She knew before I told her, nervously, over the phone. I heard her desperate attempt to hide the disappointment in her voice – her “smarter than that” daughter was pregnant, grossly underemployed, and barely scraping by at 21. But she offered her support and assured me that everything would be OK.
Days later, I heard the panic in her voice when I confessed that I’d been bleeding. She urged me to call her as soon as the hospital told me something. That was my first threatened miscarriage – the second came only a week or so later.
Together with my aunt – another badass woman, might I add – mom helped me pack my things into a vehicle. Barely 12 weeks pregnant, I’d admitted defeat. I was moving home.
She helped me find a job. Together with my dad, she lent me her car so I could get to work. She made sure I ate well and tried to quell the emotional rollercoaster I was on as hormones soared and I struggled to reconcile all that was happening in my life.
She came to my 20-week ultrasound with me. She scoured the baby names books and delighted in knowing her first grandchild – a little boy – would be here soon. She helped me prepare, gave me perspective, and told me stories about bringing my baby brother and me home. The difference in our circumstances was stark: while I’d had months to prepare, she and dad got ready for my arrival at 10 months old in only a few days.
When I say my mom is Super Woman, I’m not kidding.
In many ways, Mom was pregnant with me for those nine months. I don’t have a pregnancy memory that her strength isn’t part of. When I think of the emergency trip to the hospital when the doctor thought I might be pre-eclamptic, or the days of lying in a hospital bed on strict bed rest when she helped me sneak from bed to the bathroom to freshen up, it’s the courage Mom gave me that got me through the scariest moments.
It was as much her first pregnancy as it was mine and it was an absolute honour to have her with me every step and baby kick of the way.
Like most mother-daughter relationships involving adolescence, ours was tumultuous at times. Nearly ten years into my own parenting journey, I work to become my mother even while hearing friends joke about their fears of becoming theirs. Although there’s only a size between our feet, I have very big shoes to fill.
I often wish I could go back and unsay the things I said, or undo the things I’d done that hurt her as a sassy teenager or bratty kid. I wish I’d stopped to enjoy the moments in the car more, instead of turning up the radio, and I’m acutely aware of how quickly those chances escape us as my own child finds himself and ducks away from a hug or kiss. But I can’t go back so I can only look ahead.
My mother taught me that motherhood is precious. It’s not promised. After years of fertility challenges, she promised to open her heart and her home to me. She taught me that motherhood is a promise – not just to go to the pool this weekend or to make cupcakes, but a promise that binds twenty-four hours a day, year-round – in the sunshine and in the storm.
My mother taught me that motherhood is strength – from (hashtag) mom arms to the mental willpower not to smack your kid upside the head, motherhood requires energy and strength you didn’t know someone could have – much less you, yourself, possess.
She taught me that motherhood is imperfect. Messy (though, you’d honestly never know that if you walked into her house). Challenging and enduring and relentless and worth every second.
And she’s still teaching me.
Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom.