Just 6 days until one of my very favorite holidays – Mother’s Day. It’s not my favorite for the reasons some might think. While I enjoy thoughtful gifts, some relaxation, and extra appreciation just as much as the next person, these are not what make the day most special for me. For me, Mother’s Day is the day to celebrate my most important transformation – becoming a mother. To me, it was the day I was born, and the start of my true purpose and meaning. Motherhood has shaped me into the person I am and will continue to grow to be.
When I was in my early 20s, my mission in life was to NOT get married until I was at least 40 (because I was sure if I married before then, I’d end up divorced and marrying the person I’m really supposed to marry during my 40s), and definitely to never have children. I wanted to maybe adopt someday, to love and nurture a child who needed a mom, but I was certain that bringing more lives into this harsh world was not something I wanted to be part of. My world, at that time, was a dark and ugly place that I had somehow gotten myself stuck into with no hope of ever getting out. I had almost completely surrounded myself with selfish, cruel, uncaring people. I had no desire to subject a child to the kind of hopelessness and negativity I felt was just simply inevitable.
When I met my husband a few years later, things changed quite a bit. He showed me kindness, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, and love. It felt like a foreign concept and took me quite some time to accept and embrace. We were married for 3 years, a happily childless couple (for now – we did have dreams and plans for having a family together, at some point), when we got pregnant, the first time. To be honest, I remember feeling really scared, like I wasn’t ready. We smoked like chimneys back then, and we drank quite a bit – we had fun together but not in what I considered a ‘parent’ kind of way, and I was unsure of my physical ability to quit my bad habits and my mental/emotional capacity to skillfully and lovingly mother a child. After just a few weeks of grappling with all of the emotions and thoughts that had overcome me, and one solid week of quitting smoking, my chance for mothering that baby was ripped away when I miscarried. I realized during the time at the hospital and the weeks following, that I’d wanted to be a mom more than I even realized. My heart was broken into a million little pieces that seemed to just float around in the emptiness I felt inside. During the course of the following months, we successfully became pregnant 2 more times, both ending in miscarriage. Going through this emotional and physical anguish 3 times in 1 year was devastating. I can honestly say by the third time, I was on the brink of some kind of breakdown. I don’t think that I ever had adequate time to deal with the sadness, anger, frustration, and confusion – let alone the mess my drastically fluctuating hormones were adding to the mix – and all of it took its toll.
By that point, I had pretty much given up on changing my ways. It all seemed pointless, really. I mean, the only reason I had quit those habits in the first place was so I could be a mom, and that just didn’t seem to be in the cards. Somehow jumping back into my self-destructive habits felt like a comfortable place to ‘escape’ to. A few months went by and my husband and I were still reeling. I had turned all of my ‘sober’ attention toward researching, trying to figure out what was wrong with me that the miscarriages continued to happen. I’d seen several doctors, all of whom were content to tell me that “it’s very common – just one of those things that happens,” but I was not ready to accept that answer. I requested all the tests I could find to get to the cause, so we could fix it. I never was able to get an answer, and I started to feel that there was no solution – maybe I just wasn’t meant to be a mom, after all.
Then, in May of 2005, right after my husband had left for Coast Guard training cross-country, I found out I was pregnant again. The voice of logic tried to step in, remind me not to get too excited. I wasn’t sure I’d have the strength to try again if this baby was taken from us also. But something felt different this time. I couldn’t squelch my excitement, as much as I tried. I didn’t share my news with anyone until Donnie came home from training. He had to be the first to know, and I wasn’t going to tell him over the phone…
Fast forward a year, and there I was, my first Mother’s Day as a MOTHER! For whatever reason we will probably never understand, our 4th pregnancy was finally successfully carried to term. We’d had our first baby in February, a healthy baby boy! My life, my world, just about everything about me changed for the better when he was born. My outlook was different. My priorities were different. I was given this gift, this little tiny person who depended on me to be whole, giving, nurturing, loving, present. I suddenly felt this urgent need to be healthier, take better care of myself, so I’d be better able to care for my son. I was struck with the realization that adopting habits that would contribute to my longevity and energy was crucial, and that improving my vitality was not only my responsibility but also within my power!
Four years later, we were blessed with another healthy baby, our daughter. I honestly can’t think of an adequate word to describe the gratitude I feel to be able to be part of my children’s lives. The thankfulness I feel to have been given this chance at motherhood, something I thought, at times, might never happen for me. The gratitude I feel for this experience that has required me to make changes to better myself, in order to be better for them. The passion they have given me to be an example of healthy habits, in order to best care for them and also to make those habits a normal way of life for their health and for the good of future generations.
As my children grow, I have to admit, there are times when frustration or impatience get the better of me. Like probably most mothers, I catch myself taking the smallest things for granted, then reminding myself to stop and really revel in the awe of my children’s innocence and imagination. The light in their eyes. The fire in their spirits. The joy in their laughter.
I love Mother’s Day because it is a day to be extra thankful for being given the privilege of motherhood. I get to spend my time with the two most amazing people in the world, who motivate and inspire me to be my best and do my best, who have given my life passion and purpose I never knew before, and they call me ‘mom.’
I would love to hear your thoughts about Mother’s Day. What have you learned most about yourself since becoming a mother? What gifts of motherhood do you appreciate most?
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