Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I wanted to dedicate today’s blog entry to mothers. I have said before that Mother’s Day is my favorite holiday of the whole year (with Christmas running a very close second). Maybe it’s the Spring-y time of year in which Mother’s Day falls, or maybe it’s just the extra love and attention that I get from Bill and the kids. Whatever it is, I love it.

I am a lucky woman. I have four wonderful children and a husband that is truly my partner and best friend in this life.

But this blog entry is not about me.

I want to recognize the fact that I am lucky to know many amazing mothers of all ages, and from all walks of life. I know so many Mothers who are heroes to their families, heroes to their community and heroes to their friends.

I have had quite a few women tell me that I must be an expert at motherhood because I have four children. As flattering as that is, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, I do know a few things, but mothering is not a topic that I think anyone can master. It’s continually a learning experience, and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you realize you don’t. Conventional wisdom says that when you learn, you grow. In that case, I am growing every day because I learn something new about this job every day. My teachers are my children, and my teachers are great mothers that I know.

Perfection is unattainable in this line of work, and if you seek that, then try another job. Perseverance is needed, since most of the mothers I know have those days when we think we just want to throw in the towel and give up. But thankfully, we don't.

Almost anybody can have four children, or 8 children, or even 14 children. But quantity doesn’t matter. Quality is what matters. Whether you have one child, or 14 children, it’s about raising them right, not giving up on them, and being a role model that they want to emulate.

So many mothers inspire me.

I know a mom who is a very good friend of my sister. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma) last year at the age of 34. However, instead of feeling sorry for herself, she endured surgeries and chemo treatments while raising three young children with grace, humor and perseverance. A few weeks after finishing chemo, she and a large group of women (my big sis included) walked 60 miles in the Breast Cancer 3-day Walk. She is now cancer-free and an amazing inspiration to all.

I know a mom who was recently pregnant with her fourth baby. She went to her routine doctor appointment at 17 weeks, and during an ultrasound discovered that there was no heart beat. She was completely devastated as her doctor said that she would have to return to the hospital in two days to deliver her baby. As she went to the hospital with her husband, she reluctantly reported to the labor and delivery floor. She was witnessing happy women about deliver healthy babies, and here she was, about to deliver her child that she would never know. After a full day of induced labor, she delivered a baby boy. She and her husband named him and held him. Their sweet little baby looked perfect, and fit in the palms of their hands. Later in the day, she heard a new baby crying out for the first time. Amazingly, do you know what she said when she recounted the story for me? She said, “I felt happy for that mom. It’s an amazing moment when a baby is born.” I cried when she told me this, because what an unselfish thought that is! This mom constantly inspires me with her strength, and I hope I can be as good of a friend to her as she has always been to me. She continues to be an involved, caring mom to her other three children.

I know a mom who is in the hospital at this very moment recovery from a successful surgery on her colon and intestine. She has a painful, sometimes debilitating gastrointestinal disease. However, in the eight years that I have known this mom, I have never heard her complain or feel sorry for herself. Sure, she laments that fact that dairy is mostly off-limits, and she misses cheese on her pizza. However, despite the fact that she has to have infusions, among other inconveniences, she takes excellent care of her family, and has a truly sunny disposition.

I know a mom that has grown children who are out of her home and scattered in different states. But despite this fact, she will drop anything at anytime to be there for them if they need her. She once left her home at two o’clock in the morning, and drove 300 miles to be with her daughter who was in the hospital with a sick baby. This is only one of many instances in which she has shown her love and dedication to all of her children, no matter the circumstance.

I know a mom who was pregnant with her first baby. She had complications in the middle of her pregnancy, and doctors advised her to abort the baby for her health. The baby had stopped growing inside her, and doctors told her the baby would never survive, and if it did, it would be severely mentally challenged. However, despite this grim diagnosis, she and her husband chose to keep the baby, and as a result, her son was born at 26 weeks weighing less than a pound. He was so small that his father's wedding ring fit over his foot, and slid up to his thigh. This mom almost died in childbirth as well. Fast forward 12 years, and mother and son are healthy and active. The son is a kid in a regular classroom with many friends and a great life. Doctors don’t always know everything. Sometimes a mother’s instinct can be more powerful.

I know a mom who has four children, but still manages to run marathons. What a great example she is to her kids of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even though life is busy, and other things could easily get in the way.

I know a mom who has two little boys, and is struggling with the toddler years. She recently sent me an email asking for advice about boys and I hope I was able to help her. I hope she knows that instead of feeling like a failure, she should be proud of herself. It takes a lot of courage to reach out to other mothers when we need help or advice, and she did it. When we put aside feelings of embarrassment for the good of our children, we show that we are not going to give up, and we want to do what is best.

I know a mom (actually several moms) who volunteers at her children’s school. She leads a very busy life, and meetings and fundraisers are sometimes the last things she wants to attend, but she does it anyway. She does it to not only be an example to her children about the importance of volunteering for worthy causes, but to show her children that she cares enough about their school to make it the best it can be.

I know a mom who is pregnant with her first baby after trying for almost two years to get pregnant. Her enthusiasm about her pregnancy is infectious. All pregnancies are something to be thrilled about; however, when you helplessly watch a friend or loved one struggle with infertility for months or even years, the excitement is that much sweeter.

I know a mom who is raising a special-needs child. She is a great advocate for her child, and does not need or want the pity of others who try and feel sorry for her and her situation. She loves her child like she loves all her children: with her whole heart. She sees only love when she looks at him, instead of his disabilities.

The last mom I want to recognize is a mom I don’t know. I never officially met her, but she made an impact on me, and I think of her frequently. A few months ago, my sister and I took our children to the the play place at our local mall. I saw a very pregnant mom holding a little baby, and she had another toddler in tow. I noticed her because superficially, I thought her maternity jeans and top were cute. But as I sat there with my sister watching our kids, I overheard this pregnant women talking to her friend. She was pointing to her breast and I heard the word “cancer”. My heart dropped. Surely, this vibrant, young, pregnant mother did not have cancer! I must have heard it wrong! No, I did not. I heard her tell her friend very matter-of-factly that they were going to deliver her baby at 35 weeks so that she could start her chemo treatments. She was not complaining, (although I wouldn’t have blamed her) nor was she telling her story in a way to seek pity. It was an unbelievable conversation that I shouldn’t have been hearing. But this mom and her situation have stuck with me. She is an extraordinary example of strength. I often wonder how she is doing. I wonder if she has delivered her baby. I wonder how her chemo is going. I wonder what it’s like to be simultaneously sleep-deprived from having a newborn and two other children, and nauseous from her chemo treatments. I wonder if her kids know how brave she is. I wonder if she is surrounded by lots of friends and family who will help her in any way she needs. Somehow I think she is.

I wish I could give a shout-out to each and every amazing mother I know, but fortunately, there are just too many of you to count.You inspire me with your insights, advice, example, and most importantly your humor.

Happy Mother's Day to you.

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