then I loved my mother more

I have always loved my mother. Of course we had our moments where we fought like sisters and Dad would have to tell us to each go to our rooms – hello, high school – but I have always loved my mom. Respected her. Thanked God for her because I knew she was something special. I grew up, got married, and she became my best friend.

Then I got pregnant.

Then I was in labor for hours and hours and pushed for what felt like eternity.

Then I brought our baby girl home and struggled through the ups and downs of those first few weeks with a tiny human to care for around the clock.

Then I loved my mother more.

I related to her in a new way – through the lens of a tired, joyful, overwhelmed young mama who for the first time appreciated the woman who years ago had prayed for God to allow her to keep this baby after so much loss. My mother – who was told by doctors her baby would be born with too may birth defects and should be aborted. Who, along with her husband, prayed feverishly in secret for the remainder of her pregnancy for a healthy baby girl with all of her fingers and toes. A woman who was in labor for hours and hours and cried happy tears when her baby was laid on her chest, perfectly healthy.

When I was in labor, my sweet husband stood beside me and my mom often came to my other side to check on me. To cheer me on. Once our baby girl arrived and family was allowed in the room she came right to my side, checking on me first before delicately holding our baby tightly in her arms. Beaming from ear to ear. Of all the major life moments we had shared, this was the most profound. She had birthed me, and now helped me to give birth to my own baby girl. Different years, different hospital rooms, same love.

After we came home from the hospital, Mom stayed with us for a week, easily one of the most special times in my life. I cried the afternoon she drove away, thinking of her in a new light. How she was once a brand new mom with a brand new baby that she had prayed for and fought for. How she once woke up with me on the hour every hour to nurse me back to sleep and then watched me to make sure I was still breathing. How she leaned on her husband, my dad, for support and encouragement when the mom thing was new and scary and exciting. I thought of my mom, now a Nana, and for the first time I started to understand the gravity and intricate joy, and pain, of motherhood.

How could I love her more?, I thought. But somehow, I did.

I’ll love you forever, Mom.

A Letter to My Baby Girl on Our First Mother’s Day

Dear Baby Girl,

This is our first Mother’s Day. You see, last year it was about me: my pregnancy, my cravings, my “I need a nap, please.” But this year, I’ve realized that Mother’s Day is not about me at all. Instead, it’s a day to celebrate you and me. A day to celebrate us because, my darling, you made me a mom and I am forever changed.

For nine months and six days it was you and me. Sure, you showed off with your kicks and jabs but I was the only one who carried you. Who felt your heartbeat and hiccups. Who read to you every night and fed you the good stuff (chocolate and Chick Fil A, of course). When the day came for you to meet the rest of the world I was mostly excited but there was a tinge of sadness. It wouldn’t be just the two of us any longer.

From the moment you were born you have been loved by everyone that meets you, from your grandparents to extended family to strangers in the grocery store. Your father and I soak in every moment, yucky blow-outs and teething included. Some nights you sleep like a champ and some you wake up a couple times desperately needing a night cap and you know what? I cherish those half-awake moments of nursing you in bed and then ever-so-carefully placing you back in your crib that no longer looks so massive. The way you smile as you fall back asleep melts me and I thank God for giving us these special moments.

I know soon you’ll no longer wake up for a night cap. You won’t need me to carry you because you’ll be walking, then running, and telling me you can do it yourself. One day you’ll refuse the bows and want to pick out your own outfit to go hang out with your friends that know way more than me. But for today your Dad and I are the center of your universe. The coolest people you know and so I will hold you close until you wiggle away.

You are my constant, lovely, joyful reminder that we serve a God who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine. A God who changed an ordinary, sometimes selfish girl into a mother. You are so much more than I ever could have hoped for, and more wonderful than I ever dreamed.

So this Mother’s Day, our first, I’m not dropping hints to your Dad for elaborate flowers or a spa day. Instead, I plan on being with you. Holding you close and singing Old MacDonald to make you giggle and taking one million pictures of you in my arms because it’s our day, after all.

I love you,

Mom

P.S. Please say Mama before Dada.