It’s my first mother’s day.
“Thank you for making me a mom, Waylon,” I said this morning, because he doesn’t have the words yet to say “Happy mother’s day.” Instead, he coos and gurgles and points at me, smiling.
I used to hate the phrase, “you’ll understand when you’re a mother…” Those words, said by my own mom, in moments of my rebellion, causing her worry.
It’s hard to admit, that only nine months into motherhood, I understand.
I understand how I am still a child to her, a being created by her body, a tangle of my father and her that burst out into the world. As Waylon enters a new phase of squirming until he is set free to crawl, I understand the constant tension of holding and letting go.
There is something else, though, that surprises me more: my mother is an individual.
How simple a revelation. After all these years, to look at her and see that she is more than my mother, that her history extends beyond my birth, that she is her own person. Of course, in a simple way I’ve known this, but until my own passage into motherhood, I did not stop to look at my mom as someone beyond her children.
Don’t we all do this? Hold our mothers to our needs, push them away, and then fly back when we need the comfort of their breast, their bodies, their physical and tangible love. Even now I can bury myself into her hug and feel as though every wound has been healed, every problem solved.
This is what we ask of mothers: everything.
I had no idea of this depth of selflessness until Waylon came into the world. So this has become the central tension of my life: how do I be an individual and a mother at once? It’s hard to find time to myself. Even when I have the chance to go to town alone, I feel split, kissing Waylon’s cheeks endlessly, hugging him, not knowing how to let go until Edge takes him and tells me it’s his turn now. But for everything I give of myself, Waylon gives back to me. His needs are simple but constant, just as his love and joy are constant, and at the end of the day, my favorite moments are seeing him smile when I come home from work, how we both light up at our evening reunion.
So today, my first mother’s day, I say thank you. Thank you to Waylon for making me a mother, and thank you to my mom for 29 years of being selfless, of giving herself to my brother and me despite our moments of recklessness that surely caused her to loose sleep. Even now she continues to give, offering to watch Waylon for a few hours when I’m off, giving me time to myself, teaching me the balance of being an individual and a mother at once.