Years ago when I first started my home daycare, I had the pleasure of meeting a vivacious mother of two. She was a SAHM with a daughter in elementary school and a two-year-old son with extremely high energy and demanding needs. She needed someone to help give her a break once every two weeks, so even though I was new to running a daycare and I only cared for a couple of children besides my own, I agreed to this semi-regular schedule.
Her son was the cutest and sweetest little boy, but was absolutely a handful. He was perpetually in motion, required constant supervision and never really sat down. He paced in his crib and didn’t nap. He was always happy, but needed to be engaged every moment or he would climb the walls. On the days he was in my care I sweated A LOT. I was always physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day.
On the hardest days, I would find myself wondering if this arrangement was really worth my time. But, each time she picked him up I could see the appreciation in her eyes. I could see how important the break was for her and for her daughter. They would pick him up together and give this little boy so much love. This mother was the most supportive and appreciative parent. She always went out of her way to thank me.
To me the thank you was not necessary. I was in awe of this mother who only ever asked for a couple of hours twice a month to recharge. Helping to care for her son was the least I could do to offer support for someone so genuinely kindhearted.
She had to carry the baby to term and then do the hardest thing any mother has to do with a child – say goodbye.
When she first told me, I was speechless. I did not have the words to comfort this beautiful mother who greeted her son with such tenderness. It did not seem fair to me that one person would face so much. The amazing thing was how she took the time to offer me reassurance. To tell me it was going to be okay. She was shocked, but was making peace with it each day.
As each week passed, we talked and she confided in me her fears. She was scared of giving birth and not knowing what would happen. She had the hardest time trying to make her daughter understand that they would not bring home another baby brother. She received questions about her pregnancy with grace and learned not to say too much to people she didn’t know – more for their feelings than hers.
I found out I was pregnant with my third child when she was in her third trimester. I was afraid to share my news with her because I felt a sense of guilt and a sense of injustice. I would lay awake thinking about her and her family, trying to place myself in her shoes. I could not imagine facing such obstacles and then having her strength and amazing ability to smile through the pain.
After the baby was born he lived for two hours. She and her husband held their son and loved him enough for an entire lifetime. Her other children got to meet their little brother and took priceless photos with this precious little baby.
When she came back after saying goodbye to her baby, I was nervous to face her. I still didn’t have the right words. Again, she put ME at ease. She was honest and open and such an amazing person. She told me that saying goodbye was the hardest thing she ever experienced and yet it was wonderful. Instead of being angry or sad or distraught over being handed such hardship, she was grateful for the gift of two hours. She felt blessed for her two other amazingly sweet and beautiful children.
Shortly after giving birth her family moved across the country, but not before she gave me all of her maternity clothes. She offered me such extraordinary kindness and support. She said she was grateful for me and the care I gave her son. But, I think I was the one that gained the most from our relationship.
We lost contact, but I will never forget her. She was and still remains the person I think about when I feel overwhelmed or frustrated with my own children. She is the person I think about when I start to complain about motherhood. She is my standard of what it means to parent unselfishly. She counted each and every one of her experiences, no matter how difficult, as a blessing.
This Mother’s Day I will take some time out to think of other mothers that are facing real hardships and challenges. This Mother’s Day I will squeeze each of my babies tight and count my blessings.
Join me on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page to share your blessings and dedicate Mother’s Day to someone who unselfishly embraces motherhood.