Today, I awaken to the sounds of motherhood. My children are in the bed with me, rolling over, wanting attention and a bit of motherly love. Hank groans. Sandy Bear jumps off the bed with a solid thump as his four legs hit the carpeting. Shakespeare lies next to me on his pillow, rolling over, kicking his four legs in unison. I moan realizing morning has begun in this household filled with four-legged children demanding my attention.
Years ago, I was the mother to my son, and I am still the mother to him, although he is married now, with a precious child of his own. I am proud of my son and miss him in my life. He is busy with work, a career that demands his attention and his wife and family. Rarely do I see him, but that doesn’t stop the fact that I am his mother.
Motherhood is more than ‘birthing a child.’ It is a special time to care for the child and to teach the child the values, love and nourishment that all children need to grow up to be responsible, respected adults. I was an extremely young mother, giving birth to my child when I was only twenty-years-old. While I learned the ropes of successful motherhood, I recognized I wasn’t trained or ready to become a mother, and so my precious son taught me by his actions. Together we learned the definition of family and I am proud to be his mother.
To all of the mothers reading this, I would like to say, motherhood doesn’t come with a training manual. While we teach our children to speak, walk and to flutter their wings as we watch them growing up, we are constantly learning from them. When a child has its first ‘boo-boo’ we wipe their tears, while perhaps wiping a tear from our face. I recall a tear slipping down my face when my son went to kindergarten. In first grade, I became a volunteer at his school, only to be told that he wished I would not be at school so much. Perhaps I had raised him to be a bit too independent, so I backed away, recognizing that my son was growing up. While he still needed a mother, he also needed his independence. I did not wish to be a helicopter mom.
Every year at Mother’s Day, I think of my mother, wishing we could’ve become the mother daughter I always wanted. Let’s just say, my mother had issues. She never wanted her children to grow up, so she smothered us with control and manipulations. I broke away at an early age, fighting with every breath to have an independent life. Later in her life, when she was ill, I lived eight hours away from her. When she was moved from my youngest sister’s apartment to a care facility, I kept in touch daily with the nurses. I sent care packages to her, and when she could speak I spoke with her.
I lost my mother on September 11, 2002, and still I do not know the reasons for her death. She was recuperating from a stroke. According to the nurses ‘she was improving.’ I requested them to keep me informed. After her death, no one let me know of her passing until sixteen hours later. My youngest sister’s son phoned me to share the news. The last question he shared with me while on the phone was, “Aunt Barbie, do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”
Strange. I didn’t comprehend all that he was saying at the time.
I was on Prednisone and my brain simply was not processing these words. I was home at the time battling an acute attack of severe bronchitis. Her funeral was set for the next morning. I was too sick to drive and my husband was in Italy at the time, so I missed her funeral. Nevertheless, I am at peace with her passing, knowing that I did all that I could to let her know that I had buried our torrential past and was there for her.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I think of her, wishing her well. I hope she found peace before her death and I do hope she knew that I did love her. Regardless of our history together, I fully believe that not all women should become mothers. My mother was one of them who shouldn’t have, but I cannot look back wishing to change things that were out of my control. All I can do is to thank my mother for giving me life. I hope and pray that deep inside her heart she found a small way to be proud of me. Happy Mother’s Day, and may your Mother’s Day be enriched with the love of your family.