Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thoughts on Mother's Day

In two hours, I’ll be able to say I survived another Mother's Day without my own. For the first time in the four Mother's Days since she’s been gone, I had to acknowledge the holiday.

In years past, I’ve gone through all the obligatory motions: remind my husband to get a card for his mother, wish friends with children a happy day, and attend a Mother's Day meal with my mom’s family to honor my grandmother. Not that she doesn’t deserve to be honored – she’s an incredible woman and I love her very much. But sitting at that table always leaves me feeling a little empty. Z and I sit across from each other, shifting uncomfortably from time to time, barely making eye contact, and I know we’re thinking the same thing.

She’s not here.

I’ve spent the last few Mother's Days primarily in bed, cycling through various stages of grief that should’ve passed years ago. I’d leave the house to take T’s mom to dinner or visit briefly with my grandma, but then I’d come home and retreat to bed again. I’d like the million Facebook statuses that show up about fantastic mothers and would keep my jealous thoughts to myself. And then, finally, the day would end and I’d close my eyes, grateful for it to be over.

Then I became a mother. There’s no lying in bed moping all day with a six month old in the house… apparently, it’s not conducive to their schedules. There’s getting up at 7, feeding, playing, crawling, napping, bathing, dressing, smiling, giggling, and that’s all before 10.

T asked me the other day what I would do if my mom came back for 24 hours. The thought of that was enough to break me down, and I cried. I finally managed to choke out an answer – the first thing that came to mind because I don’t typically let myself think about things like that.  I’d hand her E, and then I’d lay my head in her lap and just breathe. I’d take in every minute and pay attention to how it felt, because it would be THE moment in my life when I could say, “I have it all.”

I’ve always had a lot; my blessings in life have been many. However, I now know the greatest blessing, and that’s my child. E has brought so much joy into my life in her six months here. I feel as though I can finally understand my mom’s love for Zach and me, and it’s overwhelming.

As I lay here typing while leaning on T, I ask him when this will get easier. He tells me he’s not sure, but maybe someday. We both know it’s always going to hurt, although we don’t say so.  In spite of the tears that keep falling, I feel optimistic. Instead of feeling a little like an orphaned child today, I felt the love of my daughter. Instead of feeling like I was floating, I felt anchored.

Mother's Day as a child without my mother is painful, but Mother's Day as a mother with my child is incredible. It’s amazing what a baby’s smile can do.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letter to Bean #1

Dear Bean,

It’s been nearly five months since you came into this world, and I am still overwhelmed daily by how much I love you.

You’re rolling over regularly now. Starting to sit up. Seemingly desperate to stand. And as excited as I am for you to reach these milestones, I want time to slow down. I want to kiss those chubby cheeks and rub the top of your head where your hair is starting to grow, and savor every peaceful moment I have with you. Do your days fly by as mine do? Time moves so quickly, and although I pray we have decades upon decades together, I know that even decades are short. And I want to remember every detail of your incredible life.

My love for you is rivaled only by my love for your father. I suspect your arrival made his life complete in a way my existence never could, and I love that. He was wonderful to begin with, but your presence in our home has changed him in all the greatest ways. I fall in love with him every time he smiles at you. 

Did you know I spend an unbelievable amount of time looking at your photos during the work day? When I start to worry about how I handled something or meeting a deadline, one glance at your face is all I need to put things in perspective. If our family is safe, there’s nothing else that really warrants that much nervous energy.

Can you feel how loved you are when you’re with your grandparents? You’re very lucky to have two grandpas and a grandma who would give up anything to make you happy, would do anything to see your smile. The only grandparent I grew up with was my mother’s mother. The only grandparent you’ll never know is your mother’s mother. It breaks my heart that you won't know firsthand how remarkable your Grandma Terri was. So, I’ll continue to look into your bright blue eyes – the same blue as hers – and tell you about her.

Our house has been overrun by exersaucers and swings, rock ’n plays and pack ’n plays. I’m getting used to tripping over your activity mat and spot-cleaning your Sassy Pig. I’m no longer phased by spit-up or any of the other gross stuff parenthood has exposed me to. There’s no sugary sweet sentence coming here. This letter was getting too saccharine, and if you read this someday, I can’t have you thinking you weren’t just as gross as all the other kids.

I hope when you grow up that you’ll love your parents as much as I love(d) mine. Go through whatever awkward, my-parents-are-so-uncool phase you need to at age 12, so long as you fall asleep each night knowing we love you and you love us back (secretly, of course).

I hope you find something to do with your life that is as exciting to you then as your toes are to you now.

I hope you know I love you more today than anyone has ever loved anyone – until tomorrow, when I’ll wake up and realize I love you twice as much as the day before.