That’s what mothers do

If I could take away the needle pricks, the million question that never change—name, birthday, address, how long have you been experiencing seizures—I would.

If I could crawl in the hospital bed and stay there for a month so that you could sleep in your own bed, listening to your youngest two chattering through the wall, I would.

If I could drag the I.V. pole and the portable electrodes monitor with me every time I went to the bathroom, I would. I’d offer my own hair if I could. If they’d take mine instead, I would.

If I could make it all go away, I would. Because that’s what mothers do.

But sometimes, as much as we want to, we can’t make it go away. So we bury our guilt, our fears, our feelings of failure because we can’t make it better so you won’t see. Moms are supposed to make it all better. That’s what mothers do.

Before you were his wife or their mother, you were my daughter. From the moment I learned of your existence, I worried about you. After you were born, I worried every time you were out of sight. And tomorrow the surgeon will have you for six hours and you’ll be out of my sight that entire time. When they tell us afterward everything went fine and you can see her in an hour or two, or however they chose to quantify the time—that time—the time when they won’t let me hold your hand, or stroke your cheek, or hug you—will be the hardest hours I’ve ever lived.

But I’ll pace the hospital floor holding my breath, being strong, keeping the faith. Because that’s what mothers do.

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Things my mother taught me

My mom would have been 87 years old tomorrow. She died twelve days before my father on March 8, 1998. Telling daddy, who was in a hospital bed on a different floor, that she had died was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It was the second time in my life I can remember seeing my daddy cry.

I’m finding that as I get older, my memories of her come in random flashes, like snapshots with voice-overs. Sometimes, I cry. Most of the time, I smile. mom1_0002

Some of the things she taught me (in no particular order):

Marigolds are all purpose flowers. She loved them. Planted them every year. And I hate them. Ok, maybe not hate, but I do have a strong dislike for them. Don’t know why other than I remember having to pinch the dried dead heads off of the hundreds she would plant each year. When someone suggests I plant marigolds in my non-existent garden, I smile.

No one leaves the house on Saturday mornings until the house is clean. Maybe that’s why on Saturday mornings I now aimlessly wander around my little house rebelling against the “rules.” Mom’s not here to tell me to turn that darn radio (or record player) down. Can’t clean without the radio blaring.

She taught me how to make gravy, Hungarian goulash, and how to ice a layer cake.

She taught me good things come from having a routine. Thursday nights were grocery shopping nights. Bestway on Vandalia Road. My favorite place in the whole world to be on a Thursday night. If I was good in the store, I’d get the new issue of Tiger Beat magazine. And cereal for supper. Life was good.

She taught me humility by taking me (after my insistence) to the dermatologist where we (my mother and me and my three pimples) sat in the waiting room with others who were horribly scarred from acne.

She taught me sometimes it’s ok to hide from door-to-door sales people.

She taught me that no matter how old your children are, they’re still your babies. When I  was pregnant with Garey, I suffered from toxemia and eclampsia. He was delivered by emergency c-section. My condition was so severe, the doctor came out to the waiting room prior to surgery and asked if they “had to make a decision, whose life should they save?” Although married and about to deliver my firstborn, my mother told him, “that’s my baby on that table.” Both my kids will be in their thirties this year. And yes, they’re still my babies.

And later on, through the years, as my mother became my best friend she shared a secret of what men want. Their mother in the kitchen, a lady in the living room, and a whore in the bedroom. Seems simple enough.mom1_0001

Happy birthday, Mom.