Mothers Day and my becoming a mother coincided in 1983. It was TBG, my OB/Gyn, a nurse and me.... no medical students, no aides, just the four of us bonding over a sunny Sunday morning and the entry to the world, face up and looking around, of a little human we named for his Grandpaw.
It really was the first day of the rest of my life.
Up until then, I could sleep without worry. Up until then, my heart lay securely within my ribs. Up until then, everyone for whom I was responsible, TBG, was able to be responsible for himself. We looked out for one another, but we were not obsessed.
At 12:16 pm on Mothers Day, all of that ended. My heart was breathing at the foot of our bed, in the cradle my father made, each little snuffle a tug on places I didn't know I had. It was beautiful and terrifying, all in the same moment.
The pediatrician called, the first morning we were home, asking "How are you?"
I started in on the baby's night, but he interrupted me tale.
"No, I asked how you are doing. I have no doubt the baby survived. I was curious about you."
It's not that he was worried. The father of 4 boys, he'd seen it all. He was genuinely concerned about me.
That question reestablished me - my sense of self, my separateness from that new person whose entire being depended on his father and me and our attention to detail and what if we forgot something and .......
Yes, denizens, it's true. Parenting is forever, and I can't stop myself, even now.
I sent him a rolling kitchen island, because he's cooking up a storm on 12 inches of counter space and he needs more. Amazon assured me it would arrive before his birthday, and, when I received the text message that it had been delivered, I emailed Big Cuter to let him know.
"Thanks, Mom. The building sends me an email when I get a package. I'm out now but will get it later. Love you," was his response.
Three hours later, Amazon texted me that the over-sized spatula I'd ordered had also been delivered.
I sent another email. Not because I thought he needed to know, but because some part of me wanted to be sure that he remembered to pick it up.
I close my eyes and see a curly haired 4 year old wondering who would answer the questions in class if he didn't know the answer, and being surprised to learn that going to school by himself didn't mean all alone in a room with a teacher, but just that Mom would be staying home, because he was a big boy now.
He would be riding in a taxi, it was true, but that was only because a school bus was unnecessary for the number of students needing transportation. The taxi driver would know where he lived and how to get there; he did not have to have the money or the directions.
He's still the same, serious, thoughtful kid.
We talked after the packages had been retrieved and opened. He wanted to be sure that I was just being Mom by sending all those emails. He didn't mind my using the packages as an excuse to send him love; he wasn't complaining at all. He just wanted to be sure that I was aware that the management of the building was all over the situation, and that I didn't have to worry. He really wanted to be sure that I was okay.
And that's the flip side of having your heart outside yourself - sometimes it comes right back to you, enveloping you in a warmth and a wonder that that tiny blob of protoplasm, the one who lived under your heart for 40 weeks, the one who changed your life forever has turned into such a wonderful young man.
He's older now than I was when he was born. That's a situation I'll be considering as I relive every minute of this day-before-he-was-born once again. The hot dog for lunch, followed by a contraction. The ride over Wrightwood, the bumpiest street in the neighborhood. The pizza, the movie (Arsenic and Old Lace), the weather (waves over all four lanes of Lake Shore Drive), the drugs, the delivery, the first diaper (truly, my first diaper), and my roommate.
She was a second time mom, and we were alone with our babies, each just hours old. She held her son up to the sunlight, gazed into his eyes, and said words which have lived within me to this day.
"Alex," she said, "wives may come and go... but you'll only have one mother."
Happy Birthday, Big Cuter.
Happy Mothers Day to all.