May 11, 2014

A Mother's Day First

Nearly two decades ago, I took a taxi across Budapest at 3 AM. I got dropped off in a back alley where the driver demanded far more money than I thought necessary, and then I had to wait in a fairly empty train station for my 6 AM departure to Ukraine. I fell asleep clutching my bag on my lap, only to wake up to the sounds of two men fighting right across from me. The Hungarian man next to me motioned for me to go back to sleep... and for whatever reason, I listened to him. 

Did I mention I was on my own? 

Before I dozed off again, I remember thinking, 'My mother would kill me if she knew what was going on at this very moment.'

Clearly she didn't. In fact I probably never bothered to tell her that part of my 'adventure' even after I returned home.

I've done a great deal of things that my mom never had the chance to do. I went to college, worked overseas, traveled solo through countless countries in my 20s, became a writer, volunteered onboard a hospital ship and married a foreigner. While I wasn't anti-kids, I never felt like I needed children in my life. My life has been abundant and rich in so many other ways.

Last Mother's Day, I made brunch for my mom. I wrote about why I'm not a fan of Mother's Day in general here (not because I don't believe in honoring mothers everywhere, but because I think they deserve our thanks and flowers more than once a year.) 

I grew up hearing my mom say she wished she'd had more of us because my brother and I were apparently so much fun. And even after my mom lost her firstborn son, she sat there at that brunch and told me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me not ever having children one day -- that maybe there was a different path I was meant to take. 

A whole year changes a lot.  

Today, someone told me they'd wish me a Happy Mother's Day in a few months, after the Peanut is born. I laughed, but inwardly, I seethed a little. (I blame the pregnancy hormones for my internal outrage.) I'm already a mama to this active growing bundle, I thought. While I'm not yet spending my days feeding, burping and changing a newborn, I still feel responsible for this baby inside of me.

This week, I mentioned to my mom some weird baby fact that I learned through one of four pregnancy apps I have on my iPhone. She's been fascinated by the amount of stuff I've relayed to her over these past few months. I reminded her that it's been nearly 40 years since she last gave birth, and information is much easier to find these days. 

She never knew you were supposed to count the baby's kicks after week 28, or that you should steer clear of certain foods. She gave birth in a time before ultrasound photos, daddies in the delivery room, breastfeeding classes and pregnancy apps that offer advice. She brought us home and bathed us in the kitchen sink, then let us eventually play in the mud before she hosed us off again.

Apps can only offer you so much though. Today, while telling my mom about the Peanut pushing his or her butt into my left side (and secretly wondering if this was normal or early contractions) she reassured me that my brother and I did the exact same thing to her.  

I breathed a sigh of relief, and then got kicked in the ribs. 

I realized today that I have taken for granted the fact that I can walk through this whole journey with my own mother.

Don't get me wrong... I have always been grateful for my mother.  But today it suddenly hit me that she never even had her own mom around to ask any advice when she had her own babies. 

While I have boarded more planes than I can count, and I'm pretty sure I can still make my way through a train station riddled in Cyrillic without a problem, my mom has taken a journey that goes much further and lasts longer than any of the trips I've ever taken. You see, she gave birth to and raised her own babies without an ounce of advice or help from her own mother. By the time she was my age, she had a teenager and a tween, with no sign of Google in sight. 

This is the first Mother's Day that I realized my mom never had the chance to send her own mother flowers or to even ask her mom what labor would actually be like. And now this is the second Mother's Day she's been without her son.

But I also know this one thing -- my mom continues to amaze me.

She never once complained about how hard it was having children, especially traveling the mostly solo road that she did raising us. She never gave any indication of mommy martyrdom, or ever needing a vacation. It never dawned on me that Mother's Day would be hard for her not having her own mom around, because she spent the whole day telling us what fun she's had being a mother herself.

I may have traveled to far more countries than my mom, but this whole birthing and raising a child thing... this is uncharted territory in my world. However, it's a place my mom has been to before, and she assures me it's the greatest adventure of all. I'm thankful she's there to help me navigate the road and I can only hope that I'll be just as amazing of a mother to the Peanut as my mom has been to me. 

Happy Mother's Day to all of you fabulous women out there and a very special Mother's Day to my own Mama. (Sorry I never told you about that dodgy Budapest story... but realistically, would you have let me ever go back?


  1. Happy mother's day! Your mom's right. This is going to be the greatest adventure of life for you and your sailor. Enjoy it!

  2. Happy Mother's Day! Also, this was an awesome tribute to your Mom!