Mother’s Day: Ask What Your Children Gave You

When your child gets ready to leave the house, it is unsettling. Deep down you know its time for them to move on, to start their own lives, but somehow no matter how old they get, they will forever be your babies.

When my daughter was getting ready to leave for college in 2010, on an impulse I rescued a dog, Olive.

The little chihuahua terrier mix was on the corner of Montana and 16th Street, sitting by herself. The helpful person trying to find her a home said that Olive had a litter of pups and they had just been weaned. All of the puppies had been adopted, but no one wanted the mommy.

Olive lived with us for 10 years until she died of kidney disease last September. Every few months she would wake up in the middle of the night and go searching for something.

I learned to give her a small stuffed animal and then carry her and her “baby” back to bed. She would sigh, snuggle next to her “pup” and drift back to sleep.

She was a good mother – always caring for her babies – even if they were far away. And being a mother means that at some point your babies will be adults and far away – but it also means you never stop caring.

On Mother’s Day, I truly do not expect my three children to buy me gifts, or flowers or make me dinner. I am the lucky one. I am their mother.

Growing up, I never wanted to have children. I babysat a lot and it wasn’t a lot of fun taking care of kids.

Then my first husband, 40, dropped dead on a road in Akron, Ohio. It was undiagnosed heart disease. Everything that seemed important changed. Death became a reminder to celebrate life.

I got a second chance with a wonderful man and remarried.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, the feeling of having someone living inside me was pleasantly wonderful.

I feel bad that men can never experience the warmth of a growing baby: how it makes you laugh to see your stomach move when the baby kicks or how it feels to have someone hiccupping inside you.

There’s something bittersweet about the final month, when you can’t see your feet, and have trouble getting up and down, but there is still promise and hope with the unborn child.

Even though you’ve grown together for nine months, once the baby is born, they will spend the rest of their life growing away from you.

There’s no pain greater than when your child does not make a team, is bullied, doesn’t win a school election, strikes out, has trouble with a school subject or a teacher — or when you are called into an office because of something your absolutely “perfect, beautiful” child did.

Raising children is not for the weak.

You want them to avoid all the heartaches and mistakes that you’ve made: but then worse, you learn you can’t prevent them from doing just that. They need to live their own lives, just as you have done.

Having children intensifies feelings: my heart would have never had hurt so badly or been so full if not for my children.

Being a mother has given me some patience, the knowledge that my advice is not always wanted and hopefully the wisdom to keep my mouth shut when my opinion isn’t asked. Not easy.

One learns not to love expectations or my version of what I think my children should be, but rather love and enjoy them for exactly who they are.

As much as I think I may have helped shape my children, instead they have defined me into a better version of who I am.

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4 Responses to Mother’s Day: Ask What Your Children Gave You

  1. M says:

    SUE, what a wonderful message! Thank you and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!! M

  2. Cheryel Kanan says:

    Sue, Your Mother’s column was so wonderful. Thank you for writing it.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Cheryel

  3. Gloria says:

    Well said and perfectly described. Thank you!

  4. Debbie Alexander says:

    Beautifully written. Happy Mother’s Day.

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