Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

First, let me say this. I know Mother's Day is hard for a lot of people, including some very dear friends of mine. Whether it's because they have lost their mom or they have a strained relationship with their mother, or because they are struggling with fertility issues, or waiting for adoptions to go through, or mourning the loss of a child via miscarriage...or really any other number of issues on this being a mother/having a mother/becoming a mother spectrum. I want to take a minute and acknowledge those women, because this day holds pain or hurt and it's so easy to feel "less-than" or broken or left out when the stores and commercials and all of social media is swirling with picture-perfect mother/child relationships. I want you to know that I'm writing about my mom and my mother-in-law and my experience becoming a mom...but that I don't forget you or ignore your story. I know this day isn't wonderful and full for so many people. And that's ok. My intent is not to make you feel left-out or less-than or to rub salt in your wound. Your story is your story, and I respect and honor that. I am simply telling my story. And I want you to know there is no magical happiness or completeness  or perfection that comes from being a mother or having a strong relationship with your mother/mother-in-law. Don't ever let any pictures or articles or blog posts make you feel like you're missing out on something secret and exclusive. Everyone is on their own journey and times of joy and sorrow come and go for everyone. Just because someone else is in a season of joy doesn't mean that there will be less joy for you.

One of my favorite teachers in high school said about becoming a mom: When you have a baby you will call your mom in tears one day and apologize for every terrible thing you did or said because you will finally realize that all of things you have to do for your baby, she did for you.

Yes.

When you have a child, I think you have an even greater appreciation for you parents. You understand just a little bit more clearly the love and the fear and the joy and the pain that they have felt. And when I say "a little bit", I mean a TINY bit. We're only 14 weeks in. Our parents have been doing this for 30 years. So today, I want to take a minute to honor my mom and my husband's mom, and then jot down a few thoughts about being a mom.

To my mom: Happy Mother's Day. Thank you for being an amazing mom. Thank you for changing my diapers and rocking me to sleep. For disciplining me. For cheering me on. For letting me cry. For knowing what is truly important and passing that on to me. For letting me stay home from school when you sensed a "personal day" was just what I needed. For prodding me when I needed prodding. For giving me space when I needed space. For coming to Germany to spend 3 weeks with me as I adjusted to life with a newborn. For being an incredible Oma. For changing our daughter's diapers and rocking her to sleep. I hope that I can be half the mother to Zoe (and our future kids) that you have been to me. I would consider that a huge success.

To my mother-in-law: Happy Mother's Day. Thank you for being an amazing mom to Zach and a wonderful mother-in-law to me. I know the stigma that comes with "mother-in-lawing". But you break that mold. You are encouraging and loving and fun and accepting. You're what every mother-in-law should be (and I will try my hardest to keep this in mind when our children get married one day. I don't think it's an easy job, this mother-in-law thing. But you certainly make it look easy). Thank you for how you raised your son. And for how you have graciously and without criticism allowed me to love him and care for him. Thank you for being an amazing Mimi. I am so happy Zoe (and our future kids) have you as a grandmother.

On my 1st Mother's Day: I kind of worried that becoming a mom would fundamentally change who I was. It is a pleasant surprise to find that is just not true. But at the same time, my life has completely changed. I told a dear friend recently that I didn't have the thought "I love being a mom" until Zoe was about 8 weeks old. I loved and adored Zoe from the minute we met her (even before that, really), but it was a very clear moment when I finally had the thought "I really love this gig." I was changing Zoe's diaper, which is where all "I love this" revelations probably DON'T happen. But she was being fat and squishy and smiley and adorable. And I realized I loved being her mom. That was a revelation to me and a relief. I hadn't consciously NOT loved being a mom, but I was mostly just trying to survive and wondering why no one tells you how hard those first weeks are and why everyone just gushes about "that moment you become a mommy" and I'm over here like "help. Just help." There was no room for basking in the "I'm a mom and I love it" moment. It took a while for me to have that moment. But I do. I love it. I am terrified, but I love it. I love everything about that little baby. I love her cries and how I know when she's just making noise or when she really needs to be rescued. I love that she's started to laugh and I will do ANYTHING to get a good belly laugh out of her. I feel like my entire day is 100% completely wonderful when she laughs. I love that her personality is starting to show and I can hardly wait to see who she becomes. I love that, even though there will hopefully be more babies in the future, she is the baby that made me a mama. I love that she's a little bit of me and a little bit of Z. I love being a mom. And I'm writing this down so I can reread it one day when Zoe is driving me nuts or is being a teenage girl.

So there we go. A celebration of moms and being a mom. Happy Mother's Day.

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