When I was a very little girl, there were two things I wanted to be when I grew up: a writer and a mother. Somewhere along the way, the first one became less important but the second one never wavered. The life I envisioned for myself always included children and as I grew older, I thought I knew what parenthood would entail.
I had the perfect example to learn from. My mother was and is a wonderful example of what maternal love should be. She cooked meals for me … and made sure to teach me what she did in the kitchen. She cleaned for me … but also taught me to clean up after myself. When I had a fever, she would place a cool rag on my forehead and stroke my hair until I fell asleep. When I had a cold, she would make me soup and tuck me into bed and be ready with the cough syrup. She said yes to dogs and cats that despite my best intentions, she inevitably took care of. She drove me to school and picked me up and made sure I did my homework. She packed my lunch – and it was always good. She read me stories and sang to me and held me close when I was scared or sad or just in need of feeling loved. She always told me I was smart and pretty and that she was proud of me. She listened. She taught me to think of what the other person might be feeling and to reach out to the outcast. She cared about my friends. She cared about my feelings. She wanted to know my thoughts. She laughed at my lame jokes. She would drop everything to pull me in close and hold me when it felt like my world was falling down.
So I thought I knew what it took to be a mother: patience, gentleness, kindness.
And then on October 26, 2016, one moment took me from hopeful expectation to a knowledge both foreign and familiar.
With a wail, Tobias James Hunt was placed on my chest and my life bloomed into full color.
The following months were hazy and blurred by sleep-deprivation but a clarity began to seep in. An undeniable truth that is at once perfect and impossible and the definition of bittersweet. As each day came and went, I realized that there is no going back. There is no retrieving this time. I was faced with the physical reflection of time passing as I watched Tobias grow from a tiny fragile newborn to an active, alert little person – one who is developing a personality and learning new things every single minute.
And these minutes are going by faster and faster. Days and weeks and months. I carry the knowledge that, God-willing, my little baby will grow into a boy and then a man. I carry the impossible truth that I will love him forever and yet have to let him go out into the world one day – a world that will never love him with the same love. It’s a truth that catches me by surprise sometimes. When I’m folding a pair of his tiny little shorts and tears spring up and I have to lift my eyes to God and say thank you for the privilege of having a child to do laundry for. When I’m rocking him in the middle of the night, my arms and eyes weary of the late hour, and I get lost in staring at this perfect little being who finds security in me.
And now I realize who my mother truly is. She is more than all the things she ever did for me. She is more than the listening ear and the kind words. All this time she has loved me with a love that has no condition, despite the cost to herself. She has felt my sadness and my joy and my hopes and my failures. She has born the weight of my worries and anxiety. She has taken my problems onto her own shoulders. And she has done all this not because of any expectation that one day I would realize just how amazing she is. No, she has simply loved me with a mother’s love.
Thank you, Mom, for loving without hesitation. As I thank God for the incredible gift of being able to celebrate my first Mother’s Day with a child of my very own, I also thank Him for the gift of you. Happy Mother’s Day.