Contrary to the media and retail hype, Mother’s Day is, I believe, the official day of reflection. Not the only day, just the official day, that mothers everywhere think about their role, their shortcomings, their successes, and their children.
On November 23, 1977, our first child Greg was born. As a 23-year-old first-time mother I was fairly paranoid. Paranoid about germs and who held him and how. Paranoid about feeding habits and development rates. Paranoid about threats to his health and safety.
I knew that raising this kid would be the most important work I’d ever do. Striking the right balance between fostering creativity and maintaining discipline. Walking the fine line between providing and over-indulging. Aiming for balance between providing opportunities and over-scheduling every minute of his day.
As he grew, the challenges grew. An auto-immune condition, while certainly not life threatening, threatened his quality of life. And so began a journey of learning, surrendering, asking for and accepting help, coping, counting blessings and so much more. None of us were left unchanged by this experience.
Like many mothers would have, I projected years ahead and feared for his future. I worried about his need to attend school, make friends, have fun, graduate, fall in love, and choose a career. I worried about the pain he suffered and the psychic scars it may leave.
Like many mothers would have, I felt guilty. What sort of genetic encoding had we given him? Were we making mistakes in our child-rearing? Had we set our expectations too high? Too low? Were we repeating our parents’ mistakes? Or making a whole new set?
Like many mothers, I had hopes and expectations for my child. I hoped first for a healthy child. I hoped for a child who would grow up to be a happy, well-adjusted, responsible, and contributing member of society. A guy with a work ethic who would use his skills and talents well. A man who would find that healthy balance between a good day’s work and play time. A man who could say “I’m sorry,” “I’m grateful,” “I made a mistake,” “I love you” and not be diminished. A man who would find someone to love and be loved by.
When he finished school and it was time to leave home, I cried. It was the next logical, healthy progression in a young man’s life. Yet it seemed like eighteen years couldn’t possibly have been enough time to say it all, teach it all, and prepare him for it all.
I’ve watched with pride and sometimes bated breath as Greg grew to be a handsome, successful, and capable young man. This summer he will marry Carrie, the woman he loves and who loves him. As they build a new home and move down well-laid career paths, I feel confident they have the skills and the smarts to make it all happen.
I feel gratitude for the opportunity to have raised this child. From where I sit, it is indeed a happy Mother’s Day.
*Reprinted with permission