A couple days before Christmas, with a few days off, I had time to cross some personal to dos off my list. As my husband and I coordinated our family’s schedule for the next day, our daughter overheard my plans and asked to come along.
Being a working mom I try to spend my days off with the kids, but sometimes I really just want me time. And the first item on my list for the next day was my annual mammogram. I wasn’t sure how bringing her along would go. She’s so inquisitive and was sure to have a lot of questions. How do you explain a mammogram to a 6 year old?
But when she looked up at me with her big blue eyes, how could I say no? “Please Mommy, I don’t want to hang out with stinky boys!” she pleaded.
“Sure sweetheart, you can come along,” I said leaning down to give her a kiss on the cheek.
The next morning as we sat in the waiting room at the radiology clinic, I did my best to explain what a mammogram was and why I was having it done. “Ew, gross! Taking pictures of your breasts?” Her nose wrinkled in disgust. “And you have to take off your bras?” (Yep, bras plural. According to her two breasts can only fit in a bras.)
The technician led us to a small exam room and began asking me questions to make sure I was the patient whose records were on her screen. Name, date of birth, reason for my appointment. My daughter sat on my lap and I answer the technician’s questions without much thought.
“Number of children?” I could tell she was trying to sound kind and interested, but was bored of the routine.
“Two,” I said giving my daughter a quick squeeze.
“I only have one here,” her tone laced with a drop of annoyance, “2004.”
“Yes, that’s my son,” I said as realization dawned. “Is your question number of pregnancies?” I raised my eyebrows as I held her eye contact, hoping she’d catch the full meaning behind my question. There’s an important difference between number of children and number of pregnancies. I do believe the information you’re trying to confirm is number of pregnancies, I thought.
“That’s a different question,” I said trying to keep the annoyance out of my voice as adrenaline rushed through me. “I’ve had one pregnancy, your information is correct.” She looked at me with a quizzical look, “She’s adopted.” I said feeling frustration rise.
“Oh,” she replied brightly, “You have two sets of parents,” she said to my daughter.
Heat rose to my cheeks as I tried to quickly figure out how to respond. What was my daughter thinking? What would I say to the technician? What questions would my daughter ask me as we walked back to the car?
Before I could say anything my daughter responded, “I have three kinds of parents. Parents, birth parents, and Godparents.” How does she do that? How does she bring out the simplicity of her experience.
“She’s lucky to have so many people who love her,” I said giving her a peck on the cheek. “Are we ready to take the images now?” I asked the technician, anxious for the appointment to end.
The experience reminded me once again that adoption expands your family tree in new and unexpected ways. It also expands your heart’s capacity for love and changes your definition of family.
Love continues to grow. Last night her Godfather came for dinner with his fiancé. They’re getting married in September and my daughter is excited to attend her first wedding. She’s been so excited she even designed the dress she wants to wear on their big day. Her Godfather and his fiancé are family, uncles to be silly with and share her life.
To show her excitement she made them a bouquet of flowers, with a vase to hold them in. Sharing her artistic talent with two of her favorite guys.
Her capacity to love is one of the many unexpected lessons she has taught me.