Biological mothers typically get a nine-month period to prepare for parenthood. Foster and adoptive mothers might wait and wait for news … then find themselves parents of a tot or teen virtually overnight. Plenty of mothers juggle soccer practice with homework, but fewer have to add court dates and social worker visits to the mix. Not only can these realities place unusual stress on foster and adoptive moms, their uncommon nature means that it can also be harder to find much-needed understanding and support.
Step-parenting can be similarly stressful. We come to love a child because we love their parent. We give daily, unconditional love to a child who may or may not ever give it back. (Yes, I know, the same can be said of all parents.) There can be a whole other dimension of stress (and joy) for stepparents. It is wonderful, and deeply stressful.
When a woman becomes a mom in one of these ways, there is often no ‘baby shower’. There is not always time for a celebration that surrounds her with love and support. So let’s make sure these moms get that extra love in other ways!
Massage can help manage this stress, for all members of the family. Symptoms of stress, such as headaches, high blood pressure, and anxiety, can all be alleviated by massage. And for children who come from backgrounds where touch was lacking (or inappropriate), pediatric massage can help them develop a healthy relationship with touch. When foster and adoptive mothers learn some of these techniques for themselves, it can also be a way for children and their new parents to bond.
Women who give themselves and give their love to children who arrived a little later than newborn stage have a special place in my heart. Remember to honor those women on Mother’s Day.