The Special Mother
by Erma Bombeck
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.
This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?
Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
"Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."
"Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia."
"Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew."
Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."
The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."
"Exactly," smiles God, "Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."
"But has she patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."
"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has her own world. She has to make her live in her world and that's not going to be easy."
"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in you." God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect - she has just enough selfishness." The angel gasps - "selfishness? is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word'". She will never consider a "step" ordinary. When her child says 'Momma' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!"
"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice....and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side".
"And what about her Patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.
God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."
Years ago the crossing guard at the girls school gave me a copy of this. When I think back that she gave this to me it makes me smile. I don't think I appreciated the gesture like I should have back then and years later and much wisdom have made me realize how sweet she was to give that to me and that she saw something special in me I maybe did not.
I can't recall why I became a mother. It wasn't like it was a dream of mine since I was a little girl playing with dolls, or that I had some sort of longing that had to be fulfilled by becoming a mother. In fact I remember when I met John I was very clear on never getting married and certainly never having children.
Somewhere along the way things changed. I often think I fell into the camp of doing what is next in that continuous line of life. You date your high school sweetheart. You fall in love. You get married. You have children. Probably best to say I fell into the out of habit group for having children.
I have found being a mother to be a double edge sword. Now I am not sure if other moms feel this way and maybe I am just the crazy one out of the bunch but I have both loved and hated motherhood. Very often at the exact same time.
I love how good I have been at it. I love how creative I have been at it. I love how committed I have been to it. I love how proud it has made me feel of these three beautiful ladies in my life. How they have blossomed out of my love for being a mom.
I hate that there is a sense of carefree I lost becoming a mom.
In this photo I was three months pregnant with Shelby. I was four months away from an event that would change my soul forever and change my world forever and ultimately set me on the path that has brought me to where I am today.
The path of motherhood has been tough and I get angry that for whatever reason motherhood didn't end up being all perfect and peachy for me. There are days when I have had enough and want to pack it in. There are days I regret taking motherhood on so blindly.
My smile does not have that same carefree ease that it did in this photo. I hate that motherhood has taken that from me. I hate that motherhood has taken that perfect body too. I hate that just the other day I was feeling really annoyed with Porscha and that yesterday she snuck into our room to consult with her dad about getting some money to buy me something for today. A manicure and a pedicure.
Then I feel guilty for hating it all some days.
I feel guilty after reading what she wrote in the card she made:
Happy Mother's Day to the best Momma in the world! I love you soooo much and I hope that when I grow up, I grow up to be an amazing woman like you.
I was in the washroom earlier. Up before anyone else and then I heard a stirring. Amber. There was the patter of her feet and the rustling of paper. Right away I thought banner. Some more guilt about hating it some days.
Sure enough a Mother's Day banner for me. She couldn't find the clear tape so hockey tape it was.
As well she made me a reusable bag out of one of her old t-shirts at school. Then I felt bad for her classmate. A sweet little girl whose mom passed away from breast cancer when she was only five years old.
Amber and I have talked about how it is important to treat this little girl with some extra love and compassion. Amber asked her who she was going to give her bag to...she thought maybe an aunt or something and she said she was going to give it to her mom. Amber thought maybe she had a step-mom but in fact she proceeded to tell Amber she would be visiting her mom's grave and leaving the bag for her mom. Amber said it almost made her cry. It made me want to cry. It humbles me to hear stuff like this. Reminds me of the big picture.
I know that I am missing some of that carefree I had and there will be days I mourn that loss. That picture will always be a painful picture for me to look at but taking my time in the bathroom this morning on purpose to give Amber time to hang up that banner, having Porscha sneak around to do something sweet for me and say such lovely words and to have Shelby thank me for her tea and muffins takes some of the grief away of the carefree freedom I have lost becoming a mother. It reminds me that there are reasons for it all. That there is a reason, although it was not in my plans years and years ago, that I became a mother and I am okay with both loving it and hating it. That this all makes me human.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there and all the women that are like a mom to someone. We are all very special in making this wonderful world go round!!!