“You won’t understand how much I love you until you have a child of your own.”
My mother said that to me all the time when I was growing up. “Yeah, yeah. Right. Sure. Whatever.” It was the kind of statement that became white noise I didn’t even hear anymore. I didn’t hear it, until, that is, one night when my son was no more than four months old.
I made the new mother mistake of using the cheap disposable diapers at night. (Use those during the day only, mommies. Use the expensive ones at night – they don’t leak.) At some gawd-awful hour, I heard my baby in his crib beginning to fuss a little. His diaper, his onesie and one end of his sheet were all wet. I changed and cleaned him, put him in some fresh clothes, then changed his sheet.
Now, here’s the thing. There was plenty of dry sheet on the other end of that crib. I could have put him down there, he wouldn’t have moved to the wet area and I could have gotten back to sleep faster. But, I wanted him to have a clean sheet. I loved my baby and wanted him to have even more comfort available to him than he would know.
And I thought of my mother’s statement.
At that moment, I began to understand. I began to understand doing things for my son’s comfort and welfare that he would never know about. I would do those things not because they were required, but because I loved him.
Now that he is a man, he is faced with some decisions that are difficult, but necessary. As a mother, I want to make those decisions for him, take the consequences and make things more comfortable for him. But that isn’t my job now, is it?
When he was a toddler, he had to fall if he was to learn to walk. It wasn’t my job to carry him then and it isn’t my job to carry him now. He will fall. But, eventually, he will walk and he will run. My job is to let him do that.
Motherhood has been just a series of surprises for me. From finding out that I was going to be a mother to learning that they really were going to let me leave the hospital with him to figuring out that motherhood is really all about making myself obsolete – it’s been just one unexpected thing after another…..and one joy, one heartache, one success and one failure after another.
There are many things in my life I might do differently if I had the opportunity to do them over; however, if any of those changes lead to life without him, I’d take a pass.
To the son who makes me a mother on this Mothers’ Day – thank you for putting up with me as I learned to be a mother. Thank you for your patience, your resilience and your love. You deserved someone much better than I; but, we did okay, didn’t we? I love you.