Then I kind of started laughing at the pathetic figure I’d created for myself. Then I cried some more. Then I worked on some adoption paperwork, which, I’ve learned from AK’s psychology program, is called “sublimation” and is considered one of the healthier defense mechanisms, thank you very much.
Nicole and her sister Vanessa decided to host a Motherless Mother’s Day high tea, which felt like a nice respite—“the first Mother’s Day I’ve looked forward to in eight years,” said Cathy, who came too. They took it seriously: I kept getting very specific texts from Nicole like, “Can you bring a box of Twinings Earl Grey tea?” and “Can you bring some Brussels cookies? If they don’t have them, Milanos are an okay back-up.”
“That’s all Vanessa,” Nicole said when I arrived. “If it were up to me, I’d be like, ‘Bring some cookies.’”
Vanessa is very glamorous. After visiting her apartment, I want to display stacks of vintage French books around my house too, except I don’t actually speak French.
For the tea, she’d made her own tiered dishes by stacking plates on overturned glasses. There were charmingly mismatched mugs. There were dainty salmon sandwiches and bread served with butter and radish slices. There were petit fours and berries with clotted cream that Vanessa may have clotted herself.
There were eight women in all, longtime members of the Motherless Club and recent conscripts. We didn’t go around in a circle and talk about our grief or anything. The longest conversation of the day was about the politics of yoga. But we talked about our moms here and there—Jessica mentioned recipes that had been passed down in her family; my sister brought up our mom’s flour-dusted recipe book, in which most of the recipes began, “Take one box of yellow cake mix….” Mostly it was just nice to be in a room full of people who get it, even when the “it” stays offstage.
I had some quiet time with my journal and the Squeakies too. I read a chapter in Children of Open Adoption that cautioned against proceeding with adoption when the grief of infertility is too fresh. I think that would be true if I were handed a baby tomorrow, but it will take weeks just to get my driving record from the DMV. And I think I can mourn my first babies while making sure they’re not my last. Since when did life not unfold in complicated, overlapping layers? I know how to multitask. I hear it’s what moms do.
*Things that would probably send me scrounging for proof of my still-coolness if I were actually a mom. “Why brunch?” I would say to my kids. “You don’t think I’ll still be awake at dinner time, do you? You might as well just get me a book of inspirational quotes from the Mother’s Day table at Barnes & Noble. I want funky jewelry and tickets to edgy plays with swear words in them, dammit!”