One of the most vivid experiences that I have ever had was giving birth to my first child, who was born eight weeks early and weighed only five pounds.
He was so tiny and fragile looking that I cried when I first saw him. His skin was a pale yellow, so he stayed in the hospital under harsh lights for almost a week to treat the jaundice. After I took him home, he had a very healthy appetite and developed extra chins within a couple of months. I would sit on the couch, propping my feet up on the coffee table with my legs together, and carefully position his back against my thighs so that he was facing me while I fed him little spoonfuls of baby food from slightly warmed Gerber jars. He ate everything ravenously, turning his face bright red and shaking his little clenched fists at me like the Incredible Hulk if I didn’t get the spoon into his mouth fast enough.
The baby fat disappeared quickly as a toddler, as he was so active and loved to be outside. Watching him from the kitchen window when he was little, he looked directly at me with a sly smile while intentionally cramming flowers into his mouth. I called poison control in hysterics. I remember my son’s love and fascination for all living things– ponies, birds, fish, insects, snakes, and the rest of the creepy crawlies. I cooked smelly chicken livers for his pet iguana, Dragon, who took a bath in the upstairs tub without my permission and crawled up my drapes. I was summarily outvoted when I tried to veto his keeping pet snakes in the house.
Art has always been a very big part of her life. After we moved, I had to get down on my hands and knees to scrape off the crayon pictures that were all over the brand new carpet in her pink bedroom. She was all of four years old at the time and already composing colorful canvases. She has generously given me many of her magnificent paintings over the years.
With a fascination for reading even as a little girl, she would surreptitiously turn the light back on in her bedroom after I had kissed her goodnight and clomped down the stairs. I thought she was exhausted and sound asleep, but she was willful and had other plans.
I have made my share of parenting mistakes; however, my children know that my intentions are in the right place and that I love them unconditionally.
Yes, there were many unhappy and painful experiences. I choose now not to revisit those memories and to focus my attention instead on the great moments that I have had and will continue to create with my children.
What memories are most meaningful to you as a mother? What activities and rituals do you do with your children that give them joy? That give you joy?
Happy Mother’s Day.