I have been taking an online course aiming at helping women come up with the best business idea for their season of life. (Eventually I will start bringing in an income again but I will wait to write about it at the appropriate time.) One of the things that the instructor talks about is imposter syndrome, or a feeling of inadequacy or incompetence, or an utter failure or a fraud for a person’s own ability or accomplishment. Many people don’t feel that they can or will be able to start a small business to bring in money, or doubt that they are good enough for others to use their service or buy their products. I don’t actually feel like that with the business idea that I came up with because it is well within my professional field. But this word “imposter” came to my mind the other day. I have been attending a weekly bible study with my kids. I get my me time during discussion with my group of ladies and get fed spiritually with the truths that a teaching leader imparts to us. The kids get their precious time to learn about God, be loved on by their teachers, and play with their friends. Last week prior to the lecture, a video was played to us to show the importance of the children’s program to the existence of the adult bible study class. Afterwards, the lecturer asked all the mothers with little kids in the program to stand up so that the crowd could show their appreciation for their dedication in bringing the kids. I hesitated for a few seconds before I slowly rose from my seat. I felt a tiny bit uneasy and didn’t look back at the rest of the people in the sanctuary since I sat quite close to the stage. The lecture started after that and I went on with my day. However, during the quiet evening hours when I reflected back various moments of the day, I thought about the moment when I stood up as a mom to my kids and I started analyzing my emotions. Why did I hesitate and why did I feel uneasy when the leader asked the moms to stand up? Maybe sometimes I still feel like an imposter. Not all the time, but sometimes. I know that my kids are mine and I am their mother. I love them to the moon and back, and will do anything for them. BUT, the fact that I didn’t get to carry them or share my genes with them still haunts me. Not all the time, but it creeps up at moments like this. At times I do still feel insecure about it and wonder how the kids would feel about their unique history when they are teenagers or adults. I wonder if my love for them is enough for them to feel secure about their special situation being children born out of the tremendous love I and their dad have for them. Deep down, at rare moments, I do feel like a fraud, as if someday someone would come and take them away from me because I am not their real mother. This is all silly talk when I am sane and busy with a beautiful life full of chaos of raising twins, but at times this silly talk is not too silly and consumes me and makes my heart ache for the journey that I had to take in order to become my babies’ mama. Fortunately, I feel secure as their mother 99% of the time, but when that rare moment comes at an unexpected time, I am almost surprised at having these feelings. I guess these emotions will probably never completely go away.
I have 16-month-olds.
To me, that’s mind boggling. Where did the time go? Where did the babies go? You blink and they are now full-blown toddlers. They can walk, run, climb up stairs, climb on the couch, climb down the couch, climb up on a slide and slide down. They eat, throw food, have preferences, throw tantrums, play hide and seek, and hide toys from their sibling. They have a sense of humor. When did that happen?
It amazes me that not too long ago, we were yearning for a child. You blink, and we are now responsible for two human beings that need love, care, and parenting.
After our gestational carrier had her chemical pregnancy, my heart was full of doubt because I didn’t know if the remaining three embryos would become a baby for us or not. My friend A. encouraged me by telling me that things don’t change until they change. And that was right. That was over two years ago. The next transfer gave us these two kids that are meant to be in our family. One of my girlfriends has been trying to create embryos with her own eggs for a number of years and is still struggling with the idea of egg donation if none of the embryos from her own eggs worked. I share with her over and over again that I would never trade my kids with a child that shares my genes. These are mine and mine forever. I don’t want anyone else.
Some days I look at them and still cannot believe that we are so blessed to be parents of these two.
Please do not grow up too fast.
The kids’s comprehension has grown exponentially in the last month or so, especially Okra. He was the one who did not understand as much as Bunny in the past. Now he has caught up and even surpassed her in some areas. It has been a lot of fun and a joy to see that they make connections and associations with concepts and ideas. They do things like following two-step directions (e.g. Go pick up the carrot and give it to mommy) or turning a book right side up when I tell them that it’s upside down. About a month ago Okra showed interest in the pictures of our maternity shoot that are hanging on the nursery wall. He pointed at the photos and I’d tell him that Annie Yee Yee (Auntie Annie in Cantonese) and mommy are in them. From then on, whenever I ask where Annie Yee Yee is, he points at the photos. I figure since the kids know body parts such as tummy, I started telling them about who Annie Yee Yee is. I say, “See Annie Yee Yee’s big tummy? You guys were inside of her when she was carrying you both for mommy. There is Okra, and there is Bunny.” I said that a few times when they were standing in the cribs after listening to their nap time and bed time stories. I didn’t expect them to understand or remember what I said for a while. To my surprise, these kids actually know what’s going on. A couple of days ago, after I changed Bunny’s diaper, I asked her where Annie Yee Yee was. She pointed at the photos. I asked her who was inside of Annie Yee Yee’s tummy. She patted on her own chest and smiled! Wow I was impressed. I thought it was a one off, so I tried it later again, this time with Okra. After their nap time story before putting them down, I asked both of them who was inside of Annie Yee Yee’s tummy, and both of them patted on their own chest. I don’t think Okra was copying Bunny. I feel that they both knew what I was talking about. At a few days shy of 16 months, that was not bad at all! I told Annie about it. It was so heartwarming for her to know that the kids are learning about her. This is our first step of telling the kids about their conception story. By about 18 months, I’ll gauge their comprehension skills and start talking about their egg donor. Hopefully by the time they fully understand the world around them, their conception story of egg donation and surrogacy will be a part of them as natural as breathing in air.
This past Christmas Bob and I started a discussion on how to handle the topic of Santa Claus with the kids. I used to laugh at the pictures of babies crying sitting on mall Santa’s laps until I have my own kids. I am not comfortable with the thought of placing my kids on the lap of a stranger. Unlike parents who grew up in the states and are used to taking their kids to the mall to meet Santa, we did not engage in that activity. One friend suggested that we can ask the kids in the future if they want their picture taken with Santa in the mall. More than a Kodak moment with a man with fake beard on, we wonder how to talk about Santa when the babies start to understand these things. Both Bob and I did not grow up in the United States, which means we did not grow up with the wonder of getting gifts from Santa and later discovering the truth. Growing up poor, I had always known that Christmas meant having a good meal on Christmas day (the one and only fancy meal in the year) and nothing else. Bob was from a Hindu household that did not celebrate Christmas. As Christ followers, we want our kids to focus on the meaning behind Christmas, which is the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We wonder if we should engage in this fantasy of Santa Claus as parents who did not have first hand childhood experience of writing to Santa, leaving cookies and milk for Santa, and finding presents from Santa. More importantly, we wonder if focusing on Santa would take away from our focus on Jesus. I asked our pastor, our gestational carrier, and the kids’ godmother how they handle this topic. They all chose not to do Santa. Some chose to tell the kids about Saint Nicholas and why people celebrate him. Our pastor did say that he didn’t think it’s a bad thing to do, but just wants us to make sure that the kids understand Santa is not the most important. After discussing with Bob, we are leaning towards not doing Santa. Our kids are still young. We did have a Christmas tree and hung their special ornaments for this year: Okra’s is a fire truck (his favorite) and Bunny’s is a girl holding a book that said “I love reading”. The babies wore their Christmas pajamas and opened their presents on Christmas morning. We went to Christmas eve service and spent quality time with family. Other than that it was another low key Christmas with a few good presents and a whole lot of love going around. The babies didn’t quite get the art of ripping the wrapping papers and getting new toys. But we had a great time with them nonetheless. I am quite sure they will get much more excited next year.