I want to tell you a story about my mom, both because I think she's awesome, and because this very moment told me everything I needed to know about the kind of mother I want to be. My first child was wanted, much anticipated, and deeply, deeply loved. However, her first few days in this world were nothing short of exhausting, confusing, and downright difficult. Later, I would know that the feelings I had in those early days probably went a little deeper than the baby blues, and after her death 3 1/2 months later, I sunk deeper still into a depression, but in the early days, the lack of sleep and general confusion about who this person was and what she wanted from me were painful and terrifying. One evening, it seems to me she had been crying, inconsolable for at least 20 minutes when I felt like I was falling apart. I called my mom and probably screamed into the receiver, "Mom, I don't know what to do. She's crying, and she won't stop. I don't think she likes me." My mom told me to hang tight, hung up the phone, and came directly to my house.
When she walked in the door, I said to her, "do something to make her stop. Do something 'mothery'." But the 'mothery' thing she did was to take the screaming baby from my arms, hand the screaming baby to my husband, take me on her lap, and rock me. Her baby. She may have had the urge in that moment to tell me what to do, to show me what kinds of things I might try to make the baby stop screaming, she may have even thought to send me to my bedroom and take care of her screaming grandchild herself. But she knew that all I needed was to be loved, and held, and told that it was going to be okay. Not only all that, but I needed to be reminded that I was a good mother, even and especially when I had an inconsolable baby, and that I was going to make it through.
When that beautiful baby died, after I had held her lifeless body in my arms. After my mom had held her first grandchild's still body in her arms. My mom held me, her baby, in her arms, and reminded me that I was a good mom, even and especially when my baby was silent and that I was going to make it through.
She never told me how. She never told me when. She never told me what to do or how to do it. She reminded me that I was loved, and that I was strong.
That is the kind of mother I want to be to my own children. The kind of mother who allows them to be fully who they are, and celebrates that person, even when it's difficult or painful (for them or for me), and reminds them that they are loved. Thanks, mom.
What kind of moments in your life have informed you about the type of mother you want to be? How do you remind yourself of those moments when you're in the midst of a parenting crisis and you seem to forget? Who is the best example in your life of a great mom?