It’s my first Mother’s Day and I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on what it means to be a mom. It sounds so cliche to say that it’s the hardest but most rewarding job but I suppose it’s the most accurate way of describing what I feel. My life has changed so significantly over the last year. I have permanent circles under my eyes, I’ve foresaken my knowledge of superficial celebrity news, I no longer keep up with my favorite TV shows and I’ve actually canceled my Netflix account. Instead, I’ve watched Walker grow from a bag of wiggles to a little Cheerio-eating boy who reaches up and calls me Mama.
It’s been so much work and I can’t imagine doing it without Larry — someone to watch Walker when I need to shower, make dinner, or take a moment to read something that doesn’t involve infant development. You did it alone. When we were both young, I was five months old an you just 26, we embarked on the mother-daughter journey that was to define so much of our lives. I can’t imagine what it was like for you and we never talked about it. I took it for granted that you did what you had to do. But, boy, I didn’t know. Sheesh. What was it like moving across the country with a tiny baby (who, by all accounts, screamed the entire plane trip from San Francisco to Cincinnati) and start a new life? We moved a lot, just the two of us, and it made us so close. We were best friends and we had so much fun exploring new places and trying new things. It was always so much more fun because we were together.
But that is my memory. We have never talked about what you felt. Intellectually, I always knew it was hard. But in the last year, I have gotten a greater appreciation of just how darn difficult it must have been. I mean, simply getting groceries with a little person who flops around from side to side because she can’t sit up straight must have been just the beginning of the challenges you faced.
I gave you such grief as a teenager. And I’m sorry about that. It was tough for both of us being away from friends and family and adding the teacher/student relationship on top of everything else. It’s the natural progression for children to test the boundaries of their parents (which I did at every opportunity) and I was oblivious to how it impacted you. Now, upon reflection, it must have been so difficult not sharing the responsibility with a partner or even just commiserating with someone about my insolence or the latest test to your authority.
And finally, I apologize for haranguing you about what is now one of my favorite activities. Often, when snoozing away a Saturday morning, I would awake to find you sitting in my room and watching me sleep. “Cut it out!” I’d demand. “It’s creepy and strange,” I’d continue. But now I understand. There’s something about watching your child peacefully slumber. I can imagine when Walker is older, and I sneak into his room to watch him snooze for a few moments, I’ll see the small, innocent child who has so much ahead of him and any challenges, worries, and fatigue will melt away for that instant.
Mommy, you are beautiful, intelligent and kind. You taught me to appreciate life, family, and the simple things. Despite our similarities, our lives are so different. I could never have a conversation about the themes of Shakespeare and you never can understand what I do with computers. Life has thrown you so many challenges and you’ve fought so hard to overcome them. Although I may not have always shown it, I have the greatest respect for you. However, in the last few months, my appreciation for your strength has deepened.
On this, my first Mother’s Day, I want to thank you for being my friend, my protector, my teacher, and my Mommy. I hope I will be able to be as much of an inspiration to my family as you are to me.
Happy Mother’s Day.