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Mother is a Feeling

April 18, 2012

Hearing the word, “Cancer” when you have an eight month old daughter gives you plenty to think about.   Big things like, “What kind of legacy do I leave behind if the doctor’s can’t get rid of it?”  Little things like, “Who will show my daughter how to do her hair?  How to shave her legs?”  With each new thought, a flood of emotion comes with it.  I greived with the sense of genuine loss for the possibility there would be days I might miss and the realization that I would be literally, physically heartbroken in a way I had never understood before to miss those moments, those phases, those rites of passage in her life.  Then, the bigger realization that I would be heartbroken – for her.  The unfairness of that possible reality strikes at the core of my being and in a sense makes me feel cheated out of some of the most wonderful days and times of my life.  But, more than that makes me angry for the way that she would be cheated. 

I think to my own Mother and who I would be without her to raise me.  It’s impossible to remove the woman I relied on for life from the life I have today.  I have a normal, some-what contentious relationship with my Mother today as a 30 something woman and she in her 60’s.  I am grateful for her, appreciative of her restrictions on the choices I wanted to make in my adolescent life, irritated with her constant need to provide guidance in my adult life, but generally just thankful to have her around regardless of any unwanted advice or opinions that come with it.  I’ve come to understand that is just her ‘being my Mom.’  But, imagining my early years, the years where there are no memories just vague sensations, abstract feelings, basic understandings of the world as I came to understand it – imagining those years without a Mommy, without MY Mommy is unimaginable, gut wrenching, unmistakably wrong.  I realize in these moments of reflection that I was not ‘hers’ near as much as she was ‘mine.’ 

I hold my daughter as we get ready for bed.  She is nestled tightly between my arm and my chest.  She looks up at me and her eyes trace my face.  She appears to be taking note of my eyebrows.   She points at the mole on my forehead, she looks at my lips as I sing to her.  “Twinkle, Twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are…”  I wonder about the star that is her.  Love passes between the two of us so thick, so steeped in innate connection, awash in the natural, noverbal communication that only exists between a Mother and her baby that it almost seems to be visible, palpable as it appears to fill her entire bedroom and I begin to cry.   Who would make my daughter feel loved like this if I am not around?  The short answer is, “Nobody.”  It’s a harsh truth, but it’s the truth.  Nobody loves you like your Mom.  There will be others that love her, sure.  And, others that make her feel special and provide for her an example to follow.  There will be others to teach her basic things like her alphabet and her numbers.  How to do her hair and even how to shave her legs.  But, there will never be anyone who smells like me.  Who holds her hand just so.  Who instinctively knows the difference between her hunger cry, her fake cry and her ‘that really hurt’ cry. It is then that I realized, “Mother” is not a name, it’s not a person, it’s not a relationship, it’s not a belief system or a philosophy.  It’s not a question nor an answer.  Mother is a feeling.  It is comfort personified.  It is the definition of peace.  It is not unlike the feeling you have on Christmas Eve sitting on the couch late at night with the Christmas tree lights on and the rest of the lights in the house off, listening to Silent Night.  As this thought hits me and I grapple with that reality, I come to terms with the fact that I too am Addie’s more than she is mine.  And, she deserves to have her Mom hold her tight and tuck her in and be there when she is sick and read her thoughts and know her eyes and her hands and her toes and her belly button and her ‘that really hurt’ cry and I’ll be damned if she’s not going to have it.  It was then, that I decided as far as words and feelings go “Cancer” was not near as strong as “Mother.”  And I would be betting on the latter.


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  1. Suzy Faber permalink

    Love this. Love you!

  2. I don;t know you but I know your friend who posted this. I am a “Mother” of 6 under the age of 8.
    You could NOT have captured the meaning, the feeling, the bond, the essence, the STRENGTH of being a mother more perfectly. God bless you AND your baby on this journey. Whatever the outcome, YOU will have taught her MORE than you can imagine or even may have meant to in the way you travel this journey through sickness, adversity, heartbrokenness, fear, joy in life, gratitude, faith and a multitude of other “feelings” as well as how to be a mother! SHE WILL KNOW “YOU”. And she will be made of YOU.

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