With just 3 days before my son’s 21st birthday, I will reprint a column I wrote in April of 1996 (Sam was 4 years old) when I was a monthly columnist for a regional magazine. As I look back at all the columns I have written about parenthood, this is one which always reminds me of how amazing motherhood has been.
It was four in the morning when I got the last of the bedding into the washing machine. The 3:00 a.m. “eruption” from our four-year-old came from both ends and was a major mess. Even bedmates Thumper and Winnie-the-Pooh needed a Maytag bath.
After we cleaned Sam up, Dick headed to the den and I tucked the boy in next to me. I snuggled him close to me and he quickly fell back to sleep. I spent the remainder of the night awake, dodging little arms and legs that thrashed from dreams unknown.
Lying in the dark watching my little guy sleep, I felt very aware of the importance of this role of “mama,” of how mothering has become the very stuff of my life. It hasn’t been so much a job I acquired as a special role I continue to earn and develop.
I did not feel anything like a mom lying in a hospital bed four years ago holding my newborn in my arms. But as I washed the pale face of my sick boy in the middle of the night, I felt like a very real mom.
My mothering means consistency and affirmation and nurturing. It means selflessness and direction and teaching values. It means lots and lots of that very vital “being there.”
The older I get and the longer I am a mom, the more I admire mothers who have made mothering their career. While most women struggle with the great balancing act, these women have figured out without too much angst that being a successful stay-at-home parent can be as challenging and as rewarding as a successful career. Full time motherhood holds exhaustion, but also magic. I have never talked with a woman who says she wished she had worked more and spent less time with her babies.
Birthing a child is just the beginning of the adventure of motherhood. I am not a mama just because I pushed a 5 lb 12 oz baby from my womb. I am a mama because I have instant hugs and Big Bird Band-Aids for scraped knees, because I ignore my aching, drenched shoulder as I rock my fevered child, not wanting to move lest he wake up, and because despite a dinner to prepare and a heaping pile of laundry to do, I choose to play trains, build Lego forts, sculpt snowmen and turn myself into a tickling lion.
Most parents would not consider vomit and diarrhea at three in the morning an honor to deal with, and I am no exception. But I have been given the privilege of mothering this one little boy throughout his life….and I only get one shot at it.
I feel honored that God has entrusted Sam to me. I know that I am one of the two most important people in his life and there is something very sacred about that.
Last week Sam ran up to me, hugged me tightly and said, “Mama, I’m really lucky to be your son.” I don’t get a bi-weekly paycheck anymore, but I am rich beyond measure.
As Sam steps into age 21 on November 5th, I can only look back and say what a treasure it has been to raise this boy to manhood. I hope, as all moms do, that I did a good job. On his birthday I may have some words of wisdom for my newly adult son....but for today, I have only gratitude to the Creator of Life for allowing me to love and shape and nurture and guide the one child I was given. I was, and still am, rich beyond measure.