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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

To my mother on my first mother’s day

I’ve just finished feeding my son and my thoughts turn to you, as they so often do nowadays. I had been late giving him his bottle and he alternately screamed at and pleaded with me to do what he wanted. What I thought would be comforting words to him, weren’t. But a four month old doesn’t understand words, he understands actions. The louder and more insistently he screamed, the more flustered I got and the more I fumbled with the bottle and the longer it took. I would offer more words of comfort and he would reply with more screams and more pleading looks and, worst of all, more tears.

When I finally was able to give him his feast, he looked up at me with the most adoring eyes that said one thing. “I love you.” His eyes didn’t say, “What took you so long?” Or “You did it wrong.” Or “Don’t you have any clue what you’re doing?” Or “I bet other Moms are better than you at this.” They just said, “I love you.” And as you read this right now, you would see that in my eyes as well. But hopefully you’d see one more thing too. “I’m beginning to understand.”

I think of my brother three years my senior born in 1972, then I think of the first six weeks with my son born in 2006 and I know that the last peaceful, worry free night of sleep you ever got was probably sometime in 1971 – if ever.

You and my father were much younger than my husband and I when you started your family and I don’t know how you did it. You were ten years younger than I am now when you gave birth to my brother and seven years younger than I when you had me. At 25 years old, you had two babies in diapers and at 25 years old, I was selfishly partying like a rockstar, never looking back. At 32 now, there are still times I feel helplessly inadequate and I keep wondering when my son’s instruction book will show up in the mail. I wonder if at times in my childhood, you felt the same as I feel now.

I think of my son’s face again and I have to go check on him to make sure he’s alright. He had flipped over on to his tummy, which I know is not the best position for him to sleep in, so I turned him over. Of course, this woke him and we engaged in a short battle of wills at midnight. I worry so much that if sleeps on his belly, he won’t be able to breathe as he should but apparently, he is most comfortable this way. I wonder how many nights you stood at my crib and watched me sleep and listened to me breathe. And how many nights you rushed to my cribside because I was crying, and then the nights you rushed to my crib because I wasn’t.

Looking at my sweet baby, I know that I want the world for him. And I hope I have the strength to accept that what he wants may not be what I want. I know there will be times when he breaks my heart, as I’ve broken yours and I wonder how I will be able to stand it. I know there are so many more battles ahead for us and I hope my son and I can fight the battles without starting a war. So many times when I shut the door on you, you patiently waited outside until I opened it again. I hope I have your strength. I know you did everything you can to give it to me.

I look down at my once flat belly and see stretch marks and a seemingly everlasting mound of flesh there. I remember the long scar down your abdomen from the c-section you had with me – a memento of my birth as I didn’t cooperate from day one. I know you’ll never show me or speak to me of all the scars I’ve given you, but I know they’re there just the same.

So to you, my mother and the most wonderful woman I know, on my first Mother’s Day, I want to say I love you and I’m beginning to understand. I also want to say thank you. Thank you for your grace, your humor, your patience, your love and for helping me as I tackle the most rewarding and most daunting job in my life: motherhood.

This post was written and submitted by Dana Diehlman.

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