The odd one out

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Why are we so bothered about being the odd one out, the person who hasn’t experienced what others have, the one who can’t relate to the story or the one who actually hasn’t got a clue what people are talking about. Have you ever been in a room (I’m sure you have) where you’ve just felt so uncomfortable and maybe even isolated? That the fact you can’t enter into the conversation is overwhelming and you need to leave? I’m wondering whether it’s actually the fact that you are confronted with the thing that you wanted the most and couldn’t have.

I went to a baby shower last night and I’ve not been to one since we were trying for children ourselves which I don’t remember feeling so bad about at the time. Now 8 years on and three adopted children later I was surprised by the depth of my feelings – not really that I wanted to have given birth and experienced what the other Mums in the room had but that I was different – abnormal, strange, alien even. And the biggest question that was going round my mind was – why does it matter?

Every other day of the week it doesn’t cross my mind that I’ve not given birth to my children – I still get them up in the morning, make their breakfast, take them to school, worry about them at school, pick them up from school and do all the motherly things the other Mums do. Doesn’t make me any less a Mum because I didn’t give birth to them. What does strike me as I think about it now is actually the feelings of loss not because I didn’t have my own baby but that I didn’t give birth to my children – that I didn’t experience that bonding with them, that I didn’t change their nappies and see them smile for the first time. My daughter sometimes says she wishes she could have her life over again – a ‘do over’ as the Americans would say and all I can say is I wish that too!

So we are different, so I’ve not given birth and experienced what it’s like to carry a baby around in my tummy. There are many other experiences I’ve had that others haven’t and it’s not a competition. At the end of the day however we came to be Mothers – we are Mothers. I guess focusing on what we can share instead of what we can’t is the lesson for me. I wouldn’t want the birth Mums out there to feel awkward around us Adopters, to feel that they can’t share their experiences with us – in the same way that I wouldn’t want to not be able to share my experiences with them. I’m coming to accept and actually cherish how we’ve come to be parents – and the next time I feel those feelings of difference I will try to remember to look for the sameness instead.

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