“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”
– Elizabeth Stone
Recently, I went to pluck my four year old sweet boy out of bed. Upon entering his room, I heard the sweetest words that have ever been spoken.
“Mom, I’m pretty lucky to have you as a Mommy, right?”
Now, please. Don’t take this as a pat on my own back. Indeed I would like to think my children feel fortunate to have me as a mother. But, for some reason, as soon as I heard those words, I thought this.
I’ve taught him what being fortunate is. I’ve taught him that not everyone has the same people and things. I’ve taught him that the people in your life that you love need to be told. More than we remember to tell them.
I have been hugging my little people closer and cuddling with them longer ever since my oldest niece, Emily, went to study abroad in Australia. As proud and as excited I felt myself being for her, I had an outpouring of sympathy for my sister in letting her go.
My sister and I both studied abroad in college and remember well how we needed to get away, soak up the experience, the culture and the people. She went to Vienna, I went to London. Our trips abroad were a decade apart but had the same function. Independence. Adventure. Freedom.
Then why did I find myself feeling so scared, so nervous, so sad about my niece going off to Australia? Why did I find myself crying to this song during naptime the day she left? Why did I feel so gosh darn sentimental about finding the picture at the head of this post recently?
Because now I am a Mom. And now a trip abroad is much, much more than just a rite of passage in college. It means that my sister’s heart will be walking on the outside of her body for a stint of six months— on another continent.
When I exchanged texts with my sister about how emotional she was that day, I commented, in jest: “At some point or another, we all turn into Mom.” The subtext was: Mom cried at everything, Mom had trouble letting us go. Mom was always so sappy about leaving us.
But it’s her quick response back that I will always remember (and what even brings tears to my eyes right now).
“If we are lucky.”
And that’s it, right? This blog has been nothing if not one large apology to my mother. Through my own experiences with my children, I have seen that my mother is the sole reason I am able to be the sweet, loving, encouraging person I am. She is the person behind those words that Parker said a couple mornings ago. He is lucky to have me because I was so lucky to have her.
Eventually, I want to write a book about my Mom, so I won’t give you any spoilers but one thing that has always amazed me about her is that her own mother left her when she was just four years old. Meaning, essentially, that everything she did with us and for us was—- winging it. She did not have her own model, her own blueprint of the person she has turned into. She was the mother she wanted to be possibly because she knew what she might have wanted as a child.
And upon realizing this, I have become the most weepy of Mommies lately. Whether it’s the new book I’m reading (which is introduced in a video here) or the fact that I have not seen my mother in much too long (since Christmas). Or just the idea that eventually my little girl will take off on her own adventure to a far away land and I will be on the phone to my sister about it, reliving this feeling.
If we are lucky, we have families (not just mothers or sisters or children) that hold us tight and help us remember who we are and where we came from. If we are lucky, we can joke about the faults (or peccadilloes, we’ll call them) of our mothers as fluidly as we joke about the faults of our friends. If we are lucky, we have a friend or a sister or a mother to call when we fill out Kindergarten paperwork, or college applications or passport paperwork to say, “Can you believe it’s already time for this?” If we are lucky, we have photos and cards and stories and videos that remind us again and again that we are lucky, we are rich and we are blessed to have people to share the crazy experience that has never been better described as your heart walking outside of your body.