Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

We had an adventurous Mother’s Day today, looking for the 10,000 Rock Botanic Garden and never finding it – but we found other interesting things along the way, so it was a good day.

The guidebook directions for finding the garden was to go over the mountain behind Xiada by passing the circular dining hall and bearing left past the mineral water bottling company and the Buddhist nunnery. How hard could that be, right?! Especially since I knew exactly where the circular dining hall was. Well, that was the last familiar sight we saw . . . until we found ourselves at the law school instead of at the botanic garden!

We walked past the dining hall, and up and up and up the winding road, until we came upon an unexpected lake!
Now, this is the point where I should have turned suspicious. When we were at Si Bo’s house, Han told us that there was a road from Nanputuo gate to the law school that passed a lake, but it never occurred to me that we were on THAT road rather than the road to the botanic garden. We even asked someone who spoke English, and he gave a sort of ambiguous answer that sounded like we were headed the right way, and then said something else that made me think that maybe he didn’t understand what we were asking. And the guidebook hadn’t mentioned passing a lake . . . .

But on we walked, with Maya insisting on frequent breaks. . .

until we came to a tunnel. Now, if I were writing directions to the botanic garden, I think I’d mention a tunnel – maybe I’d forget to mention a lake, but surely I’d mention a tunnel. And the guidebook most assuredly did not mention a tunnel. But on we soldier, through the tunnel. After all, tunnels go through mountains, and the botanic garden is on the other side of the mountain, right?!

Soon we saw a cluster of apartment buildings that looked sort of familiar, and I thought I saw glimpses of the ocean beyond them, and it occurred to me that we were near Si Bo’s house, and nowhere near the botanic garden! Sigh.

We headed to the law school, planning to look online for better directions to the botanic gardens, but when we passed Han’s office, the door unexpectedly opened – she was working today! She wished us a happy Mother’s Day, and I asked if that holiday was celebrated in China, and she assured me it was. So why was she working on Mother’s Day, I asked? She said Si Bo wasn’t at home, since he had ping pong lessons and calligraphy lessons today. And she wrote “10,000 Rock Botanic Garden” in Chinese for us to give to a taxi driver.

But by this time, it was 11 o’clock, the girls were whining that they were hungry – after all, they had walked over a mountain, even if it wasn’t the right mountain! So we decided to put off the botanic garden until another day and head for the beach instead. There are restaurants on the boardwalk that we could check out.
This is beginning to sound like an extended metaphor for motherhood – wandering about with no idea if you’re headed in the right direction, getting lost, getting found, finding help, and going off in another direction altogether that leads to fun and adventure. And indeed, we ended up having a fun and adventurous Mother’s Day lunch.

After walking a while on the boardwalk, we found a restaurant with beach-side dining and went in. The host spoke a little English, and we asked for a table near the beach. They didn’t have any available – after all, it’s Mother’s Day! They were very crowded, and had signs suggesting some kind of Mother’s Day special, but since “Mother’s Day” was the only English on the sign, I have no idea what special it was. But he said he would give us “a room.” That means a private banquet room. It was really nice to have our own private room with a sitting area for lounging until the food came.

I pulled out my trusty “Essential Guide to Mandarin” book, set to order lunch, when the waitress beckoned me to follow her out of the room. I followed, thinking perhaps she was taking me to someone who spoke English. No, she was taking me to the live fish and seafood tanks so I could PICK OUT our meal!
Not being able to tell an oyster from a scallop when it is not sautéed on my plate, I went back to our room and sent Mimi to do the ordering! She selected shrimp and clams. But soon she was back telling me I had to pick out the fish, but that there was a very helpful fellow who spoke English and said he knew me.

Who could that be? It turned out to be a man who saw me and the girls at the park on the day the firefighters were running their drills there. When Mimi went to pick out lunch, she had Zoe with her, and he immediately recognized Zoe and asked where her little sister was! And it turns out the man is a featured chef at the restaurant.
He helped me select a fish, and suggested some vegetable dishes, and as we were heading back to our room, he showed me a poster on the wall of himself making Indian flatbread. I said, well, we HAD to have some of his flatbread, then!Soon the food started coming, and it was all delicious. The Indian flatbread had banana slices in it, and the girls loved it.

The shrimp was coated in spices and deep-fried, and you are to eat it shell and all. It was wonderful, even the head and tail!

The clams were very fresh and very tasty, sautéed with garlic and spring onions and red peppers. The dish looked every bit as good as it tasted. And the fish was wonderful – what little the girls left me to eat! They’ve become quite the fish-eaters. And you can see how proficient they’ve become with chopsticks – all the good food we’re having is a great motivator to master chopsticks.

We walked home from the boardwalk via the Beach Gate, and stopped at the fruit market there. In addition to mangos, pipas, and pineapple, we bought a fresh coconut. The fruit seller punched a hole in it and provided two straws, and the girls drank every bit of the coconut milk before we could even walk home. (And then you should have seen us after dinner trying to break the @#%$ thing open to get to the meat! After attacking it with a hammer and scissors and a knife, we finally managed it!).

So, we had quite an adventure for Mother’s Day – it wasn’t the Mother’s Day adventure we planned, but it was just right anyway! And when we got home, Mimi and the girls gave me the perfect Mother’s Day gift – Mimi made sure Zoe and Maya played quietly together and allowed me to take a nice long nap!

One day, about 5 months ago, Zoe told me, “I have lots of mothers – I have a regular, a birth, a god, and a grand. And Maya also has a regular, a birth, a foster, and a grand.” Yes, indeed, my girls have lots of important mothers in their lives. I know that a lot of adoptive parents don’t like the “what about her real parents” question, since it seems to imply that adoptive parents aren’t real parents. Many will answer, “We ARE her real parents.” I agree, I’m Zoe’s and Maya’s REAL mom – or their REGULAR mom to use Zoe’s words! But their birth mothers are real mothers, too. They made an incredibly important contribution to these girls – they gave them life, and then made sure they had a life by putting them where they would be found quickly. I thank God every day for their birth parents, and pray that they have found peace in the decision they made.

And learning today that Mother’s Day is celebrated in China, I’ve been thinking a lot of Zoe’s and Maya’s birth mothers, wondering what they are thinking today. I have to admit, one of the reasons I chose to adopt from China was that there was no “danger” of birth parent contact. I found the whole idea completely threatening. But now, having my girls, knowing that they aren’t at all confused about who their “regular” mom is, and knowing how much it would mean to them to have more information about their birth families, I’d give anything to have the chance to meet their birth mothers. I would have so many questions for them. And I would want to tell them how incredible these children are. And I would want to thank them for giving me the opportunity to be a mother.

So, to all the mothers out there – the regular, the birth, the foster, the god, and the grand – Happy Mother’s Day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well put about all the moms! Happy mother's day!