Being a mom has changed me. Before I became a mom, I thought I totally “got” motherhood. I thought I really knew what to expect even though how could I? I always wanted to be a mom. I had imagined all the hard things and the good things, but I really knew so little.
I had no idea how the weight of your small fragile body in my arms would change the meaning of life and the world around me.
I had no idea what your first smile, and your second smile, and your thousandth smile would do to my heart.
I had no idea how desperately alone I would feel as the great and terrifying responsibility of motherhood rested on my shoulders and my whole being. The restless nights listening for your breath. The first night in the hospital praying and wishing so desperately that I might somehow keep you safe in spite of my fear.
I had no idea what it meant to feel true pride. To watch you authentically learn to move and be in this world. To see you laugh at simple pleasures. To feel the tiny but oh so staggering pull of your hand as you clutched my finger, my hand, my heart.
I had no idea how much my mom had given, how hard she has really loved me, or how far she had gone to make my life the beautiful, wonderful experience it has been so far. All the ways she let me learn things the right way. All the countless times (I can only imagine) she endured me unknowingly breaking her heart with a careless phrase or a misunderstanding teenage/young adult/full adult moment. All the times she just loved me when she couldn’t fix things. All the times she watched me take a path that made her afraid. All the times she loved me just for being me.
I had no idea. and then I knew it all it in huge crashing waves. I was gasping it all in. A whole new world, a changed view of myself, a new lens through which to see the world.
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Motherhood is a strange and incredible path. We were at a wedding last weekend, and the uncle of the bride came over when he saw you sleeping in the stroller, asked if you were my daughter. He said (Robin was his name), don’t less the stress of parenting get to you. Don’t let it turn into a burden or a chore. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.
And I smiled and easily, weightlessly replied, I won’t. I don’t. She is my greatest joy. I enjoy her and cherish every day. and it is so, so true. Sure there are hard moments, but most of the time I’m just soaking you in and thinking what did I do to deserve you?
You are my greatest joy.
* * *
My whole life I looked up to my mom, Bea. I’ve talked to you about your Gigi before, but man is she the greatest. When I was little, she took care of me and your uncle Dirk all by herself. I never realized it then, but things were really hard for her for a while. I didn’t realize it because our lives were filled with fun and laughter and so much love.
I can remember how much I looked up to her. She has always been strong and smart and confident. She taught me to stand up straight and to use my real voice and to have no fear. I loved to listen to her sing along to the radio in the car, the sound of her laugh so bold and full and shaking, or her voice so loud and excited I had to hold the phone six inches away to keep from blowing out my eardrums. She has things to say! She loves life! She is here, and wherever here is there’s a party!
Gigi’s life is one big beautiful, sparkling exclamation mark.
She draws people to her. People want to know her and to love her because she just makes you happy to be around. She always has a smile and an encouraging word, and she really sees people.
She always told me I could be anything I wanted to, and I believed her. She was brave and big hearted, and she taught me how to really live.
She’s the reason I am the person I am today, and I now know that all along my life she’s been dropping the bread crumbs of motherhood for me to pick up. and thank goodness for that.
Sunday will be my first Mother’s day, and I think I’ll wear the day like a badge of honor and gratitude with a full heart. You, my sweet, smart, amazing girl, made me a mom. But I can’t help but always come to this day first as a daughter.
This year, I am more grateful of my mother than I’ve ever been, and maybe it will start to really, really sink in that I’m a mom too.
You are so loved, my Beanshine, always,