Reflections on Mother’s Day and other holidays

I know, Mother’s Day was over a month ago and I should be asleep, but I’ve been reading blogs and decided there are some things I want to say about Mother’s Day and holidays in general.

First, I love being a Mom. I’ve told two of my Mommy stories in other venues.  This post will not be (completely) about that. It will be about THIS Mother’s Day and about holidays in general. In context, I’ve given birth to three children. My first son died at birth in August, 1984. He was three months premature. I can’t describe the devastation and pain of that loss. We were so close. I KNEW him; I felt him; we moved together and suddenly he was gone and I was alone. Abandoned. All my dreams and hopes, my most intimate connection, gone. My husband was amazing, wonderful, my partner through all the joy, hope, pain, loss. I was NOT… really… alone.

My second son, Stefan was born in May, 1988.  My pregnancy with him was scary, stressful. I didn’t trust my body. I didn’t trust doctors. I was fearful, anxious, on drugs that made me feel transparent. I was teaching full time until late at night. I was monitoring contractions with a Tokos belt twice a day for an hour. If I had too many contractions, I had to drink a lot of water, lay on my left side, wait another hour, monitor again, and then go to the hospital if I was still having contractions. I can’t remember how many times I ended up in the hospital for observation late at night being poked and prodded when all I wanted was sleep.

There’s a line in the movie Hook where one of the lost boys recognizes a grown Peter Pan and says “ah, there you are, Peter”. It was like that for me with Stefan, I looked at him and KNEW him “ah, there you are…”.  That knowledge has been a consistent part of our relationship.  We KNOW one another. We feel one another when we are apart. We KNOW on a deep level that we are both in the world. Our connection is transcendent. I admire Stefan’s presence in the world. He is talented and fearless. He is giving and loving. He makes others feel good. He also has my tendency to wonder at times (usually the most ridiculous times) if he is good enough. Some times he doubts. There is no need.

Two days shy of five years later, I gave birth to my daughter. I wanted her with an ache in the center of my being. My pregnancy with Alyssa was so different from my prior two. She and I were together in such a calm, comfortable way.  Everything went smoothly.  I was confident. I trusted my body. I KNEW nothing would go wrong. (Well, that’s true if I don’t count the five days between having an amniocentesis and getting the results. I’m a talisman person. I purchased a silver heart necklace that I wore constantly from the afternoon of the test until I got the results back. I still have that necklace. When she turned 14 I gave Alyssa a lucite heart to commemorate her having mine. Someday I’ll give her the silver one.)  When she was born Alyssa  made the most amazing cooing sound and my heart was hers. Our connection is different. She doesn’t feel me when we are apart. She is not confident that I am in the world with her wherever she goes. Our relationship is often contentious. I adore her! Though she lacks Stefan’s groundedness in the world, Alyssa is totally grounded in herself. She has a fierce sense of fairness and justice. She is a ferocious protector of those she loves and the most honest person I know. She is talented, gifted and capable of doing anything she sets her mind to. I look forward to the choices she will make.

For Mother’s Day, Stefan was in Reno finishing up the semester. Alyssa and I were here in Andover.  She made me a breakfast of cinnamon rolls and milk, then took me to Tanganyika Wildlife Park. We fed lemurs, petted pregnant red kangaroos, snuggled rabbits, petted a sugar glider (my family’s favorite creature – next to otters – but that’s a story for another time). We walked arm in arm and enjoyed the marvels we saw. Then we went to Freddy’s for burgers, then home, then to the Star Trek movie. We had the most incredible, engaged day. We were both fully present.

Alyssa’s mantra of the day was “It’s Mother’s Day”!. When her friends called to invite her to play soccer and eat pizza, she said “It’s Mother’s Day”. She was single mindedly committed to being with me the whole day and we had a marvelous time. Many people disparage holidays. “We should treat our loved ones with care every day”, they say. While this is true, holidays are special. They are reminders to take the time to show those we love that they are precious to us.  That is what Mother’s Day meant to me this year – time for my daughter and I to hang out to be together, to take the time.

This weekend is the 4th of July, another time we can take the time to gather with those we love. Again my son is in Reno (we’ll go there to see him perform next week) and my daughter and I are home in Andover. We’ll have a cookout with friends, play yard games, shoot off fireworks (we’ve never lived anywhere we could do this before – we love fireworks!) and revel in being together, being citizens of this amazing country, making memories, marking important moments, together. Holidays are important. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, they remind us to pause, to take the time, to be in the moment. Enjoy the holiday! Enjoy all the moments!

4 responses to “Reflections on Mother’s Day and other holidays

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this!! After reading it, I took a few minutes to pause and reflect about what you said. Having never given birth, I don’t know what it’s like to have children but I do know what it’s like to be an aunt. I have nine nieces and nephews who mean the world to me and although I may not be as connected to them as a mother is to her children, I too, feel that connection to all of my siblings’ children. As I read your blog I began to realize that I have never told those nine incredible children just how much they mean to me. And I also realized that as you see the differences in your two children and love them so much for it, that I too see all the things that make my nieces and nephews so special. My grandmother once told me she thought of me every day and when she told me, it left such an impact on me that I haven’t forgotten how good it made me feel even though she said that quite a few years ago.

    I think it’s time for me to tell all my nieces and nephews that I think of them every day and just how much they mean to me. I want to tell them that I love them for their unique talents and how proud they make me. I should let them know how much joy and happiness they bring to my life.

    As adults I don’t think we may ever know how much we influence the children around us. They need us to tell them that we see how special they are, that we think of them often and that they have the potential to do whatever they want and that we love them for who they are.

    I spend as much time as I can with my nine special people, although I feel it’s never enough. Holidays have begun to take on a new meaning for me. I realize now how important they are. They make us realize that even though we may have life altering events happening in our lives, holidays are stable. There is comfort in knowing they will happen no matter what else is going on. They make us realize what we have and how lucky we are to share it with ones we care about. And so this holiday I pledge to let the nine most amazing people in the world know how much they mean to me and that I think of them every day.

    Deborah, thank you for inspiring me today.

  2. dballardreisch

    My pleasure, Pamela!

  3. dballardreisch

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments!

  4. Pingback: A late link to a late reflection that is timeless

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