Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thanks for the Memories and Happy Mother's Day

My children have given me many gifts since I became a mom more than 30 years ago. I've gotten many of your standard Mother's Day gifts including flowers, candy, jewelry, clothes and perfume. But of all the things my children have given me, the best gift of all is a lifetime of memories.

I've heard it said that being a Mom is the toughest job you'll ever love.  Whoever said that knew what they were talking about.  I love being a Mom.  But there were times when it was tough, tougher than I ever expected it to be.  There are good times and bad times.  Thank God, the good times far outweigh the bad.

Over the past 30 years I've experienced millions of momentary miracles and equally as many moments that made me wonder what the hell I was thinking when I decided to have these kids.

Those miraculous moments were sometimes followed by real downers. The thrill of holding my babies in my arms for the first time was followed by six weeks of postpartum blues while I thought about how having a baby may have ruined my life. While I tried to follow everyone's advice to "sleep when the baby sleeps" moronic telemarketers called trying to sell life insurance for our new little bundle of joy.

The hours of walking the floors all night with a colicky baby were quickly erased by baby's first smile.  Our first child slept all night by the time she was six weeks old.  I remember waking up that first morning and being absolutely convinced that she must have died in her sleep.  On the other hand, our second child never slept all night until he was five years old.  That's right, I said NEVER.  Not one full night of sleep in five years.  I would be trying to put him back to bed while choking back tears of exhaustion.  Seriously, I used to cry while praying for a full night of sleep.  

There were tiny little miracles like watching her curl her tiny little toes in the sand for the first time; followed shortly thereafter by her looking around the beach, turning up her nose, saying "dirty" and refusing to budge another inch.  She climbed right back into the car and refused to walk on the beach or go in the water.  Years later as a teenager, we always knew where to find her in the summer.  She was at the beach!

I especially loved it when my kids laughed.  There is something so innocent about how babies giggle.  And I fondly remember them standing in their cribs in the mornings sweetly calling "Ma-ma" over and over again in their little bitty voices.  A few short years later, that sweet smiling "Ma-ma" became "MOTHER!" while they rolled their teenaged eyes.

My children are vastly different.  She's a brown-eyed red-head.  He's blond with blue eyes.  She's always been quiet and introspective.  His personality is larger than life.  She's artistic and bookish.  He's mathematically inclined and sports crazy.  She's all about being organic and natural.  He loves things that are shiny and new. 

They have both always been very healthy and both are athletic.  They both played basketball from third grade all the way through high school.  He went on to play collegiate ball.  Some of my fondest memories are of sitting in the bleachers at the gym or a track meet.  She had to be dragged into her first year of "little dribblers" and didn't learn to love it until she had coaches who saw her potential and worked to develop her skills.  It came naturally to him.  He could dribble and shoot by the time he was five.  Seriously, he provided halftime entertainment at her little dribbler games.  As soon as the whistle blew, he was on the floor shooting from half-court and practically doing a dribbling demonstration.  Sports kept them grounded and provided them with a like-minded group of friends.  In the off-season they both played on AAU select teams which kept all of us busy and broke.   Both of them still remain active, enjoying bicycling, running, walking, yoga and basketball.

I remember how our daughter tried to hide her disappointment when her Dad bought her a used Ford Festiva as her first car.  She knew she should be grateful, but it was hard when several of her friends were driving shiny brand new cars.  But she made the best of it, thanked us graciously and never complained about being expected to drive her brother to wherever he needed to go.

Both of my children are unfailingly kind.  During his kindergarten class play the students were dressed as jacks-in-the-box.  When the little girl next to him knocked her box over, fell and started crying, he knocked his own box over so she wouldn't be the only one.

Then there was watching our second child mope around the house because he missed his older sister who had been gone away to college for a mere three months.  This after at least five years of them not being able to stand the site of each other.  It was amazing to watch the two of them run into each other's arms the first time they saw each other again.

I was proud of both of them when they graduated from high school and again when they both were awarded their bachelor's degrees.  I was even prouder to see both of them marry good and decent mates and begin families of their own.

I was so excited when she called me to tell me of her engagement and it was such an honor to be present when our son proposed to his future wife in front of her Aggie graduating class.  And there is nothing at all that can compare to witnessing the birth of your grandchild.  Just the knowledge that she wanted me there, in that room with her, was so touching.

Once, as a teenager, when she was annoyed that I had to know where she was going and when she'd be home, my daughter asked me why I cared so much. I firmly believe that my answer that day was inspired.  I told her, "You are my life's work. You are what God has given me to do. That's why I care so much." Honestly, it just popped into my head. And I still believe it. These children are my life's work.

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms, especially to my daughter!  And to my kids ... thanks for the memories.

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