In life you go through stages. You start out as a young child and know that you’re parents are invincible. That they are the best there is and NO ONE has parents greater than yours. Then you get older and start to become more self involved and self way-too confident and you begin to think that your parents know nothing and could never understand you. Gradually you get even older and that too falls away and you begin to see your parents more as your peer and confidante. Someone who IS awesome and the best parent you can have but someone who also, like yourself, makes mistakes and tries as hard as they can.
I don’t remember the situation of the conversation but I remember sometime near the end of high school/beginning of college when my Mom and I were having a conversation and she told me that her hope was that as I continued to grow up that we would become best friends. I will always treasure that sentiment. I am so thankful that she was willing to make the transition with me from one who takes care of all my needs to someone who helps me and treats me as an equal.
But still, even as a married adult, while I thought I understood all that my Mom had done for me (and my Dad, but this is Mother’s Day after all), I really didn’t. I was already regretful for the insensitive things I said and did to my Mom growing up. I definitely was not perfect and I know was not always the most friendly teenage. But even though I thought I knew I didn’t really grasp the concept of “Mother.”
When I got pregnant with Charlotte the picture began to get a little clearer. As Mom’s we love our children unconditionally from the moment we know about them, while it sometimes takes the Dad’s a little longer to wrap their mind around that this thing that they can’t feel or touch or even see any signs of existence other than craziness in their wife is their child. But a Mom knows and loves her children from the moment that they know they’re alive — and often for long before that if they’re longing for a child. But still, the picture is incomplete.
Amanda Jones painted a great picture of the moment of understanding dawning in her post “Now I Know” and it really touched a cord with me. It’s true. Before Charlotte was born I didn’t understand. I thought I did but I didn’t really understand the bravery that it takes to get up each day and know that you have a child to mold and shape and lead in the right direction. I didn’t know how much love you can feel for another person that you look at and want only the best things for. I didn’t fully grasp how hard it must have been to sit on the sidelines and watch me hurt and struggle with things that I wouldn’t take her advice for or to watch others hurt my feelings. I didn’t understand the sense of responsibility you have to make the best decision 100% of the time and the sense of defeat when it seems like the decision that you struggled over isn’t the right now. I didn’t understand how much it hurts to watch your child hurt and how utterly devestating it is to send your child off to surgery or see them in pain that you can’t fix.
A Mother’s job is hard. It’s full of long nights and even longer days. Endless laundry and dishes and lots of small actions done with little to no thanks. But it’s also the most rewarding. Little kisses and hugs. Freely given “I love you’s” and the joy of knowing that a lot of times you are the only one that can comfort and heal. That morning in May when I met Charlotte the understanding started to come and my appreciation of my Mom grew so much. I have only learned more and appreciated all that she did for me even more as Charlotte has gotten older. I know with the coming of James and as they grow older that I will only sympathize for what I put my Mom through even more. But I can also look back now in a sense of awe at the love that she has always demonstrated and that I have never questioned. I definitely didn’t understand the depth of that love before I had Charlotte and I feel so very undeserving now that I can truly grasp the depth and breadth of that love.
Mom, I could not have asked for anyone more perfect to be my Mother. You have always comforted and encouraged me and I am so thankful that I can now call you ‘friend’. Thank you can’t even begin to be enough to say, but that’s what I will say today. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for all that you have done for me and all that you will do in the future. I am blessed beyond measure to have you in my life.
I love you, Jenn.