I’ve never been afraid to announce my secure place as the ‘favorite’ in my family. This may or may not be an accurate label to bestow on myself, but I enjoy making brash and arguable statements (a firm and sure Frazier trait). So I call myself the favorite and let the rest sort itself out.
But in truth (ridiculous alert), at times it really bothers me how much my mom loves me. I could do anything, ANYTHING to her, and it would not change how she felt about me. This has been true for 26 years. I had a real sassy mouth as a kid. But I also knew how to make people laugh. So I got away with a lot more than I should have, even with my own parents. No matter how rotten I treated them or how many poor decisions I made, they looked at me like I was the sunshine on the air. I knewknewknew that I was loved and important.
My relationship with my mom changed in high school. Some sad and divisive events and choices split my friends and family down the middle, and I chose the side without my parents on it. I wanted to be mad at my mom. I wanted to punish her for the pain in my life, whether she had caused it or not (she hadn’t.) But no matter how far I pulled away from her, and no matter how much I tried to lessen her influence, she still looked at me with love in her eyes. She tried to push in sometimes, and at other points just let me go, but she always radiated with a sincere and overwhelming appreciation for me and my life.
It was annoying.
Even into my adult life, I have struggled to understand my mom. We do not always agree, and it’s hard to reconcile our differences in the face of our sometimes strained relationship.
But now I have a daughter.
A daughter I adore.
A daughter I stare at and wonder if the stars or the sun or the moon could bring so much light and wonder into my life.
And as I sit in the dark of the early morning, drowsily admiring the soft dark hair sprouting on Clara’s tiny head, it occurs to me that my mother probably spent many of her morning hours doing the exact same thing.
Did she stare at the shape of my nose and delight in the smell of my skin?
Did she kiss my small hand and watch me sleep at her breast, full and content from her own milk?
Did she hold me tight and blink away tears, wondering at the life in front of me and whispering prayers over her brand new daughter?
I bet she did.
And I bet that same love, that same crushing press of tender love for her little girl, is the source of that look in her eye 26 years later.
I think, now, as I wander into this exotic and secret world of motherhood, it has dawned on me that my own mom loves me in a way that I could not understand until I had my own child. I just couldn’t. Because it doesn’t make sense.
Love rarely makes sense.
So here’s to the senseless, surprising, beautiful and mysterious love of a mother.
To my mom.
To the nights you dreamed of me in your belly.
To the joy you took in my small cries.
To your welcome arms and open heart.
To the tears you have cried over me.
To the absolute way you believe in me and my passions.
To the example you set of a mother whose children know, know, know they are loved.
And I love you right back.
*Clara picture courtesy of Aunt Alene