Yesterday my Nannie’s glass was shattered, intentionally thrown across the room by a child of mine. My heart shattered with it for that glass held memories.
When we visited my Nannie in Florida, I would wake with the sun to the aroma of fresh eggs, bacon, and grits. I would stumble into her bright yellow kitchen. The counters always cluttered, the small white table nicely set, and the glasses full of orange juice.
“Thumbprint glasses,” I called them.
I would put my tiny thumb into the imprint of each beautiful dent and admire the rainbows the iridescent glass made. That tiny thumb grew into a teenage one and eventually into an adult, but the memory stays the same. Nannie cooked tirelessly, the table set just for me, and conversation as if I was the only thing that mattered while my parents enjoyed a morning to sleep in.
My Nannie passed a few years ago at age 106, and my mother inherited a lot of her things. I would come back from Bosnia for a visit, and my mother always brought out the thumbprint glasses just for me at breakfast time. Over time, the whole set dwindled down to two glasses, but I cherished them the same. When my mother passed in 2019, and my dad asked what I wanted, I didn’t ask for much. I don’t have space for many keepsakes so I have to be choosy.
I chose the thumbprint glasses. Those women left their prints on me, and those glasses hold memories.
And yesterday, my child broke one of them.
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I’ve been doing some deep work the past couple of years, asking what’s going on inside of me when a child misbehaves instead of moving straight toward reactionary discipline. I remained calm as I sat him on the step for a “time-in.” I talked about how it made me sad because of what that glass meant to me. He didn’t seem to understand—of course, he wouldn’t.
But my girls heard me, and then saw me weep later. They were so sweet and showed empathy. We had a conversation about sentimental things. They understood it was so much more than an object.
This happened on the day we recognize in the adoption community as “First Mothers Day,” honoring our child’s birth mother. The realization of all this came to a head, and I could hardly breathe at the magnitude. My child who came to us through adoption shattered my glass. A visual of his past, of all the broken pieces we will never be able to fix surrounding his story. He has no thumbprint glass, no sentimental object reminding him of her. Of the one who gave him life. Of the one who is gone and not coming back.
I cried for a long time.
But redemption comes in the morning.
After spending some deep time in grief (Mother’s Day is hard for a while, if not forever, once you lose your mom) my Adeline told me to go upstairs. She was very adamant. My kids have never really done anything for Mother’s Day. I went upstairs grateful for some time alone.
An hour later, Adeline called me downstairs. She was listening. She got it.
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My daughter and her siblings (along with poor Josh, who used all his COVID energy) made me breakfast. The table was set nicely. Bacon, eggs, grits, and orange juice in the one remaining thumbprint glass. A homemade banner that I only understood a third of with hand-drawn thumbprint glasses.
I could not hold back the tears.
“Mommy! We recreated it for you!” Adeline squealed with joy. I have never cried at something my kids have done for me. I’m just not that kind of person. But this was so thoughtful, so redeeming, I could not hold it back.
“Happy Mother’s Day! Do you love it?”
Of course, I do, sweethearts. Of course, I do. You are my Mother’s Day, all five of you. And I hope one day you will look at that one remaining thumbprint glass, drink orange juice from it, and know you are the only thing that really matters.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page