A little over 20 years ago Martha told me she would like to have children. I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday. I was ambivalent. On one hand, I never particularly wanted or needed children. On the other hand, I really had no objections either. And so on that less than enthusiastic note, we began the amazing journey into parenthood.
I remember crying when I saw the ultrasound of Beanie’s little heart beating. After months of Lamaze training she was born late on a Saturday night by emergency C section. The doctor gently handed her to me to present to Martha. Every nurse oohed and aahed over how beautiful and perfect she was. It was my first feeling of parental pride.
Yesterday Beanie told me she had a 3.7 GPA, good enough to make the President’s List. She also is a member of student government, VP of student life, earned a ‘future leader award’, works a part time job and volunteers 10 hours a week for a preschool Headstart program. Yes, she is still making me proud.
A year and a half after Beanie, Peachie was born. Not breathing, she was whisked away somewhere while Martha and I looked at each other in sheer panic. I had never been so scared in my life. And for the first time I knew what it meant, really meant to be a parent.
Over the years Peachie gave us more reasons for concern - some early health issues, some learning issues, which turned into some confidence issues. And then she suddenly transformed into quite the beauty. Clothing and shoes became overly important to her. That worried us too. But she soon funneled that love of fashion into a program where she organizes a prom for mentally and physically challenged kids throughout our region. She spends countless hours collecting used prom dresses and shoes for these kids and doing their hair and makeup. And then dances the night away with every person in a wheelchair. Yep, she too makes me proud every day.
In my life, I have been so fortunate to have known love. The love of and for my parents. The achingly beautiful love of a soul mate. The supportive and comforting love of friends. And I have been given a second chance in life to love. I know that life can change in an instant. I do not take love or relationships for granted.
But these last 20 years of parenthood have been my biggest lesson in love. I had no idea I could love so deeply. And I had no idea how much love they would give me back. Unconditionally. No games. No ego. No threats of leaving. My children have, by far, taught me more about love then I ever could have imagined. They are tremendous teachers.
People often say we should live in the moment. And I don’t disagree with that. To appreciate the here and now to the fullest. But children force us to look beyond our present selves and our own needs and look toward the future. Nothing takes us out of our innate selfishness, the acting on our own needs and desires, our own bullshit, faster than being responsible for and loving a child.
I didn’t think I wanted or needed children. I was so very, very wrong.
Both my girls will be home for Mother’s Day. We will spend the day together, hopefully in the warmth of the sun, sharing food and stories and laughs with each other. They will cook and pamper us as they always do. Later, our good friends, and their godmothers, will come over and share dessert.
And then as Martha and I curl around each other in bed at night, we will reassure each other, as we so often have when talking about how the kids are doing - “so far, so good”.
Happy Mother’s Day all.