I cried the whole way home after dropping my mom off at the airport last week. My heart was laden with a heavy sweet and sour mixture of gratitude and grief (and maybe a few hormones).
Gratitude for all that she did for us. For making it to the birth (and praying her heart out that the baby would wait for her to be there), for her experienced presence and ever sustaining and bolstering love throughout the whole process of those last days of impatient pregnancy, that intense birth and all the glory-less, glamorous-less guts of the first week post partum. For the shopping and gourmet meals and running kids around and cleaning and laundry. For loving me and Jeff so well: getting Jeff breakfast before work, sitting by the fire with me at night and rubbing my aching back, helping me strategize (with her years and years of experience with newborns) about how to understand this little babe and the changes in my body, bringing me meals in bed, holding my wriggling baby off a little longer in the middle of the night so that I could get some uninterrupted sleep, not letting me lift a single thing. For not complaining a single iota about all the work we were piling on her (all the while I’m sure she had some aches and pains and fatigue that she never reveled). And maybe most grateful for the love she showered on my kids….not just the angelic little newborn (he’s easy to love and she did love him to pieces)….but for the not-so-easy-to-love-while-going-through-this-big-transition-big kids. She took them each on little Grammie dates, dressed and bathed and fed them, got into the details of their lives, put them to bed and did all kinds of extra little things to make them feel loved and secure during this big change.
And then, all tangled up with that immense gratitude was the grief. Grief that those ten days of pampering and love and one on one time with my mom had passed and were now just going to get filed up in my brain as memories. Memories that will fade and get foggy with time. Memories that won’t get relived until I’m on the other end, struggling to do the same things for Hazel and Emmeline.
I have to say, the four times my mom has come out to help after a baby have been some of the sweetest days in my life. I lay in my bed, listing to her kindly negotiate the kids through the morning routine, I look at the little new life cuddled up beside me sleeping and realize that all the feelings I feel for this baby she once felt for me. All the sleepless nights and engorgement and pain and beauty of bringing a child into the world my mother once lived through for me. And now she’s here serving me all over again, in a different way, as I begin the cycle of motherly love again with this new little.
All of it left me and Jeff stunned. Stunned by her ability to know all our needs and work so tirelessly to fill them. And to convince us that she enjoyed every single minute of it.
Somehow I thought that when I had children I’d miraculously turn into my mother. I thought that there was something about motherhood that automatically triggered all these selfless, hard working, loving qualities that define my mom. Sadly, I quickly discovered that it’s just who my mom is. She is cut from different cloth. I’m on my fourth child and still have miles and miles and miles to go…….
I was hoping that her example would sink into us all and once she was gone we’d have a little more of her in us. Maybe we do, it’s possible that she snuck a little of it into the food she fed us, or massaged it into my shoulders, or put it in with the laundry soap. But it’s a little hard to decipher that with the craziness that has come with this transition, thick layer of fatigue and post partum hormones.
Thank you mom for giving us so much of yourself. We’ll etch what you gave us into our hearts and pray it comes out often to bless us the way you blessed us all during your stay.
We can’t say thank you enough…..so I’ll leave it at that.