Twenty-four years ago today I became a new person...a mother. Becoming a mother revealed qualities within me that I never dreamed existed. "Self-centered" and "self-indulgent" were stripped away the moment I set eyes on the little life we named Tommy...the miracle combination of me and Tom that God created and presented back to us. From that moment on, I felt the weight of responsibility for someone other than myself. I think it even surprised Tom that motherhood would have such an effect on me.
It's kind of ironic, isn't it? From the moment your baby is born, you both start preparing for the day of separation. Of course, I guess birth is the first step on that journey.
I remember looking at Tommy...this tiny newborn...and just sobbing my eyes out, worrying about a day that he might go off to war. Soon asthma became a greater, more immediate source of fear...I spent many sleepless days and nights watching him struggle to breathe. Then he became a teenager, opening the door to all of the fears I could imagine...drugs, alcohol, car wrecks...
I learned to pray for his protection and my strength...I learned to hand my worries over to God...I learned to let go. And along the way, Tommy became an adult, separate and independent.
It amazes me when I see him now, so grown up. Not that I'm surprised - when he was a little boy, I caught glimpses of the man he would become. And now, I catch glimpses of the little boy still inside of him, and I'm grateful for that even when the little boy annoys me, but I'm mostly proud of him...so sensible, hard-working, responsible, compassionate, creative, funny...I could go on and on, because I'm still his mother.
We were all together this past weekend - the whole family including Kirby. I remember having this fleeting thought a few weeks ago..."we should celebrate Tommy's birthday while we're in San Antonio"...but then it disappeared, squeezed out by preparations for Thanksgiving, company and our nephew's wedding. I didn't even get a picture of all of us together!
When he turned one, we threw him a party with cake, ice cream, presents...the works. Today he turned 24 and I texted him... "Happy Birthday!"...then I called him to make sure he was celebrating somehow (yes, going out for sushi with some friends, and he got to see Kirby yesterday.) There was no gift to wrap - we just let him skip paying us for his phone this month so he could use the money for a cruise he's taking. I just dropped his card in the mail yesterday - it won't even reach him until tomorrow.
"I'm such a bad mother."
"No, you're not," and that warms my heart because I know he's not just telling me that to make me feel good. I can tell he knows that, even if I don't get a card in the mail to him on time every once in a while, I'm there for him in the things that matter. He knows that if he needs me, I'll drop what I'm doing to take care of whatever he needs. He knows that this separation thing only goes so far, and I'll never really be very far away.
24 years ago, I became a member of the Motherhood Club...Mama, Mam-ma, Tommy and me (four generations)
Going all out for a first birthday...cake and presents....
A dance is a celebration, isn't it? Except I think this was more for me than him...
To read my birthday tribute to Tommy from last year, click here