kids. I have parented every age of child except 2 and 3-year-olds, mercifully skipping potty training and the “I do it myself” stage so far. Yet the mom-space has felt hard to engage in because my experience of motherhood falls way outside the parameters that are a common experience. I don’t have a birth story or sleep advice to contribute to conversations, I have moved in and out of the lives of kids faster that I could connect with a playgroup, and if I joined a group for moms of preschoolers I was sure to get a preteen a month later.
That all to say, as a mother through adoption and foster care, mom books have historically been hard for me. I long to hear the stories, like mine, of people whose motherhood happened in a different way. In my life, the long and unexpectedly treacherous path that led me to motherhood has been a key way God has changed and molded me. If everything had gone just as planned, I would be an entirely different woman—a mom with vastly different priorities.
So, with that said. I am a mom who struggles with mom books and I’m here to tell you all about a fantastic book that hits a multitude of feelings about motherhood and all the ways it takes place across a spectrum of women.
In Made to Mother: A Look at the Link Between Femininity and Motherhood, Wynter Kaiser addresses the way women are uniquely made to mother from a fascinating intersection of neurological science and Biblical teaching. She delves into the way women nurture and care, whether for biological children, adopted children, as a mentor, teacher, and numerous other roles that we end up mothering in. There is something so wonderful and freeing about being seen in the midst of the story God wrote for you, especially if it may seem out of the box.
A few years ago, I had a rough Mother’s Day. It was hard to do all the mom things every day, and have a child who wasn’t even sure they liked me. After a brutal time of trying to put on a happy face at church, I got home and found a beautiful potted lily with a hand-written note on my doorstep from a dear friend. She saw my weird mothering spot and encouraged me. Years later I still have that note because being seen in my unique place validated all the hard things that were happening and gave me the courage to keep on.
May I suggest, that this book along with a note of appreciation would be a fabulous gift for your friend in a weird mothering spot: the single gal you appreciate for the way she mothers the kids she nannies, a birth mother you know who is reconciling motherhood in a different way, or the teacher who is a second mom to you. This book is all about seeing and celebrating the village of women who care for and raise the children in our lives.
Wynter has made it her mission to seek out stories of the many different ways women mother and has created a platform for sharing the amazing stories of these very different women. There are stories of big families, small families, families built through IVF, through embryo adoption, families built through adoption, families built “the old fashioned way.” Mom’s who work outside the home, moms who stay home with kids, grandmothers, aunts,and “Allomothers.” We all are in in together, no matter how differently we mother, or how motherhood came to us.
I hope you too will be refreshed by reading the 24 stories of moms across the mothering spectrum. My story (well adoption 1 of 4) is included! Find out more about the Made to Mother Project at madetomother.org or preorder the book now on Amazon!
Holly Hawes writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. She is 30-something and has been married to Josh since 2010. She is Mom to a teenager by adoption, a child she’ll meet in heaven, and often “bonus kids” via foster care. She loves creativity, the PNW, books, flowers, and sharing Jesus with hearts that need him.