My baby lay on my chest, warm and wet from being born just moments before. I called my parents to announce they were grandparents - again. This was their 10th, but my first. Still high on the other side of giving birth, I looked at her impossibly tiny fingernails, and dialed. My Dad picked up on the first ring shouting with joy. Mom got on next and the minute I heard her voice, I burst into tears. “I’m so sorry!”
Concerned, she asked, “For what, honey?”
“For all the times that I said I’d be home by midnight and didn’t come home until 2 am! For all the times you must have worried. For everything!”
She chuckled, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” Which only made me sob harder.
How is it that the word “mother” remains unknown, unknowable, until you are a mother yourself?
Just as my mothering journey was beginning, the veil that obscured motherhood had been pulled away. Suddenly and with great clarity, I realized that all of those times I’d been convinced my Mom was “ruining my life” were just her attempts to save me from harm. I couldn’t make sense of this at the time. The center of my universe was me.
Now, holding this completely dependent, tiny little person, I realized the enormity of it all. I had just irrevocably committed myself to doing everything possible to raise this child into adulthood with an intact and healthy spirit. What the hell was I getting myself into?
I couldn’t believe that my Mom had made this commitment six times - all without a mother of her own to call and apologize to.
Where does this determination come from? To love so fiercely that your heart catches in your throat at the thought of your baby ever getting hurt?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. But my Mom was willing to show up and answer them. I’m forever grateful that I have the opportunity to show up and answer them myself, however imperfectly.
But I admit it: I’m looking forward to receiving that call to support my own daughters when it's time for them show up and try to answer these questions on their own motherhood journeys.
Barb Buckner Suárez works with expectant couples as they are preparing to become a family. She believes that every woman should have a birth story worth telling. You can find more of her writing at www.birthhappens.com