When you hear those three little words from your physician, “Congratulations! You’re pregnant!” you have absolutely no freaking idea what you have just gotten yourself into. Admit it – you know I’m right! Did you honestly think about the ramifications of becoming a MOTHER when you heard those words? Hell no! You were either overjoyed and about ready to split your face open from grinning so hard or you sat there in a state of shock and ready to cry because it was totally not what you were expecting.
Either way, a mother you became, and so your journey began. You learned how to change diapers, you learned the difference between bottle feeding and breast-feeding, you learned when to feed your child solid foods, and you learned when your child was hungry, tired, sick, and happy. Some of this came naturally, some not so much. But you made it through those first few milestones and thought you had the world in your hands. You were the best mom ever, right?
You spent endless nights sitting up with a sick child, holding them while they cried, spending hours on end reading all sorts of parenting magazines and books to be the best parent you could be.
Then came the school years. The endless struggles to do homework, perhaps a diagnosis of a disability, behavior issues, squabbles with a friend who overnight became an enemy because of a misspoken word or a hurtful deed. The transition from a child to a teen and then to a young adult. You dealt with boyfriends and girlfriends, parties and online social media. You dealt with PTA meetings, principal meetings, band practice, choir practice, after school clubs, sports events and tryouts, boy scouts and girl scouts, ballet and karate.
Somewhere during that time period – and it has happened to us all – you look down upon your child, so peaceful and still at the moment, resting in blessed slumber and it hits you. Like a ton of bricks falling off the back of a truck on to your head.
You – and you alone – are responsible for this little person for the rest of your life. YOU are responsible for raising them to be loving, kind, compassionate human beings. YOU are responsible for teaching them how to deal with the issues in our society, how to manage their money, how to raise their own families, how to take care of their bodies, how to clean their homes, how to wash their clothing, how to change the oil in the car and rotate the tires.
As your child grows and develops and goes through life, they fight you – on so many levels – and its exhausting. Sometimes you just want to jump off the merry-go-round that is motherhood and say, “I can’t do this anymore!” and just run and hide.
But you continue on, each day bringing a new sense of purpose and determination and resolve to raise your children into being responsible, reliable, capable, compassionate and loving adults. For what legacy do we have to leave this world, other than our children?
Yet even through all the uncertainty, all the drama, all the fighting and defiance – there are moments interspersed throughout their lives that are absolutely priceless. These are the memories that we as parents cherish and hold on to. What we will remember in our twilight years, for they will be forever embedded into our memories and hearts.
The first art project from school. That first smile. Losing their first tooth. Their first romance (and next break up). Their first steps. Their first day of school. The breakfasts in bed that they cooked all by themselves. The hugs. The laughter. That first “A” on their report card that they are so proud of. Their first driver’s license. Their first car.
Life is filled with so many firsts as a mother – regardless of how many children you have. For each child is different, their own little person – and the experience of being a mother to that child is never the same as it was with another child.
We build relationships with our mothers that cannot be understood by any other. There is a bond between a mother and a child that transcends the test of time and space. It is unbreakable, it is unwavering, it is always present – even if you cannot see it.
All too quickly, this little person that you gave birth to, that you worried over, cried over, lost sleep over, laughed with and would lay your life down for, is suddenly an adult. They are graduating and going off to college or moving out and starting their life as a young adult. On their own. Without you.
And you feel the loss deep down in your soul. It is akin to losing a limb that you have had all of your life – an extension of yourself – that is suddenly lost. Gone. No longer there, even though you still feel as though it is attached. You have spent the past eighteen years (or more) of your life with this person who is suddenly no longer going to be a part of your every waking moment.
It is a loss that most mothers have a difficult time coming to terms with.
But eventually, you do – and you are happy for the child that you have raised, who has spread their wings and ventured into the world on their own to begin their quest, to conquer the world and become anything that they choose to be.
For as that child you so lovingly raised grows into adulthood and spreads their wings to fly on their own, you are given a glimpse of the little person that you brought into this world, that you molded and shaped into the young adult before you.
So Mothers of the world, enjoy your special day today. You’ve dedicated hundreds of hours, sacrificed so much of yourself and your dreams, to raise the children of the world. Know that you are LOVED, you are CHERISHED, you are RESPECTED, and you are NOT forgotten.