This year, I was able to celebrate my first "official" Mother's Day. I have celebrated before as a "stepmother" but Hallmark's cards are not as warm and fuzzy for that occasion. A year ago, I was 36 weeks pregnant, four days away from my induction and battling some tough chemotherapy. It's hard to believe it's been a year and it's amazing to think about all of the lessons I have learned. All of the cliches about motherhood are true - it's the hardest thing you'll ever do, it's the most rewarding thing you'll ever do... But there are a lot of things that I didn't know, nor could I ever imagine, until I had a baby of my own.
Sacrifice? I barely understood how to spell it, much less than define it, before Evan came along. Certainly, I would compromise and acquiesce, but actually giving up something meaningful, if it means Evan is happier? Absolutely. Sleep? Done. Meals? Of course. Going to the bathroom with the door closed? Guess so. I re-read my posts from last year and was terrified that Evan might not know who I was, as his mommy. I was so sick during his first few months and then there was the six-week period when I couldn't pick him up. But all of you know-it-alls were right - of course he knows me! He knows my voice, my touch, my smell. So much so that I can no longer put Evan to bed at night. He associates me with playing and taking him out of his crib (hmm...wonder why), so anytime I walk in his room, he is up with a super grin, waiting for me to get him. He follows me everywhere I go and babbles, "Mama" all of the time. Gavin and Cohen have been concerned lately that Evan won't know what to call me. The two little guys have always called me, "E". They are worried that Evan will get confused and suggested that maybe I should have Evan call me "E". It's a funny conversation, but it warms my heart to know there is one little person in the world that will call me "Mama". Or Mom. Or as my brother calls my mom, "Ma Dukes" (and she hates it). Sacrificing for our children seems to appear magically in the birthing suite. Out comes baby, out comes all of these feelings and emotions that put our child in first place. When Evan is sad, I am sad. When Evan doesn't have a good day, I don't have a good day. If Evan were to ever get sick or hurt, I would move hell and Earth to protect him and fix him. I'm sure when he is 15, he might find this mildly irritating, but that's the burden that will come with being my life's savior :)
I have also found a lot of time in the past year to discover who I am. I am not defined by positions at work, volunteer activities, latest athletic achievement (of which there have been very very few lately), or results on tests. I am my own person, but I am defined by my family. My favorite activities are snuggling in bed with Evan and Brian, watching a movie with all of the boys, going on walks with my mom or shopping with my sister. Celebrating Evan's birthday this week is going to be great, not only because I can't wait to watch Evan be so excited about gifts and cake and balloons, but because all of our family (minus Bryan and Alison) will be here to celebrate. It seems to me that women are afraid to be defined by being a mom or wife - that it will make us lose our sense of self. I have a sense of self, but it is wrapped up in those exact roles. And that is something I willingly want.
Other lessons? Time. Time in and of itself is a lesson. I wish it to go faster - please be 8:00 so all of these crazy boys can get in bed. And then it's 8:00 and I wonder where the day went and if I appreciated the memories. I go through my "shoulda, woulda, coulda's". Need to use the camera more. Need to give more hugs. Need to say, "I Love You" a few more times. Should have played a little bit longer, been a bit more creative, had a few more patience. Should have used organic vegetable, should have made them eat vegetables. Shouldn't have made them eat so many vegetables they now hate vegetables. I spend so much time wondering how I can better utilize my time that I should actually just DO what I'm thinking about!
Of course, every parent finds themselves saying things to their children that their parents said. Always the things that we swore we would never say. And I have some pretty amazing parents. I wonder how Evan sees me through his eyes. I want him to be happy and always know joy and know that he is so very loved and cherished. Will it be this easy to convey these feelings when he is bringing frogs inside the house, after playing in the woods? Or when he has his drivers license and leaves the house driving for the first time? Or he gets involved with a snarly girlfriend and of course, I can see that, and why can't he? My lesson learned is that as much as I give hugs and kisses, there can always be more. I can find room for one more compliment, snuggle and kiss.