"Who is your real mother?" was frequently asked of me: a little girl who wasn't raised by a woman of her own flesh and blood.
"Do you know who your real Mom is?"
"Yes," was my serene, confident reply. However, my elaborated answer concerned the way I define motherhood, rather than only exclusive biological facts the inquisitor was seeking.
Biology and blood can create an initial premise to motherhood. But blood alone is not capable of defining motherhood through the eyes of a child. Motherhood is not contingent on blood, as any adopted child who was nurtured with proper helpings will affirm.
Motherhood graces many children in helpings like portions of food at mealtime. Some children languish due to felonies of those who chose to bring them into the world without providing or facilitating proper helpings of motherhood. Some children only receive rare helpings of motherhood. Some receive teeming helpings while being raised. Some receive each helping of motherhood from one woman. Some receive helpings from multiple women of their own flesh and blood. Some children receive heaping helpings of motherhood, with their tiniest beginning as the only portion derived from a woman of blood-relation.
I received my first helping of motherhood from my birthmother. I don't know who she is by name or face, but she nurtured me for nine months until I was strong enough to survive independent of her organs. Then she travailed physical and emotional depth and strength that labor and delivery required to give me literal life on earth.
Motherhood is nurturing a child at least that far.
Motherhood is nurturing a child phenomenally far beyond birth.
Motherhood is wisdom regarding the helpings, or lack of them, that can either lift or lower a child's wellbeing and future, then making benevolent choices accordingly in the child's behalf.
It was not until I was 22 years old, after carrying and giving birth to my firstborn, that I experienced a relationship bond with someone who shared the same bloodline as me. Blood had neither been a word nor synonym within my definition of mother. Prior to then, my relationships, expressions of love, levels of devotion, time, sacrifice and loyalty received and given by me was void of biological motives. Even today, it doesn't come natural for me to think in terms of blood as the reason to seize motherhood. How I determine with whom I'll share the qualities that nurture relationships and create motherhood isn't about blood. It's about follow through in providing or facilitating helpings of motherhood after making choices to become a mother.
If I hope to deliver motherhood, like the woman who raised and taught me to understand each facet of what motherhood is, I'll nurture with plenty of conversation, education and helpings in portions hearty enough to be relied upon at quintessential seasons of life. I long for these helpings to enable my adopted and conceived children to confidently answer the loaded question, "Do you know who your real mother is?"