I wrote this passage on Mother’s Day, although I am only sharing it now….
I became a mother for the second time in February. In the days leading up to my son’s birth, I often questioned whether or not I would be capable of opening my heart up to this new child in the way my heart was open to my first child. In the moments after the midwife lay my new baby on my chest, any doubt about the heart’s capacity to love was forgotten.
At the time of my baby’s birth, my grandfather’s health was deterioraiting rather rapidly. Although he had stopped smoking years earlier, the cigarettes had left their indelible mark. He had an oxygen tank, suffered from chronic bronchitis, and later, we would learn, he had been suffering from COPD. Moments after I gave birth I turned to my husband and told him that I wanted to name our son after my grandfather; I am so happy that was my decision. My grandfather died on my son’s first month’s birthday.
My grandfather met my son only once. It was difficult for him to travel in the last few months of his life. He spent the last eight days of his life in a hospital, and in the first few weeks after my son’s birth we weren’t really going anywhere. I don’t like to live in the cycle of “would of, should of, could of,” but I do regret that I didn’t take a picture of my son with his great-grandfather. Instead, when he is older, I will tell my son how he is named after my grandfather and how he met him once, when he still very, very tiny. I remember one of the last conversations I had with my grandfather on the telephone. He thanked me for giving my son his name and there was such happiness and pride in his voice. It’s a conversation I have listened to over and over again in my mind in the weeks after his passing.
The universe often finds a way of giving us exactly what we need, when we need it. My family was given the gift of my son just as our Father was calling my grandfather home. I understand that my son does not take my grandfather’s place, nor will I compare him to my grandfather as he grows up. But, there is something serendipitous about the timing. If nothing more, my son reminded us all about the beauty of life, the living of it, the loving of it, and helped us to celebrate my grandfather’s life in the midst of our grief.
There is something very special about a first child. They are responsible for initiating you to the joys of parenthood. You experience everything for the first time right alongside of them; you see the world anew with their eyes. They teach you how to love as a mommy and a daddy and their birth brings a new appreciation for your own parents. My first child is beautiful, bright, funny, kind and mischievious. My second child already has a personality that differs vastly from that of his older brother and he has carved his own nook in my heart. My second child is also responsible for dulling the sharp edges of our grief, and for this, I will be eternally indebted to him.
This morning my older son greeted me with a million “Happy Mother’s Day!” and a card he proudly told me he coloured just for me. My husband bought me flowers and a card that was super sappy (totally my style). He also made me french toast with blueberry syrup. My youngest woke up smiling. I spent time with my Mother in Law and Grandmother in Law and had lunch with my own Mom and Grandmothers and Sister. All in all, a pretty perfect day. It is nice to feel loved and appreciated. But I can’t help but think that Mother’s Day is also “Children’s Day” because I know that each mother can’t help reflect on what our children give back to us: side splitting laughter, love unconditional, lessons on acceptance, and most importantly, an uncanny ability to give us exactly what we need when we need it. So, to my boys: Thank you very much. Mommy loves you right back.