03 May 2018

A Mermaid's Tale


Once upon a time, upon a sea far, far away, a therapeutic foster mom adopted a seven-year-old carrot-top girl who had been through quite a few temporary placements, as well as a couple of permanent placements gone awry.

Mom believed consistency, stability and lots and lots of love would cure all ills, but through a lifetime of learning discovered luggage-bearing wards-of-state sometimes come with wounds that can't completely heal.

A child who has been through nine homes sees things in a different way than an adult who, even though raised in a blended family, cannot possibly comprehend the attachment issues adoption agencies spend decades trying to navigate and decipher.


Mom struggled with trying to teach the child ownership, but never, ever stopped trying. How does one teach possession when the student spent seven years never able to hold onto anything long term... from a pair of jeans to a stuffed animal to a bed in the same home for longer than a couple of months?

The little girl grew up, ran away, and returned to the lifestyle of the parents who gave birth to her, the former life she knew, the life with far less to lose. A life with no roots, a life with no connections or commitments, a life with no stability and very little love or compassion. Thousands of tears were shed by the adoptive mom.


Many years later, the now grown little girl had a little girl of her own. The adoptive mom made a quilt for her newborn granddaughter, crafted from fabric the adopted daughter had picked, used and loved as a child.


A year later, grandmother and granddaughter met for the first time, and grandmother crafted a mermaid tail for the baby.


Another year later, the adoptive mom made Christmas quilts for more grandchildren. The adopted daughter was angry because her child wasn't a recipient (even though she and the baby also received handmade Christmas gifts).


"Don't you remember?" the adoptive mom consoled, "I made a quilt for your daughter when she was born. It was made from very special fabric I've saved all these years from your childhood."


The adoptive mom was devastated to hear the quilt was long gone. She didn't know how to contain the sense of loss... as if losing her adopted child all over again. Hundreds of tears were shed.

One day the adoptive mom realized... remembered... the adopted daughter doesn't place the same value on things as typical adults. In her mind, the adopted daughter didn't lose something precious. The lost quilt was just another segment of her life that evaporated while she wasn't looking, an experience she had grown accustomed to throughout her early years. Many tears were shed in the beginning, but as years wore on and memories faded, self-protection constructed a wall around painful losses. Life goes on.


The adoptive mom decided to make another quilt for the granddaughter's birthday, this time with instructions, both written and verbal, for the adopted daughter to cherish and protect the quilt (which would have no emotional or generational significance other than being handmade, just in case).


She opted to use the same heart free-motion quilting she'd used on the first quilt. Because the new grandma loves that little girl with all her heart.


The adoptive mom stuffed matching dolphin and mermaid pillows with quilt clippings collected during the previous two years. She learned never to stuff a pillow with leftovers while wearing a flannel dress. She wanted to make a matching dress, too, as well as a new mermaid tail, but there wasn't enough time. The birthday package had to be mailed.


"Your daughter is too young to understand the importance of holding onto cherished things. It's your job to protect heirlooms, probably until your daughter is grown and on her own. Just like I held onto that fabric from your first sewing lessons. What if I had lost that and couldn't make a special quilt for your daughter?"


"I'm sorry, Mom," the adopted daughter said after a long pause. She got it. She understood. "I didn't mean to hurt you."

The adopted mom knew at that moment her granddaughter wouldn't care that her new quilt wasn't made from fabric connected to her mother. She would enjoy whatever her grandmother gave her, and when she is old enough to understand, she will treasure the story of the special quilt that swam away. Perhaps it will give the new quilt more meaning because it symbolizes the sea of treasures we often cannot fathom.








Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.



12 comments :

  1. A struggle but the "adopted mom" kept on pushing through. Good when you both can realize things from the other's point of view.

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    1. Thanks, Pat. It's good to not give up hope, and things are improving, so I definitely can't complain!

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  2. i really love this story - I wish I was eloquent enough to have great words.... but I don't . I did however love the light at the end of the tunnel ;-) Your a great *new Grandma* and a great *adoptive mom*

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    1. Thank you, Alycia. Your words are eloquent enough, and I appreciate your friendship.

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  3. A touching story! I'm sorry for the hundreds of tears shed, but thankful that again you have contact with all your grandchildren. Being a mom or a grandma is hard sometimes, but mostly it is precious......

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    1. Thank you, Grandma Judy B! Being a grandparent truly is a blessing!

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  4. Thank you so much for telling this story. It illuminates that dark place where a person seems to lose stuff, and doesn't even know that they should have kept things. I hope your adopted daughter can enjoy her little girl for a long time, because then she will remember your love for herself...I think. I came over from crazy mom quilts.

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    1. Thank you, Ruth. I hope she knows how much I love her and her daughter...

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  5. We just have to keep loving them where they are. I'm so glad you're a quilter.

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    1. Thank you, Natasha. Quilting does help soothe some of the tears , doesn’t it?

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  6. Well done, and well said, mom/grandma.

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    1. Thank you, Herding! Things continue to improve as time goes on...

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