After we welcomed my first baby—my daughter, your first grandchild—into the world, I was so overwhelmed with sudden and blindly apparent awe and appreciation of all you’ve done for me.
In the first few weeks of her arrival, I had flashbacks and vivid memories of times you held me, comforted me, and supported me . . . of times you taught things to me, listened to me, and just loved me. I couldn’t imagine possibly living up to the standard you set.
I wondered how in the world I would be able to raise my little girl in this world we live in without entirely messing things up. I asked you how you did it. I demanded an answer to my desperate question: how did you know how to be such a good mom?
I didn’t, I just loved you with all my heart. Your response was simple, but the words felt like a gentle scoot from the wind whispering encouragement and a gentle breeze of possibility: “Surely I can do that for my children,” I thought. At a time when motherhood was just descending upon me and I often walked in circles of self-doubt, I held on to that little nugget for dear life. When my baby cried and I wasn’t sure what to do, I repeated it. When I felt confused or anxious (multiple times a day), I repeated it. When I felt too exhausted or depleted to make a coherent decision, I repeated it.
And now, my daughter is almost three and my son is almost one. With each passing day, her little personality buds like a blooming flower reaching for the sun and he is acquiring skills at the speed of a shooting star. I am afraid to blink. I might miss something she says with her tiny yet powerful little voice or something he does with his curious, growing mind and exploring little body.
The time is going so fast that it frightens me. It makes me so sad, almost depressed at times, to think that the days of them both fitting perfectly on my lap with my arms wrapped around them are nearing an end.
As much as I want them to grow and flow out into this world as their own independently shining souls, I wonder how my role in their lives will change throughout the years. I expect an ebb and flow, I know changes will inevitably fall upon us as time goes by, but I don’t want this time to end—and if I am honest, I am afraid. Sure, I am worn and torn by the end of most days, but I fear losing this feeling of being needed by my babies.
But then, I think of you, Mom, and I realize that the role a mother plays—a mother like you—never quite changes as the years go by.
I think of how I don’t go a day—no, an hour—without texting or calling you with a question, with a problem, with a plea for help. And I think of how you always answer, you always make me feel better, you always refocus me so I am headed in the right direction again.
I think of how I look to you to see how you talk and engage with my children, how I listen to the words you say when you communicate with me, how I learn from the actions you take when you spend time with us.
I think of how you fill up my emotional cup every single day, sometimes a few times a day, when everyone else in my life is drinking from it.
I think of how you literally give me the clothes off of your back, how you ask how you can help me on a daily basis, and how you rearrange your own life constantly just to make mine easier.
I think of how you brush my hair for me when I am holding a crying child of my own.
I think of how you look at me and tell me I am beautiful when I haven’t showered in days or exercised in weeks.
I think of how you tell me I am doing a great job even though most days I feel like I am failing left and right.
I think of how you bring me food, offer to do my laundry, look after my children and willingly take them to school and to the doctor when I need you to.
I think of how you make me laugh and listen to me cry . . . how you keep my secrets safe and keep my head sane.
I think of how now, more than any other time I can remember, I need you, Mom, and I realize you’re still doing it . . . you are still such a good mom . . . and you are still loving me with all of your heart.
And, my goodness am I grateful for that!
My goodness, am I grateful for you.
I couldn’t do what I do every day and every night without your love and support holding me up. I know you are still my number one fan and that if my life were a Broadway show, you’d be my spotlight, shining steady and bright, never leaving me in the shadows even on the days I am unable to deliver my best performance.
It is our beautiful relationship, my connection with you now, as an adult, that also gives me hope. I know now that if I do what you did, if I love my children with all of my heart, there is a pretty good chance that when they’re adults, they will still need me, too . . . the way I need you.
It will be a different kind of “need” than the kind it is now, but it will be an important, bittersweet, and beautiful kind of need, for certain.