Small things = Big losses

I love this beautiful and heart-breaking post about parenthood by intercountry adoptee Mila.

Mila wrote:

This is just another mundane food photo to most.

But for me this photo represents a powerful moment that I shared with my daughter today–because it was a moment that my Omma [Mila’s biological mother] and I lost forever, a moment that was erased from our relationship before we were ever able to begin. A moment that is easily taken for granted:

My two-year old daughter and I sat side by side eating lunch together.


Sometimes, in the smallest, most simple of moments I am blindsided by the profound loss and sorrow of my adoptedness, while concurrently experiencing an inexplicable and overwhelming satisfaction knowing that I can have with my daughter what my Omma and I never did and never will–experiencing both the ordinary and extraordinary moments of my daughter’s childhood…together.


I love the post. But I also hate it.


I hate it because I wish I didn’t understand what Mila was talking about.


Yet I understand it, too well. In all the little things that my son and I share there is carefree bliss, the emotional weight of parent-love…and the icy hand of grief that reminds me I am sharing something with my son that my Amma and I could not.


My Amma is a wonderful cook. Her food is utterly amazing (especially as she cooks vegetarian food and I am a vegetarian). In Skype conversation with Amma, I told her how I wished I could eat some of her food, but I did not know how to cook Sri Lankan food. Amma said that she will teach me how to cook like she does. Now, these are the recipes that she learnt to cook from her own mother. The recipes that have been passed down, that I would have known, if things transpired as they do for most people and I hadn’t had to be adopted. The recipes that would have been my childhood, that have a history, a heritage, a family that are mine. But that are not mine.


I can learn to cook like my Amma. I can learn those recipes. We can fill in some of those gaps. But what we can’t ever have, what I have lost, is a life where that knowledge is not a gem, a life where I could take or leave that knowledge, secure in the fact that I could get it any time I needed it and where the process of learning to cook like my mother was not an event to be celebrated, but was, simply about getting tonight’s food on the table.


So I love Mila’s post. But I hate it, too. If only I was a bystander, reading that post, looking in from a different view.


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