16 Years Ago…

Someone asked me today if being in labor was painful. I suppose if labor were so painful, women would give up having babies. So, no, I don’t remember labor being so painful.

Hard to believe he's 16!

Our son is 16. In just the past few weeks, his social life has exploded (in a good way). He’s leaving the nest. He’ll be at camp as a CIT this summer and undoubtedly will rarely – if ever write to us. Now he has his phone, so we suspect he’ll call. In our moments with him, he’ll  talk about things that are happening in school, with his friends, with the group at church. But, in a matter of a few months, he’ll be driving. (Oy!) Having just one child, you go through every  phase just once. We have tried to savor each moment or cheer that the phase has passed. There aren’t too many more phases we’ll be going through really. Now, it’s countdown to choosing a college and he’ll be off in just a matter of two years or so.

I said to my husband when we were planning a family, that my fear of having a child was that things would never be the same. I was so right. That has been a painful realization in some ways. Your relationship with your partner shifts to one that involves decisions based on the children; what’s best for them and setting aside your own needs and desires. Part of me wonders what things would be like without a child, but there is really no time to think that way. There is very little “child” left in our boy. He’s evolving into a young man with his own thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears that he will have to tackle day by day. Our role evolves into adviser and hopefully, friend. Yes, he’ll always be our son and we’ll love him forever. Now, the baby is long gone.

I do remember that pressure of child-birth – all 20 hours of pressure. Looking through the years, we have aged – gracefully, I hope – and look toward the newest phase: our life together as a 50-something couple and getting closer to being empty nesters. Oh my.

It’s Time for Mom

So many people call Mother’s Day a “Hallmark holiday.” It’s not a holiday in the true sense of the word, but it is a great time to take a moment to remember what that woman did who brought us into this world. (I seem to remember the expression,”I brought you into this world; I can take you out.”) OK, maybe THOSE moments are not the one’s we’re remembering. This is surely a tough time for people who have lost their mom. Maybe to many of them, it’s just another Sunday on the calendar.

My mom has always  said what she values most is time spent with my brother and I. Now, as a mom myself, I whole-heartedly agree. Weather-permitting, we’ll be on the Delaware River Sunday taking my mom and dad for a cruise on the water. Mom wants to pack lunch and dad just wants to spend time on my husband’s new treasure. I can already see my mom smiling with the wind blowing back her silver hair and my dad laughing and making jokes about jumping in the river. (They already made sure we have enough life vests on the vessel – we do).

While I enjoy my parents this Mother’s Day, I think about some people in my life who span the emotional realm of “motherdom.” My one friend is a new mom. Their lovely new baby has had quite a battle and is growing so unbelievably stronger every day. She and her husband have incredible support from their bosses and co-workers and a wonderful family. Her husband is a prime example of the sandwich generation and has worries about his mom and dad and their health. For the moment, it appears they are OK. Her mom is a treasure who has been living with them for some time and I know she is grateful every day. Mother’s Day will be so special in their home.

I think of  another girlfriend. She’s a wonderful friend who I have known for years. During that long span of time, she has never had a relationship with her mother. I only know pieces of the story, but it makes me sad that her mom is around and there is a void that will probably never be filled by that person who brought her into the world. She accepted the situation a long time ago, but now that she and her brothers and sisters are older, the void has worsened in my estimation. She talks about how she doesn’t feel as close to her siblings; they are married; she is not and without the connection to their mom, the void is deeper.

Another friend of mine lost her mom to cancer a few years ago. They had a strained relationship in her final years for many reasons. I would listen to the hassles she had with her mom and the struggles made worse with her brothers after her mother died. But now, my friend says she has let go of all the bad things that have happened and the things that were said. She wishes every day that her mother were back for just a moment.

I think of the friends I know whose mothers and fathers are struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s. What a strange time it must be to honor mom and think back to the times before this terrible disease enveloped their mind.

In this journey over the past couple of years, I have tried to take a moment to remember the good things in life. Yes, it’s a cliché, but you have to stop

My boys - Ocean City, June 2007

and smell the roses. Our children grow so very quickly. Looking at my friend’s baby and smelling that incredible baby smell made me remember what it was like to be a new mother, never having changed a diaper before and dealing with the monthly changes as our son grew so very quickly. Now, he is nearly 16; the baby is long gone, but to quote from my favorite children’s book, “Love You Forever-” I’ll love you forever, I like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

Happy Mother’s Day – every day.