I’ve been thinking a lot today about being a mother. You see, 23 years ago today my first-born son came into this world. I was 22. I was ready for this! I had read the books and done my research. I had everything planned. I looked into his sweet innocent eyes and swore to be a perfect mom. HA! Did I ever have it wrong!
Everything was perfect for a little while though. He was the sweetest little angel. We would snuggle and cuddle. When he woke in the middle of the night, I would rock him and sing sweet lullabies to him. I made sure he was well cared for, fed, clothed, and loved as much as any baby could stand. Often, I would just hold him while he slept. I had this cross-stitched this poem for his nursery, and I lived by it.
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’till tomorrow, for babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow. So quite down cobwebs, dust go to sleep; I’m rocking my baby, ’cause babies don’t keep.
I doted on him. I kissed his little toes, and marked his major milestones. In short, I was in love with my little man.
And then… he got a little older and started to exert his will. No problem. I had read all the books — remember? I knew just what to do.
Ummm… Houston we have a problem. I quickly figured out that although I had read all the books, he hadn’t. So he didn’t know how he was supposed to respond to the ‘parenting style’ we were using. And thus that day goes down in history as the day I realized I didn’t have a clue what I was doing with this parenting thing.
Also, you have to remember that this was ‘before’ the internet. Before information was so readily available. Yes, I had friends, parents, mentors even willing to ‘help’, but I lived with my ‘Army’ husband in very, very small German town 4500 miles from home! Our communication with family consisted of letters (the hand-written kind that took a week or more to make it across the ocean) and a 15 minute phone call home each month. Basically, it was like being dropped on a deserted island with nothing but a paperclip and a stale chip and being told I had to survive. Yes, I know Survivorman could handle that scenario; and well, it may come as a surprise to you, but I am not Survivorman. Sorry to disappoint you.
Thus began the power struggles (he takes after his dad… LOL… no seriously, he really does). Time for bed… no, I don’t want to go to bed. Clean your room, no. Eat your food… food ends up on the floor. If you’re a mom, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But even then, he was sweet, kind, imaginative, joyful, loving, and much more. In short, he was my sweet little angel and I couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than I loved that little guy.
Then came son #2 and soon after, being a single parent to two little boys. Son #2 was just as adorable and sweet, but suddenly I didn’t have the time or energy to sing lullabies at 2am. I didn’t have time to make a baby book, or mark the first step or first tooth on the calendar. Then, it was all I could do to just ‘survive’ and hope we all got through this alive. And there were days I wasn’t sure even surviving would be a possibility.
Fast forward ahead several years… there were good times, and bad times, but mostly good times. Remarried, 2 more kids added to the mix, and the oldest two become TEENAGERS! Nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the teenage years. My best friend just ‘loves teenagers’ (so she says) — I’m thinking she must have a screw loose somewhere. In my dictionary, definition of teenager = ‘which planet does this monster hail from and what have they done with my child?’
Power struggles multiplied by 100, school suspensions, trouble with the law, etc. I had absolutely no idea what to do. I was a really good kid and teenager – remember, I told you he took after his dad. I prayed, I fought, I researched, I tried every combination of parenting known to man, and still he was determined to lead what I considered to be a path to destruction. They say that everyone has to make their own mistakes and find their own way, but I was not prepared for the heart wrenching hurt it would cause me to watch it. No one told me that the little baby that I sang lullabies to every night would break my heart one day. No one told me that I would be totally unprepared for the decisions that I would have to make, and that some of those decisions would leave me second guessing myself for the rest of my life. No one told me that your heart could hold so much love and so much pain for the same child.
Oh, there have been good times since then. He has soared off on his eagle wings several times, and come back home several times over the years. As a mother that loves him dearly, I want nothing but the best for him. I want him to find his place in the world, to love and be loved. I know he’ll get there eventually, he just seems to be taking a few detours along the way. But, on this, his 23rd birthday, I have no idea where he is. I have no idea if or how he is celebrating his birthday. And for this mama bear, that is a bit hard to stomach. But for all the trials and tribulations, for all the heartaches, the long nights, the prayers and tears, being a mom is the most important job in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Because at the end of the day, you still have some of the most rewarding times and best memories a life can hold! I love you son!
“My Oldest Son”
My Oldest Son
From the first time you clutched my finger in your tiny hand,
I knew I was in love.
It was if you were squeezing my heart too.
I have never felt a love so pure and true.
And I would not give it up for anything in this world.
You are my love, My life, My first born child and I Love You!
Copyright ©2008 Suzanne Elizabeth Sweet