Saturday, May 10, 2014

On Being A Mom

Happy Mother's Day to all my family and friends, near and far! Of course, it doesn't need to be the official Mother's Day for me to think about my moms. I think about them all the time. For years, I hated Mother's Day after Mom(Rae) had died. I was so bitter for so long. And then when I was in high school, my dad met Mom(Sherry Lynn) and thus, I came to know two wonderful moms in my life. And Mother's Day didn't suck as much anymore.

Each of my moms shaped my world. I will never forget Mom(Rae)'s laugh. Or the way her voice sounded. I remember very clearly being perhaps just a bit older than Raelynn is now, brushing my mom's long hair. I suddenly began whipping it up all over in the back, searching. "Jennifer, what are you doing???" she asked me. And I told her: "I'm looking for the eyes in the back of your head." She laughed and laughed and laughed at this, realizing that I believed everything she ever said to me. How else could she possibly know what Phillip and I were destroying when she wasn't looking if for no extra eyes buried deep beneath her hair?

I remember the way she was a good person and how she was always trying to teach us we were so lucky to have the kind of life we had. She spent a lot of time volunteering for Kids in Distress and I loved helping her round up my old toys and clothes to donate so I could help too. Every time anyone spoke of her after she died, they always told me what a good person she was. When my friend Melissa (who I'd known since first grade) got married, her mom told me about how she liked my mom so much. She said all the other moms were so snobby. But my mom had as much as, if not more than they, and she was so down-to-earth and so lovely. It made me happy to know these things about my mom. And a little sad too.

For years, I carried around guilt that I was not as good a person as her. I could be mean. Beyond mean. Heartless at times. I went through a lot, trying to hide my pain. When you are left with a hole in your heart at age 9, it's hard to keep it from falling apart completely.

Not one day has passed since Mom(Rae) died that I haven't thought about her. And I truly believe she helped my dad find Mom(Sherry Lynn). A mom who was tough as nails on the outside and tender and kind as could be inside. She never sugarcoats anything and she never once gave up on me, even when I had pretty much given up on myself. She never once complained when any of us talked about Mom(Rae). In fact, she was always happy to listen. And Mom(Sherry Lynn) had the hardest job of all...enduring me through my teen and college years.

And now that I'm a mom myself, I look at my two moms and am grateful for both of them. I will always wish Mom(Rae) had never died, but I'm so happy I didn't get a stepmom...I got a Mom-Mom.

This morning, my husband ordered me to go back to sleep and get the rest I'm always dreaming about. He kept Raelynn busy for a while. Then, she came into our room and crawled into the bed. "Hi Mommy! I love you!" I cried, both tears of happiness and tears of sorrow. And I prayed to God that I would not die young like Mom(Rae). If I can have anything I want, the thing I want the most is to not miss my children growing up.

I quickly shook away the sorrow and just relished this moment in time with Raelynn. This is my last Mother's Day with just her. Next year, two little angels will climb all over me, and hopefully, Jeremy will be able to handle them both while I get some extra rest.

We went out to a nice Italian restaurant for lunch. I really wanted to go to DaVinci in Shangri-La but there's a massive conference for some large group that's in town now and Jeremy was concerned we wouldn't be able to get in. So I chose my second choice, Milano's, in the lovely and vibrant coffee street area. We had pizza, lasagna and creme caramel. Or should I say we got a bite or two of the creme caramel before Raelynn gobbled the whole thing up. Oh well...there's plenty of dessert items in our home so I'm not too worried.

A nice lunch with my sweet little family and a big compliment made my day. Before we left, Raelynn was chatting away about how old she is. "I'm 3! I'm 3!" she cheered. "Raelynn, how old is Mommy?" I ask her. "Mommy is 4," she tells me, and just like Mom(Rae), I laugh and laugh and laugh, and I savor the preciousness of that moment so that I can enjoy it forever.

Mom(Rae) when she was young. Not sure what age she is in this photo.

 Me, not sure what age, but right at home in our 70s kitchen.

 Raelynn, age 3. We all have that same face. Sometimes, when I look at her, I feel like I'm a toddler again staring at my face in the mirror. 

Not to negate any of my other accomplishments in my life, but I am probably most proud of being a mom. It is the hardest, yet the best and most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. Jeremy, thank you for making me a mommy. And Raelynn, I'm so happy I get to be YOUR mommy. I love you so much. And one day when you wonder just how much that is, perhaps playing with your own kids, I want you to look at them and feel that endless, bottomless fountain of love brewing inside of you, and then you will truly know how much I love you and how I will never stop loving you no matter what. 

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