Looking back now, I can see that my family growing up has been much more sentimental then my husband’s family (who’s native language, sarcasm, was an abrupt learning curve for me in my early years of dating my husband). We also made the obvious conclusion that my family has been full of . . . girls. In fact, looking back into my mom’s family history, it’s quite depressing that most of the men, generation after generation, left their wives and children either from alcohol, depression or just died. The women outlived their husbands, brothers and fathers by decades. I have an older sister, girl cousins, only aunts growing up that I knew and for the past 2 decades, visited my Grandmothers, Grandfathers passed away already. I even have 2 nieces–my sister has 2 girls.
My poor dad, my sister and I joke now, how did he do it?! Without any male influence or camaraderie my entire life, I never knew what that might mean until I met my husband and now look back at over 19 years of my life spent with his family. He has both a brother and a sister, boy and girl cousins, and grew up with a very strong male presence — his dad was a very involved father, a grandfather he knew and uncles that were just like his dad – all the joking, the stores, the teasing and the sarcastic remarks! It was a rude awakening — this new male world was full of farts, belches, crude jokes and ruthless sarcastic teasing.
But I knew, that weird mother’s intuition, that I would have a son one day. And for the 3 years before I even got pregnant, I felt a boy’s presence whenever I thought of becoming a mom. I just knew he was out there and I just needed to pray for the best timing to finally meet him.
But when it was actually “official” that I was pregnant with a boy, it still was a little eerie. My side of the family was ecstatic! A new adventure! But could I really raise a son? I had no mentor, no woman in my family that knew anything about raising a boy. And the one person that I could have related to (my mother-in-law), she passed away two years before. That would’ve been such a fun experience to hear all of her stories because she was a mother from a girl family too.
Now going back to my side of the family, we don’t share a lot of holiday traditions really or make a huge deal of birthdays or whatever. But what we seem to always do is find the most sentimental Hallmark-y that oozes super touch-feeley, gushy and over-the-top romantics that my husband just balks at like a 10 year old “ewwwww!”
So to be perfectly honest, I felt it was always a bit much until . . . I became a mother. Ah . . . I GET IT. TOTALLY and COMPLETELY. Nothing can put into words what it is actually like to be a mom. And nothing can allow me to articulate clearly how much I love my little boy. He is the light of my life, now and forever. It will never change I know that. I know he makes me crazy – even today, he was not the “angel” that is always is, driving me nuts at dinner, throwing spoons, crying, just learning the word, “no! no . . . noooooo . . . . !” But he gives me his “kissy” and now is just learning, “p-e-e-s-e?” melts your heart a million times over.
Therefore, the cards that I’ve chosen for my own mom I now finally really get. It’s the chance to say the un-sayable, to attempt to say how much mothers mean to us – a little more then just “I love you,” although that is important to say more too. The depth of love that mothers walk around with in their hearts, the unfailing openness, acceptance and confidence in their children, even in the face of hurt, pain or worry. I never realized when my sister always complained of worrying all the time about her kids (obviously she still does cause the oldest one now is 16, the youngest is 10 – my mom says it never stops!), it takes SO MUCH ENERGY! But even more so, the amount of absolute unconditional love that mothers have is 100x stronger than the worry and pain, takes a lot of energy too but it is worth it – so worth it.
So I must just pause and take this moment to reflect on my life as a new mother (last year was my first year experiencing Mother’s Day but my son was about 7 months old, so it was still a big whirl!), and all I feel is such a great privilege to have this special time with my son. It goes by in a blink of an eye. But all I feel is such gratitude, giving me the chance to be his mother.
And just to note, my absolutely unromantic and unsentimental husband pulled a fast one on me last year, giving me two-dozen roses, balloons and an awesome brunch with chocolate strawberries for dessert. I was surprised by the thoroughness of his planning since we don’t do anything for each other anymore (I know it’s pretty bad actually). But his response to going “overboard” for him was, “Hey. I believe in giving when well deserved, and being a mom is all about going 150% 24/7 – you work your ass off! I think that’s worth a rose or two. . . . ” That ladies and gentlemen is about as sentimental as my husband will get! But I believe every word of it! 🙂
To my mom, it is true, the more you grow older, the more you realize your parents are just people to, the more you forgive and the more you understand them, sympathize with them and remark on just how special they are to be your parents now that you understand what they went through for the past 30 years. Sincerely love you and grateful that you are my mom.
To my mother-in-law — God we miss you! But you were to me one of those rare best friends in the end. I wish I had been even more open and honest with you. I wish I could hear your stories now that I am experiencing motherhood. But the time we had together was so very special and you were to me a second mom in so many ways.
To my sister — you are incredible. I have no idea why your life has been so much more challenging than mine it would seem. But the boundless love and sincere empathy for humanity is astounding. You give of yourself so completely (sometimes without necessary boundaries – that’s where I come in! 🙂 but it is truly such an honor to have you as my sister. Your infinite love for your daughters is the foundation of your life and theirs. They know it, even when they seem to go through their challenges too, it is always, always there.