Originally posted in the Miami News-Record, May 10, 2015.
I spent my first Mother’s Day still mourning the loss of our first baby. I sat in my church pew that Sunday, overlooked by the folks passing out bookmarks and pins to those with babies in arms and children in pews, fighting back sobs at the emptiness inside me, the emptiness in my arms. It was my own mother who boldly left the pew and followed the man passing out the trinkets, informing him that her daughter had been overlooked. I have always loved my mother dearly, but that Sunday in 1995 I had a powerful adult realization: she was always going to look out for me, she was always going to stand up for me, she was always going to defend me.
Before Abby was born I remember thinking about how I was going to do everything “right”. I was armed with books, magazines, pamphlets, and all the latest information from Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s daytime TV show. And speaking of TV, I was only going to let her watch shows on PBS. She was going to be breast-fed until she was a year old. She was going to have the most adorable clothes and was always going to have that “baby smell”. The introduction of new foods was going to be done by following a strict chart provided by her pediatrician. She was going to have all of her immunizations on time. Her baby book was going to be one that other mothers would envy. And most of all I was going to protect her fiercely.
Then she got here and refused to nurse. She developed a case of reflux that rivaled something from The Exorcist. We went through every formula on the market and they all smelled bad, thus canceling out my dreams of perpetual “baby smell”. Her “smell” was baby barf with only underlying hints of Baby Magic. While I stuck with PBS shows as long as I could, I ended up crumbling under the pressure of Nick Jr. and she became obsessed with “Blue’s Clues”. She refused to eat any baby food that wasn’t a fruit or sweet potatoes and green beans made her vomit violently.(It was this that prompted my tearful call to the Gerber hotline where a very sweet operator told me, “Ma’am….did you ever think that maybe she just doesn’t like green beans?” Hmh, no, not that had not occurred to me….) She had ice cream at Braum’s with her Gram, Grandma Ginger and Papa Jim when she was only four months old. The one thing I almost did sort of the way I had planned was her baby book. I wrote down a lot of infinitesimal things that don’t mean much to me now, but compared to her sister’s baby book which merely states her name, I am counting it as a victory.
Few things have gone as I planned. I planned on two children, a boy and a girl. I have three. I had visions of red caps and gowns and getting misty-eyed to “Pomp and Circumstance” at their graduations. Now we homeschool and Abby’s graduation was celebrated with nary cap nor gown. Instead of always having the right answer, I sometimes answer with “Because I said so” and I don’t even feel bad about it anymore. I have also on more than one occasion locked myself in the bathroom to eat a candy bar so I wouldn’t have to share it. I have swatted, smacked, spanked, and grounded. I have cried, laughed, sighed, smiled, patted, and rocked. I’m not always sure I’m doing this whole Mom thing “right”.
Before I even knew she did, my momma had my back. She may not have always agreed with me, but she has always trusted me and empowered me to make my decisions and own the outcome, no matter what. I hope and pray I am doing my kids the same service. And at the end of it all, I hope my kids have the same assurance I have had for 42 years now – that their momma would do anything for them.
Thank you, Mom. You are still and always will be the wind beneath my wings.