“Kiss today goodbye, the sweetness and the sorrow. Wish me luck, the same to you. But I can’t regret, what I did for love.” ~song lyric, “What I Did For Love,” A Chorus Line. I wrote those song lyrics in an album for my baby girl when she was just a few days old.
I wanted her to know. I did it for love. Not because it wasn’t yet “cool” to be a teen mom. Not because I had this big plan to see the world. Not because I was starting a career and a baby would hamper that. Those are sometimes the reasons we hear for women not parenting. The baby will somehow get in the way of the mother’s life plans. But that wasn’t it for me. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. I’d wanted to be a mother for as long as I could remember. From the time I was a preschooler I was drawn to babies and children. I wanted children. There was no other plan. Nothing more important. But it wasn’t about me. It was about her. And how much I loved her already. I set aside my own heart, and because I loved her so much, I could say I love you enough to want the very best for you. And it’s not me.
That song from A Chorus Line became my life preserver in those first days, weeks, and months. I would listen to it over and over, reminding myself that I had to live without regret. I had to remember why I did it. For love. Because my pain was a small price to pay for knowing that she was in a better place.
Better is such a difficult word. Because it is difficult not to see better as meaning one good option and one bad. I had to realize (over many, many years) that not being the best choice didn’t make me a bad choice. It just meant that in that place and time, there was something and someone(s) better for her. She would be loved and cared for just as I would have liked to, but provided for in a way that I couldn’t with my lack of resources. And that didn’t mean less love for her in any way. It actually meant more love – the love of a birthmother that would love from afar, and adoptive parents that would love her up close. And how could more love, not be the very best choice.
I would always have the sweetness of those first days with her in the hospital. Always remember her chubby little cheeks, the little blondie tuft of hair that curled on top of her head. The way she was wide-eyed and alert and blowing bubbles at all of us. And I would never forget the sorrow of walking away from the hospital. The gut-wrenching emptiness of leaving. And knowing it was for love. Love that would be bigger than it all.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” ~1 John 3:16, and even for our children. I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord yet at the time of her birth, although looking back I can see His presence, pursuing me. His assurance that love was the right choice. That He wanted me to set aside my feelings and just love in the very best way. Love. Always love. Love amplified so much it hurt. And even then unmastered. Messy, sobbing, heart twisting love. Always.
“Gone. Love is never gone. As we travel on. Love’s what we’ll remember.. . . We did what we had to do. Won’t forget. Can’t regret. What I did for love.” ~song lyric, “What I Did For Love,” A Chorus Line.