Posted by: reball | May 7, 2010

The Most Precious Gift

I’m so sorry I’ve abandoned you for so long!  I’ve been off trying to conquer the world…or at least the world I live in!  You know, the to-do list, the daily tasks that HAVE to be accomplished. 

I stopped to check my email a few minutes ago and received one from my oldest sister.  She’s someone who has always been in my corner.  Who is filled with advice and a lot of know how when it comes to surviving motherhood.  With three children of her own she’s had a lot of practice.  When she sends a message I definitely take the time to read it over.  I’m sure glad I did today!   I posted the story she sent below but first I want to share one more thing…

When I was pregnant with the boys I was one of those people who felt trapped and violated by other people touching my belly.  But, I came to feel comforted when my family would feel the boys kick.   It was something I was proud to be able to share with them.  I remember my sister telling me to remember each kick even though at the time I was in so much pain from them!  There’s not a lot of room for all those elbows and knees when there are two!  As I got nearer to the day they came into the world all I could think about was meeting my angels!  After, the boys were born Mr. G was in the NICU at another hospital.  It just happened to be Christmas Eve when M and I were released from the hospital.  My sister, left her own family and spent the evening driving us to see G and daddy.  I remember a question she asked me and it is one I will never forget!  She asked, “So, have you figured it out yet?”  I didn’t quite understand what it was that she was asking.  She responded with “That nothing else in this world will ever be as important as your babies!”  That’s the truth too!  There is nothing more important, more valuable, or more inspiring than my boys!  The feeling of those little arms wrapping around me is one that can brighten any mood! Being a Mother is THE most precious gift!  Remember your Mom this Mother’s Day! 

On Being Mom
by Anna Quindlen, 
Newsweek Columnist and Author

If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they ever
existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the black
button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow ringlets 
and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the lower lip that curled 
into an apostrophe above her chin. 

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I 
take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two 
taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books 
I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their
opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I
choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to
keep their doors closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food
from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the
bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within
each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now.
Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry 
and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown 
obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are 
battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages 
dust would rise like memories. 

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground 
taught me, and the well-meaning relations –what they taught me, was that 
they couldn’t really teach me very much at all. Raising children is
presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until
finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows
anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be
managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained
at 3, his sibling at 2. 

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his 
belly so that 
he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies 
were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death
syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and 
then soothing.

Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will
follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful
books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of
infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil 
for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat 
little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he 
developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last 
year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. 
He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were
made. They have all been enshrined in the, “Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of
Fame.” The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not
theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for
preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day
when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her
geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She
insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s
drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the
window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch
the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking? 

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing 
this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now 
that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. 

There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt 
in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish 
I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they 
sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not 
been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I
wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it
done a little less.

Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what
was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they
would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they
simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways 
that I back off and let them be. 

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was 
sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the 
three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to
excavate my essential humanity.

That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn
from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts
were….

 

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Responses

  1. Now you’re making ME cry! Love you! Happy Mother’s Day!


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