I was twenty-four and Michael and I had been married two years. Thoughts of having a child began to fill some of our evening discussions. Was it the right time, how long would it take, could we financially afford to start a family and most importantly would we be able to conceive? All unknowns and in some ways uncomfortable and nervous thoughts.
I received a phone call from my doctor while at work one afternoon in February, 1991 confirming that my pregnancy test had come back positive. OMG – I was nervous and excited and could not wait to share the news with Michael that evening.
My first doctor’s appointment was a week later. I will never forget my Physician’s words to me at that appointment. “This is an exciting time for you Denise, enjoy it and look after yourself. It is not a woman’s right to have a baby: it is a privilege.”
Those words stuck with me for 26 years, ones I’ve repeated many times to young women and girlfriends. Although there are many women in my life who I have shared motherhood with, there are also those who have had challenges and sorrows over conceiving; some eventually choosing adoption, and others coming to the conclusion (as difficult a decision it is) to just be a couple “family”. There are also those who have had the heart ache of losing a child. I have come to know that being a mom to our two children is not something to take for granted.
After nine months of “discovery” consisting of worshipping the porcelain statue each morning for the first three, followed by gaining close to forty pounds, feeling movement in my tummy, having swollen ankles and being unable to roll over in bed at months eight and nine, our first child Paige arrived (close to two weeks past due!) in the middle of September 1991. She put up a bit of a fuss causing close to 20 hours of labour, numerous rounds of Demerol and Michael feeding me lots of ice chips. Our family physician arrived just in time to catch her! Michael and I were twenty-five. Today, Paige is twenty-five. It was that day in September 1991 that I was introduced to motherhood: an absolute love you never knew you could feel for another human being.
There is no perfect book on how to be a mom, it’s trial and error. I have realized it will always be that. I have learnt it consists of happiness, proud moments, challenges, not-so-proud moments, and heartache. It also creates a new chapter of sisterhood with your girlfriends (who become life-long friends through raising children together). They are confidantes on a daily basis, as we navigate each transition and muddle our way through being moms.
Paige has grown into a beautiful young woman. She has taught me many things beyond the ability to see life through the eyes of a child, teenager, and young adult once again. It’s those moments we often realize we are parenting based on experiences and memories we had during similar times in our own lives. She and I share a very close mother-daughter relationship, however, one that has not come without times of tension and disagreement. I have learned “tough love” is one of the hardest. As our children get older, we can no longer “just fix things” or make “decisions” for them. It instead turns to coaching them through life’s lessons – watching them succeed and watching them fail. I am a student of motherhood everyday. I use to roll my eyes when my mother would say to me “Denise, you will know how it feels when you become a mom yourself.” Now, I know exactly what she meant and I respect all the feelings, love, and worry she has and continues to experience as a mom to my brother and I.
I’ve had moments of “working mom guilt” too. There were many things I missed when Paige and Joshua were young (I will introduce Joshua in a future post!), but I always had special make-up time when I could – ensuring I was present with their day as much as possible. For me though, being a working mom made me a better mom in many ways. Some days were and still are not stellar (…I would not be making mother of the year award), but there are far more wonderful moments and I would not trade it for the world. It is the best role I have been privileged to have in life.
Whether you are a mom or are influencing the life of a child through loved ones or your sisterhood, I send a cheer to all of you for a Happy Mother’s Day!
I dedicate this post to my Mom – I was her “first” Mom experience – Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! xo
Photos: Scotch & Coffee
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