Mother’s Day is just around the corner and all I can think about is how grateful I am to be one. I know the holiday is about moms and that my kids don’t really have a choice to keep me — because they’re stuck with me — but I’m so grateful. Regardless of how much work it is and how unexpected 90% of it is, regardless of how little I’m sleeping and how little I will ever sleep, regardless of how many gray hairs I’ve noticed in the past 6 months, regardless of the weight gain and the depressing fact that I haven’t worn non-maternity jeans since 2015 (but also not depressing because why don’t regular people wear these all the time?), regardless of the constant mess, the constant state of varying degrees of illness, the on-and-off again desire to hide, the on-and-off again tendency to sit in the bathroom for longer than needed, the on-and-off again desire to make up excuses to get out of bedtime, regardless of the fact that I haven’t had a weekend to myself since 2014, regardless of how scary the world has suddenly become, regardless of the sacrificed dreams and the “plans” I’ve put off for now (and at least the next 18 years), regardless of everything – I am. so. lucky. to call myself a mom.
Becoming a mom was not a choice for me – it was a consequence. And, at the time, it was neither positive nor negative. It was a consequence that became a fact. I was pregnant and within 9 months, if fate would allow it, I would become a mom. And I did. I became a mom to the most precious little boy to ever be born in the history of the world (said every woman who’s ever become a mother). We named him Matheson and planned to call him Matty. He was perfect and we had no idea what we were in for. The entire (whopping 4.6 mile) drive home from the hospital I cried, but not because I was worried or scared or nervous about what we would do once we got there but because Matty was terrified. His tiny fingers were wound as tightly as possible around mine and Seth couldn’t drive any slower. Then, about one mile from home, a car cut us off and Seth had to slam on the brakes. I lost my shit. And then Matty lost his shit. And then Seth lost his shit.
And so began our journey as parents.
Matty was the perfect-for-me child. He was (and still is), as ridiculous as it sounds, ambitious and curious and strong and soft and funny. He was the exact sort of commitment I never would have been brave enough to make had it not presented itself in the form of a consequence. He was who was meant to teach me the next bulk of my life lessons.
At eight weeks old to the day, we took Matty into the ER. He wasn’t keeping any food down and we were worried about his hydration. Seven hours later he was in surgery. It was a common procedure for a common condition called Pyloric Stenosis. And it was, beyond any doubt, the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. That was my first big lesson in motherhood – you’ll want to control everything, to keep your kids safe and pain free but sometimes, as difficult as it is, just being there is the most you can do. As I sat in the waiting room with Seth, our moms and my aunt (essentially my second mom) it became evident this was a motherhood truth I’d have to spend my lifetime coming to terms with. It was the exact reason my mom and aunt got out of bed at 3:30 in the morning to drive two and a half hours to sit in a hospital room with us while we waited for a surgeon. It was the same reason Seth’s mom rushed to the hospital as fast as she could just to sit in a waiting room while Matty underwent surgery.
It was the first lesson of many.
That day I gained a huge appreciation for great pediatric surgeons, Children’s Hospitals and all moms everywhere – but especially my mom. When I was 3, I fell out of a two story window after the screen gave way. I had to be life flighted (which, until this very moment, I’ve called “life lighted” so that’s embarassing but also – of course I did) to Children’s Hospital in DC where the doctors told my mom they didn’t think I’d make it. As a mom, I can’t even imagine. How did she do that?!
After moving to a small community in the Midwest from the east coast around the age of ten, for the first time in my life, it was brought to my attention that I was different. The community had yet to embrace diversity. On my first day of fourth grade I was asked if I was a nigger by some racist, ignorant asshole kid. And so it began. My mother, rather than lashing out at people for breeding such hate and setting fires (like I would have and might still) taught me to be proud of who I am, to hold my head up high and not to take shit from idiots.
I often feared what our boys would look like while I was pregnant and I’ve promised myself I’ll never ever live in a small town, but the truth is biased hate exists everywhere and it’s a very real fear a lot of people. I’ve spent my adult life wondering what I would do if my kids were subject to the sort of bullying and hate I was subject to because of the color of my skin – I’d love to say I’d handle it as gracefully as my mom but I’m not sure I could be that strong. How did she do that?!
After high school I chose to go to school in Hawaii, 3,939 miles (and half an ocean) away from home. I will never forget the day I had to say goodbye to my parents. We were at the Kansas City airport. After our goodbyes, our hugs, a few tears and a lot of ‘I love you’ and ‘I’ll miss you’ I turned to walk through security (crying like a lunatic) and then turned around one more time only to see my mom sobbing in my dad’s arms while he tried to hold back his tears. AND NOW I’M CRYING. My kids are going to college in my backfuckingyard, I don’t care if I have to move into an RV into the parking lot of some dorm building and pay parking tickets for the rest of my life. How did she do that?!
How do the good moms and dads do any of the things they do?!?!
I’m a mom and I don’t even know.
Being a parent is such an incredible privilege – but being a mom is the highest privilege of all. A privilege I don’t take lightly. I’m so grateful to be part of a class of such strong, intelligent, kind and caring women (and men), to have been blessed with such incredible kids and to have learned from the very best. I’m so grateful to be a mom, to have someone call me “mama” (even if they say it 5 bajillion times a day) and so excited to experience all facets of what that means. I’m even excited for mom jeans and my first mob, AKA mom-bob (because I can’t imagine a life where I wholeheartedly give zero fucks about that shit but it sounds productive, hassle free and freaking glorious).
So, Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms and “moms” who have – and continue to – pave the way for my generation and for my boys’ generation and to all of those before them and all of those preparing to join us. I promise to do my best not to tarnish your (our?) street cred and live up to the name.
Now, where’s the whiskey? WE DESERVE ALL THE SHOTS.
P.S. Thanks, Mom. You’re the best.