This is our first Mother’s Day without you. It’s crazy getting through all these firsts. It’s kind of weird and hard and awkward. I miss you today – not in a bad way, but there is still that feeling that something isn’t right. That there is something missing.
Anyway, I wanted to write to you a letter today to let you know how I feel. I wish I could have expressed all of this in a better way when you were here. I hope you knew how I feel.
This Mom stuff is crazy, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone really appreciates their mom until they are a mom too. You never know all the feelings that go into it and the big wide world that motherhood opens up. I know I didn’t fully appreciate you until I had my boy.
I didn’t know about the laying awake at night listening for your newborn to cough or call out for you. Going in to check if they are still covered, if they are comfortable, if their chest is still rising and falling. I didn’t know that the first time he slept more than 3 hours I would dash out of bed in a panic, sure something horrible was wrong. I didn’t know about how special those 3 am times alone could be, looking in each other’s eyes, nourishing my child, feeling his skin on mine. His little hand holding my fingers – nothing but us two and the silence of the sleeping world around us.
I didn’t know that as he grew I would notice every single change. That when he started staring at his fist I would know he was realizing it was his, that when he started kicking his feet in the bath I would know he was realizing that HE was making the water move. I never knew how magical these little moments were.
I didn’t know that every hurt, cry, growing experience would hurt me as much as it hurt him. That when his teeth started coming in I would wish I could just take that pain away, that when he started walking and knocked his head on too many things that I would hurt for him and wish he could just fall TOWARDS the carpet instead of the wall or chair. But also know that I couldn’t stop him from falling, because it is in the falling and the getting back up that we really learn to walk. Such is life. Falling and getting back up. Falling, getting back up.
I never knew that every time he felt badly I would too. That when some kid on the playground pushed him down I would want to push them back. I didn’t know that every time he came home saying someone at preschool or kindergarten hurt his feelings my heart would just break too. That I would actually be angry at another small child. I didn’t know that every time he made a bad decision and felt guilty and ashamed that I would want to just erase those feelings and tell him that he was perfect just the way he was. Instead I helped him think about how to choose better next time, because that’s what moms do. We forgive so easily and yet still have to find a way to help our child grow. I never knew that when he was so mad he wanted to “kick the other person in the penis” that I would think “I think you should”, but instead talk about another more appropriate way to express anger. I never knew that when he called another kid a jerk or an a**hole that I would giggle a little, secretly agree with him, and then help him find better words to use. (ps, I don’t know where he learned that word, I swear. Or where I learned to flip people off. LOL)
I never knew that watching him struggle would be so frustrating and painful for me. I never knew that having a child that doesn’t fit into society’s exact definition of “normal” would be so stressful. That you don’t want to change them, to take away what makes them so beautiful, but that you want to help them be their best selves and it’s so much harder when there are obstacles. That you just wish society and the school system and the lady at the grocery store looking down her nose at your son throwing a fit would just shut their big fat pie holes and let your kid be himself. No, he’s not perfect. That’s ok. neither are you lady at the grocery store. (PS, no one with that much makeup and fake hair should be looking down her nose at anyone. Anywhere.)
I know how you must have felt now. It amazes me that you went through it with 4 of us – all so different, all with different problems and strengths. I know that it must have really been hard to see us grow and change and slowly detach ourselves from you. I know that it feels like part of your body is moving away from you – that part of your heart slowly gets pulled out of your chest. Not necessarily painful, but somewhat sad and difficult to allow to happen. I know that it must have been really hard to see us make bad decisions and go down paths that you wouldn’t wish for us (mostly me) and that all you wanted was to show us that we didn’t have to do that – that there was better out there for us. But being a mom means letting your kids make those bad decisions. You can only give so much advice and you can’t live their lives for them.
I know now how happy you must have been when we graduated, found love, had children, called with happiness to tell you the lovely things.
I understand now that you felt like a part of you was out in the world doing it’s own thing, and that you could never really stop thinking of us and worrying for us. I understand how proud you were of our accomplishments and how in awe you were of the people we had inside us from the start.
I know now how hard the job of molding and teaching and guiding another person is. How you question every single thing you do and how you try not to do that. How you wonder what you are doing wrong some days and if you ever do anything right. I know how it feels when your kid licks the conveyor belt at the grocery store, or sticks their hands in their diapers, or topples over your favorite plant. How it feels when they scream they hate you and kick and punch at you and you just have to walk away (and you never get upset by their words because you know better). How it feels to hear your son say mean mean things to another child and wonder where that hatred or anger could possibly come from. And how to harness and guide that energy. I know how it feels to have the teacher tell you that he isn’t getting along with classmates or that he follows another kid around apologizing for something that happened 4 months ago and can’t just move on and play with someone else. I know how it feels to hold your baby down for shots of blood work or medicine. I know how it feels to have puke in your hair and your bed and your carpet and your bathroom and every spare set of sheets you can find, so you just try to wrap blankets on the bed while you try to get a load of laundry in between the puking. And yet, all you can think about is how your baby is hurting, not your needs. I know how it feels when all you want is to Pee. By. Yourself. Or sleep through a night – because you haven’t in 4 years. And you think you might be starting to go crazy because of it. (except you probably already cracked a long time ago)
AND I know how it feels when your brand newborn baby still covered in afterbirth grabs your finger with both hands and looks at you. I know how it feels to see that toothless wonderful grin. I know how it feels to watch them eat and walk and run and climb stairs and learn about sand (and scoop it out of their mouth) and make friends and play with toys and go to school. I know how moms watch with wonder as their child learns his letters and how to read and how to do math. It’s wonderful. Truly full of wonder. I know how it feels to have your 6 year old go get the present he made you at school (that you wrapped up for him) and give it to you and scream “Happy Mother’s Day Mama! You are the best Mom EVER!!!!” I know how so many amazing incredible things feel. How did I live before all of this?
Thank you mom.
Thank you for all the broken heart times, all the sick times, all the holding my hand times, all the happy times, all of the proud times, all of the sad times, all of the painful times.
Thank you for all of it.
Most of all, thank you for all you gave me. I can’t list it all. Can’t even begin. But I feel it. It’s here in my heart – all of it.
I love you. My boy loves you. My brothers and their families and so many more love you.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom.