I dedicate this blog to my mom and all those who have a piece of their heart that lives in heaven.
When I see my toddler struggling to climb a play structure at the park and she calls for me, I drop my conversation and grab her hand. Every time. When she asks to be picked up. I pick her up. Every time. I rock her to sleep. Every nap. Every night. In the middle of the night, when she cries, I go to her. Every time. Some nights it’s a rub on the back and she’s back down and other nights, I’m shoved into a corner while this 20lb, 20-month-old-girl takes over the entire queen size bed–in fact– that’s where I am now as I write this.
I get it. People don’t agree with me. I’m the type of person who thrives in that controversy. We live in America where we constantly debate what is right and wrong and in the world of mothering– we all have our strong opinions for one side or the other. I believe there is validity to not carrying your child everywhere and letting your child cry it out. In fact, sometimes I envy those moms.
So here’s my perspective– just a single voice in the sea of others on how to attack this mothering gig. But know this first– know where I come from. I am a motherless mother. I wasn’t always. I spent 29 glorious years with a mother that was devoted in every way possible to her children– that was– until cancer took her from us. And while her lessons far before her illness were just as special, I would be lying if I said her illness hadn’t changed my life and my perspective on mothering.
You see, when you live with a loved one who has a terminal illness, it is engrained into how to live each day, as if it were your last. A true blessing and a horrible curse. You take the time to listen, you slow down, you see the beauty that is around you. Some days that “live like you were dying” attitude can become exhausting, but, we can learn a great deal from it.
Around the time I was pregnant with my first was the time she fell extremely ill. Because of her diagnosis, I knew even more, that I had to soak in all her mothering knowledge as she wouldn’t always physically be with me to answer my questions on demand.
I reflect back on a past memory. One day, my parents were at my house spending time with us. My mom asked if she could put the baby down for a nap and of course, I obliged. I lost track of time and realized it had been over an hour and my mom never came out of the room. I peeked in to see my daughter asleep on my mother’s lap in the rocking chair. I shot my mom that disapproving look and told her we were trying to put the baby in her crib before she fell asleep; just like the books suggested! It was as if I had left that modern-day mother pact; how could I break it? She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “sweetie– hold her. As long as she needs it. As long as we are able.”
Those words stopped me. In that day, and even now. I carry those words. I think if this debate were taken to a court room my closing statement in defense of carrying, co-sleeping, running to my child’s aide every time would probably include the sentiments of “they won’t always want or need us this way”. This relationship of mother and child is two-sided and sometimes– we forget that. It’s not only our child’s needs changing as they grow up– it’s our ability as mothers to tend to those needs as we grow old.
We live in a world where anything can happen. That’s undeniable. There’s disease, accidents, tragedies. I’m not asking you to parent by fear–oh no– I write this so you consider that thought as you waddle through your day in a caffeine fog waiting for the clock to strike bed time.
After all– with so much sadness in the world, the only way we can truly move forward through tragedy is to be better by it– to learn– I pass on these words to you. As long as they need it. As long as we are able.
You see, my childhood and young adult life was filled to the brim of a mother who was always there. And as I sit here– now motherless–by no choice of her own-I thing that’s not such a bad thing. Of course, my needs changed like all children and so did her approach to mothering me. But the theme stayed the same– she held my hand when I needed it–she listened every time I cried– and she always picked me up literally and figuratively. My childhood is filled with a mother that always answered. I believe now that it’s that type of mothering that allows me to continue to live ,to love, and to thrive when she isn’t able to answer.
So there you have it. A new perspective on the old debate. I think we modern-day moms labeled it “attachment parenting”. Throw my vote in the yay sayers box on this one.
Like all moms, I go to bed at night and pray I made the right decisions for my child. Some of us in our own beds. Some of us in our children’s beds.
So am I right? I don’t know. I’m not a veteran mom. My daughter is young. Only time will tell. But I know this–I will ALWAYS answer. As long as she needs it. As long as I am able.
My name is Dianna and I am 30 years old from the Boston, Ma area. I am the mom to a 22-month-old girl named Arianna. Being her mom is the greatest joy in my life. When I’m not loving mom life, I am a physical therapist in a Boston, MA Hospital. My writing is inspired by the recent loss of my mother. My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013 and while she fought bravely, she lost her fight three and a half years later. She is truly my inspiration and my hero. My writing is based on that brief glimpse in time I am able to truly understand the depth of my mother’s love—when I became a mother myself. I have taken the pain we have experienced in our enormous loss to share, inspire, and demonstrate a sense of community with those who have suffered great loss. I dedicate this blog to my mom and all those who have a piece of their heart that lives in heaven. Happy reading and keep the coffee flowing mamas!