written by Kathy Glow
Today marks my ninth “official” Mother’s Day. I delight in all the little projects the boys bring home from school for me, but the only gift I ask for is time away from the kitchen. So we go out for a wonderful brunch, and my husband either grills or we get take out for dinner. He prompts the boys to pick out cards and flowers for me, and it turns out to be a lovely day. It has become somewhat of a tradition, one I will remember with fondness.
But there are also other Mother’s Days I will remember for entirely different reasons.
Like my very first “unofficial” one in 2003, The One on Which I Wasn’t a Mother…Yet. After getting married in 2001, I was eager to start having babies immediately. Instead we faced months of negative pregnancy tests and temperature charts. I had finally taken the fertility drug Clomid and gotten
pregnant. To my delight, I was due on Mother’s Day! Sadly, though, I miscarried that baby; and it was all I could think about when Mother’s Day rolled around, and I still wasn’t pregnant. I couldn’t stop wondering what she would look like and how it would feel to hold her and wondering if I was ever going to get to celebrate this day as a mother.
A week later, I learned I was pregnant, and I began dreaming of the next Mother’s Day.
In 2004, I was busy with two beautiful baby boys. I don’t honestly remember much about that Mother’s Day because it was The One on Which My Baby Was Recovering from Surgery. One of my twins was born with a cleft lip and palate, and in May, at four months old, he was ready for his lip repair. Jack
failed to resume breathing on his own after surgery, so he had to stay in the hospital for five extra days.
That week, I was making trips back and forth to the hospital with Joey. I was exhausted and just wishing I could have both my babies at home.
In 2006, The One on Which I Was Counting Down, we were living in New York, and I was eager to return home. I missed holidays and special occasions with my family, and Hubby was often on 24-hour call while I was at home with three babies under the age of three. My parents had flown to New York to help with the boys, as Jack had another surgery to revise his repaired lip, palate and nose. I loved having them there; but regardless, I was counting the days until our two-year stint would end, and we would go back home to Omaha and to family.
Skip to 2009, The One on Which My Son Had Terminal Cancer. That one, needless to say, I will never forget. I was choking back tears all day long. Joey was diagnosed less than three weeks before. I struggled through tears to pose for pictures wondering if it would be my last Mother’s Day with him.
Ironically, the pictures all came out fuzzy and blurred, a fitting metaphor for how my heart was feeling that day.
2010 was The One on Which I Was Holding My Breath. Joey was still with us, but he was weak and bloated and fragile. I knew with certainty that this would be my last Mother’s Day with him, and I desperately tried to drink in everything about that day.
Last year, The One Without Joey, was hard. I was smiling for pictures with only three of my sons, while another unexpected one was growing inside me. I was sad and confused, unsure of what my next Mother’s Day would bring.
This year, I think I will call The One on Which I Learn What it Means to Be A Mother. You see, way back in 2003, I thought when I became a mother, life would be everything I had always dreamed it would be.
I’d have a happy little family, full of laughter and fun and good times. I was sure I would be such a good mom that any little obstacle that would arise would be surmountable.
What I never foresaw was that sometimes heartache comes with being a mother. Heartache that takes so many different forms, whether it be infertility or a baby born with a birth defect. Whether it is an illness or accident that befalls your child or something as unthinkable as their death.
I took a vow when I married my true love, “…for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.” I took no such vow when I became a mother, yet the words fit the job.
I’ve always said that motherhood is the hardest job you’ll ever love. I love being a mom. I love it so much that it hurts, and I think every mother I know would say the same thing. We were made no promises, no guarantees that it would be easy. Unfortunately, along with loving our children so completely, so unconditionally, so whole-heartedly, comes heartache and doubt and fear, most of which we never see coming. It’s what we signed on for when we took the job.
But the perks of the mom job are amazing! Endless hugs and wet, sloppy kisses. Handmade trinkets and crafts. The music of ‘I love you’ and ‘you look pretty’ and ‘mommy I need you.’ Cuddling with a sweet smelling little person fresh out of the bathtub. The pride that bursts from our hearts and the laughter we can’t contain. The knowledge that I am the mom, and I shaped these amazing people with my love.
Today I know that being a mom means we relish in the good and mourn the sad and do it all with grace and love. Every experience with our children shapes who we are as mothers. I know that just as I have shaped my children, they have shaped my heart and will reside with me forever.