I’ve been preparing to write a post about Mother’s Day seeing as how this will officially be my very first. I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on how my view of Mother’s Day has changed over this last year.
Before my beautiful little man joined our family late last May, I’d gotten to a point where I really and truly thought I’d never be a mom. And before I’d gotten to that lowly, negative space, I thought about Mother’s Day in a somewhat superficial, completely unrealistic way…people genuflecting, the nod of reverence as people passed by me on Mother’s Day Sunday, not having to lift a finger, people constantly at my beck and call. Apparently, I had confused being a mother with being the Queen Mother. Oh, and brunch and mimosas. Definitely brunch, and A LOT of mimosas! But none of that matters though because…
What I THOUGHT I’d come to realize over this past year is that Mother’s Day doesn’t really matter to me anymore, because every day in this past year has been my own celebration…my own little personal mother’s day. Every day. Every one. For real. My life has felt like an embarrassment of riches for the last, almost 342 days. I have been so blessed with a beautiful and happy son. And by God, that little niblet loves me in a way that no one ever has before, and no one ever will again. I have a new appreciation for the meaning of “unconditional love.” That was to be the focus of my post originally… how sweating the idea of Mother’s Day all those infertile and waiting years ago (https://miznattie.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/happy-mothers-day-blues/), and building it all up in my head didn’t really matter in the long run because finally being a mom is its own reward.
I find myself today at my local mall…
in the Hallmark store. Damn you, Hallmark!
I’m there with the express purpose of finding a Mother’s Day card to send to BabyMan’s tummy mommy.
Sidebar: If anything has really and truly evolved over this past year, it’s the level of awe, respect, and gratitude I feel for the young woman who gave me the most amazing gift. Not that I ever thought I wouldn’t feel gratitude, respect, or awe, but the level to which I feel these emotions often gives me pause. It’s something that many of my family and friends can’t quite appreciate. But, I can only say this…she created a person and brought him into the world…and then had the strength and courage and love for him to place him in my arms and let me raise him. Some people may think she didn’t have a choice, but… there. is. always. a. choice. I just thank God, the cosmos, my lucky stars, and my guardian angels that somewhere along the way her heart told her that I would be a good mama for her son. There could not be a more beautiful and empowering sentiment than to know that someone has that ultimate level of faith in you and plucks you from obscurity and makes you a mother. It’s tragic and beautiful. Sigh.
I could go on and on about that, but let’s get back to the Hallmark store.
So there I am, in the overly pink aisle dedicated to Mother’s Day. It’s me and my little guy, a 20-something woman, and a post-middle-aged man shopping for cards (and bravo to him for getting in there early in the week before all the cards get picked over–my husband could learn a thing or two from that dude). My son is fussy. Like a true rookie, I totally left the house without a pacifier, so I have no way to calm him down other than to occasionally make funny faces at him while jiggling the stroller. I accidentally clip the heel of the young woman. She is forgiving, but she is clearly afraid of my sub-par stroller skills, and suspect of my parenting in general. I mean, what kind of mother leaves the house without a binky?!?!? She abruptly flees the aisle. I guess I would have done the same if the shoe was on the other stroller-mangled foot. I begin to peruse all the different categories of Mother’s Day cards… Sister, Aunt, Grandma, Wife, Like-A-Mom, Step-Mom, Any Mom, Friend… Then my eye catches a small collection of cards for Birthmothers. They are nestled amongst a larger section with proud little tabs identifying them as cards for “1st Mother’s Day”. Hey! That’s me!!
I reach for one of the birthmothers cards. But before I can even get through reading the sentiments written in the highly feminine font spun across the flowery cover, it happens…
I break down into a full-on case of ugly crying. Without warning, raindrop-sized tears are streaming down my face. I am shocked by how caught off guard I am. The baby begins to fuss more, and through speech that sounds like I’m gargling honey, I say, “It’s ok, sweetie [sniff, sniff]. We’re almost done. I promise. [sob, sniff]”
This attracts the attention of the older guy. He takes one look at me and is certain that I am in need of medication, and potentially unfit to have an 11-month old child in my charge. My chin is quivering as I try to compose myself. I glance back the man’s way to see how much of a scene I am causing, and catch that last streak of color and the little puff of air that lingers momentarily in the same way it does when the Road Runner escapes from Wile E. Coyote. It could have only been more perfect if the sound “MEEP! MEEP!” had accompanied his breakaway!
So it’s just me and my boy.
I’m a wreck and he’s a squealing mess. Together, we are a nightmare and every other patron and clerk in the store is surely counting the seconds until we leave. As I stand there wiping my eyes and nose with the sleeve of my t-shirt (Seriously?!?! There are no tissues in the diaper bag either?!?!?) I realize that Mother’s Day is a HUGE deal for me and to think that somehow it’s not was just a foolish fib I was telling myself. Then looking at all the cards stacked in long rows and tall columns in front of me…
A-ha! Moment: The reason it’s so HUGE is because it’s about so much more than just me and my mommy status. It’s about the journey, with all its struggles and challenges that led to this point of me standing snot-nosed in the Hallmark store. It’s about my son and how much he has changed my life for the better–in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and in ways that continue to happen and surprise me–even as he wriggles and writhes in the stroller next to me. It’s about the mom that gave birth to my son who won’t get to spend the day with him and trying to absorb the depth of that sacrifice. It’s about my sisters, my soul sister, my sister-in-law, and my sister friends who are my child’s aunties and how lucky he is to so many awesome women teach him how to be a man. It’s about my own mother (for better or worse), my step-mom, and my mother-in-law who is no longer with us, and how much I can learn about being a mother from them. And finally, It’s about all the other moms-in-waiting for whom I cheer and pray and wish to have the same chance to stand stupefied in the Hallmark store crying over folded cardstock! Please, don’t despair waiting mommies… I promise it will come.
I proceed to the check out. The sweet old lady behind the counter looks at me all puffy and red-faced with an air of mild concern , and then smiles down at Mr. Fussy McFusserson. She looks at the card I’ve selected (clearly intended for a birthmother) and then she looks at me and then to my son and then back to the card. I can almost see the wheels turning and the synapses firing as she smiles that Oh, I get it kind of smile. Finally, she looks up and says, “Did you find everything you need?”
And as I nod and smile back, I can’t help but think…”More than you can ever know.”