It’s Mother’s Day and we have a lot to thank our mothers for, but what does motherhood mean? My mom explains.
As the eldest of five kids, I relish in the fact that I was the first one to be a pain in my mom’s ass. I was the first one to throw fits, the first to keep her up all night, the first to get my butt whooped, and the first to send her into hours of labor just to bring me into this world. I’m also the first to ask her all of the hard questions like:
What’s it like being a mom?
At first I asked this question out of pure curiosity, but as I grew older, I asked more to prepare myself for what may lay in my future. And each time I asked the question, my mom’s answer grew more in-depth. It stopped being as simple as “motherhood is a wonderful and joyous experience,” and started going into deeper matters like the pains that come along with those joys.
Here’s what I learned about motherhood from my mother’s mouth.
When she says “I love you,” it means more than that.
I hate to use Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones in comparison to my mother, but the two actually share a huge characteristic. They love their kids and will do anything for them. Growing up, you’re not aware of how much your mom does, and even if you are aware, sometimes it’s taken for granted. My mother came to the United States at the age of nineteen, pregnant with me, and for the most part – alone. She lived in the heart of New York off of the wages of a maid for a wealthy woman in Manhattan, and lived with family members and friends who didn’t treat her as such. She walked through blizzards to make a dollar to feed me, worked days on end to put a roof over out head, and by the grace of god, she made it through. She suffered through an abusive relationship, a crippling economy, and domestic issues, but she never abandoned her children. Mothers will do anything for their children even if it means putting their self-care or lives on hold for years. So when she says “I love you,” she means “I’d die for you, you’re my everything, you’re my world,” and she truly means it.
When she says “I’m tired,” that doesn’t mean the work is over.
Cooking, Cleaning, Working, Taking care of the sick and the needy. I’ve watched my mom labor to provide for us, to bail my brothers out of sticky situations, and break the bank to afford my sisters tuition. And yet, she’s still happy to clean out my car and do my laundry despite my protests that I can do it myself. It always amazes me that despite how much I tell her “no,” all she hears is “yes mom, please.” She complains about never having space to herself but reminisces on the days when we used to cuddle in bed with her when we were afraid of the dark. She hated that we wet the bed, but comments fondly on our superman and batman underwear. My mom taught me about how much it takes to give and receive nothing in return except the occasional back-talk and heart-break. Still, those few proud moments that we share are worth all of it in the end.
When she talks about “Hours of Labor, for nothing…” sometimes she’s talking about a deeper pain than giving birth.
There’s all the joys of being a mom, but then there’s the heartbreak of being a mother without a child. The day before mother’s day, my family and I were coming back from breakfast when an Ed Sheeran song came on the radio. I remember asking my mom if she had ever heard it before and if she knew what it was about before telling her that the song was about a miscarriage. She grew silent for a moment and then began to talk about a miscarriage she had. Her second child, my brother, had died after being born pre-maturely.
“There’s nothing more heartbreaking than them (the doctors) telling you I’m sorry,” she said, “And you’re just laying there like, ‘You’re sorry? Sorry for what?’ And then they come tell you that your child is gone…” she said as she looked at the road ahead while I drove us home. “And then it’s worse when they come back and ask you ‘Um ma’am, can we use your baby for experiments?’ It’s hard.”
She was silent, and I responded with a typical “I can’t imagine what that feels like,” but to be honest, I couldn’t. I am twenty-five years old and my brother died more than twenty years ago and yet I can still sense that pain that my mom feels – to not have a son to hold, and love…seeing that pain is hurtful enough.
I’ve seen my mother in pain throughout the years. Pain from relationships, pain from family heartaches, pain from death and illness, but never have I seen her in as much pain as when she’s doing her duty as a mother.
So on mothers’ day, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for going through all the pain, devastation, and heartache that comes along with being a mother just for those few moments of bliss and joy. Thank you for all you do especially when we don’t appreciate it. To my mom, and to all the other mothers out there who are with and without their children, thank you for being you.
Happy Mothers’ Day