Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Power of Being a Mother

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

That is so true. In ways I will never understand. See, I never gave birth. Was never pregnant. Not even once.
It's Mother's Day. For me, this day has always been mixed with various emotions. Last year, I wrote about the struggles I went through with my own mother.
You see, I think there are two different types of relationships with a mother and daughter: either you are super close or always at each other's throats. Growing up, I was the latter. You can find that post HERE.
I have even written about not having children. You can read that post HERE.
Instead of concentration on the negative (which is sort of .. well.. a MAJOR reason I am the way I am..) I decided to take a look at a different aspect.
Saturday afternoon, I sat with my friend, Julie, by the pool talking about Mother's Day. She told me how her husband was taking the kids to the store to pick out a treat for her, and that the family was going to come over on Sunday and celebrate. I made a joke about how I need a special day, just for not over populating the world...  We laughed a little, then I did throw in.. but I have had a chance to "sort of" mother a few.
Or to at least be a little special.. to someone..
Even though, biologically, I cannot.
Probably the most important role I can even have is being the Godmother of my niece, Autumn. Here she is the day that the Catholic Church pronounced me the "spiritual" mother of this child.
This little devil is my world. I love her so much. What I find fascinating, is that when I look at her - I see my eyes reflected right back at me. She is as close to a genetic link that will continue as I will ever get.
Luckily, my husband is crazy in love with her. My sister can rest assured, that no matter what happens, he and I will be there for her forever.

This is my first exchange student from Thailand - Pennapa. This picture was taken just a few days before 9/11. We took a trip to Savannah.
My sweet little "ping pong" as I loved to call her was Buddhist. Here she is celebrating her first Christmas with us. I got to play Santa. Honestly, I went crazy overboard buying gifts for her. I loved her with all of my heart. Sure, there were cultural differences.. but by the end of the year - PURE LOVE.
Pennapa & I - my first daughter. She lived with me for one year... and here she is NOW:
She is on the left.

My second exchange student was Camille from Paris. I took this pic of her at High Falls in Georgia. She only stayed with us a few weeks (her exchange was only during the summer.) But we had a lovely time.
This is her now:

My Third exchange student was Carole from Belgium. She lived with us for a few months, and her exchange program ended. Unfortunately, I do not have any of her photos scanned from her stay - but I do have one photo now:

My third exchange student was Chiara from Italy. She and I had a very fast bond, and I cherished every moment with her:

Chiara lived with us for about 8 months. We traveled all over the place and had a grand time!
Here is Chiara now:
My next exchange student was a boy from Belgium, named Patrick. Unfortunately, I do not have any of his pictures scanned either. Nor do I have any updated photos - we did not keep in touch. He only lived with our family for a couple of months.

My next exchange student was Roslin from Colombia.

Roslin and I had a great time together. Bless her heart, her english took a very long time to come together, but we made it work! She lived with us from for about 7 months (1 semester.)
Here she is now:

My next exchange student was my very first double placement. I ended up with 2 children at one time! Elena from Moldova and Jackie from Germany.

Jackie is on the left and Elena is on the right.

Out of all of my exchange students - Jackie and I were the most similar in personality. She lived with us for about 4 months.

Elena was with us for one year.

Here they are now:

Elena and I were super close while she was here. We still call each other "Pookie Bear." :-)

While Elena lived with us, by the following January she had a new "sibling." Matt from Australia.

Matt actually lived with us longer than any of our students. After Elena left, we ended up with another "summer" exchange student - Maria from Spain. Here is Matt & Maria.

After the summer - we ended up with another girl - Ilaria from Italy. She ended up living with us about 10 months.

I do not have a recent pic of Ilaria, but I do have one of Matt:

Two months after Ilaria arrived, we ended up moving to Alabama. So - Matt & Ilaria transferred to a different school in the fall. (Matt lived with us from Jan - December.)

When Matt was ready to leave, Ilaria was still with us, and next came Felipe from Brazil. The day we dropped Matt off at the airport, Felipe arrived!

For about 2 hours I had 3 children!

Felipe was definitely a "mama's boy" - (he would kill me for saying that.) But my little Brazilian stayed very close to my side.

After he left, we took a summer off. Then I got another double placement.

Kimhoy from Cambodia ended up living with us for 2 months in Alabama.

Then Mina - from Kurdistan (or as we know it - Northern Iraq.)
Mina lived with me for one year.

This picture was taken just days before my exhusband asked me for a divorce. So yes, I was a single mom for about 7 months. Mina was my rock, a beautiful example of a daughter. My first encounter with a muslim. She was there when I met the egyptian. To this day... she still can't believe it all happened.
This is Mina Now:

And here:

There are a few more very important people I need to introduce you to - the people/women that are responsible for passing on their genes:

This is my mother's mother - Betty Jo Terry (later Williams) with her nephew Herbert. (My grandfather's brother.)

Here are the apple's of my eye - my Grandma Betty with Papa (Henry Melvin Williams) and his mother my Granny (Beulah Mae Knowles (Williams)

I do not have any photos of my father's parents. My grandpa Thurston (Emerson Waldo Thurston) died when I was 4 and my grandma Thurston (Hazel Marie Small (Thurston) died when I was 15. I only saw them once a year. They lived in Indiana.

My Granny died when I was 17. My Grandma Betty died when I was 22 and my Papa died just two weeks shy of my college graduation (I was 24.)

This was also as close to a child as I will ever get. Nanook Thurston lived with me for 10 years until he went onto Dog Heaven. To learn more about the true love of my life - read that post HERE.

Finally - as for my mother, I have made peace with the teenage angst.
From her I have inherited my strength, my fiery personality, my quick temper, my creativity and my love of travel and the arts.

In closing....
I may not have given birth biologically, but I know what motherhood means.


Maeve Frazier said...

Nicole - After reading your blog, I think you are an amazing woman!

Dawn said...

I will agree with Maeve... Nicole, you are beyond amazing. You have opened up your life to children/young adults and have "been" a mother figure to them. Being a mother doesn't mean you actual had to go through the transformations before giving birth to a child, but rather being there for them in times where their real mother's couldn't be. I am in awe of everything you do. You truly are an incredible gift to everyone you come in contact with. Happy Mother's Day!

LBR said...

Nicole, look at all those lives you have touched!! What a gift, absolutely amazing.

Jo-anne "Blossy" said...

Nicole, after reading your post today I believe that you are most definitely a Mum! You are an amazing woman to have shared your home with so many children & sharing the love that you have. You rock!!
Happy Mothers Day!

Anonymous said...

Your exchange children are lovely ways to be a mom! Lucky them!!!

Laura said...

What a great post! I agree that that one does not have to be a biological mom to know what motherhood means. Happy Mother's Day to you!

Renee said...

It's really great that you've been able to open your home & the experience of living in the US to all your children! You did an awesome thing!

Bossy Betty said...

So many ways to nurture and show a mothering spirit.

Happy Mother's Day to you!

Lindsay said...

Hey Nicole, I am visiting from the Lady Bloggers Society tea party (I'm new to the site). I loved this post. Motherhood comes in so many different forms, and you have been a pseudo mother to SO many lucky exchange students, and I am sure have touched their lives forever. And I just have to say, your God daughter is such a cutie pie! Happy Mother's Day to you :)

becca said...

you are absolutely amazing a true angel and a blessing to each of these students who life's you touched.

Renee Weatherford said...

Yes... I would say you know motherhood very well! I am in the same boat - no children/no mother, but I have had passers through who have been both to me over the years :) Great blog!

A Gracious Home said...

I enjoyed your post and the pictures. I think the picture of your Godchild is the most beautiful baby picture I have seen. Doylene

TV's Take said...

WOW I've never known anyone to have so many exchange students what a fun experience for all.

Desi said...

Awesome post. I myself was reflecting on my drive home from work Mother's Day morning on how many woman are mothers who have not given birth or may no even have adopted and such. Yet still amazing woman and powerful mothers. I was also thinking of all those who have given birth and are not mothers...I will not go into the negative of such but such things are there. I have loved reading how you have changed so many wonderful life's and given to so many! Happy Belated Mother's Day! :D

soumatra said...

Kimhoy from Cambodia ended up living with us for 2 months in Alabama.
i really want to meet her so much
and she can't meet me forever


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