My son was born April 29th. Which meant that right after his birth I would be able to celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a parent. The newness was that I would be receiving a gift instead of buying it.
My family was never big on celebrations. Maybe we did not have enough confidence that we were able to have a good time just the four of us, so celebrations were very low key. Specially if we were celebrating my mom. Be it her birthday, Christmas, you name it, she would say she didn’t want anything and tell us not to worry about getting her anything. It was never clear to me if she was playing herself down in hope that we would try to lift her up or if she honesty didn’t care. Nevertheless my sister and I would always get her something. And she appreciated anything we would give her.
When it comes to me as parent, I can’t say I had it figured out by then. Or by now, for that matter. The thing is that it took me about 2 years to build a connection with my son. So much went on before, during and after his birth that instead of love all I could feel for a long time was pressure and guilt. I look back at a picture of us on that day and my stomach turns. I look like s***. I look ugly as hell. Bloated and unhappy. My smile showed how miserable I was but it was not the first time I had tried hard at faking it. It probably wasn’t postpartum depression. This feeling had been going on for quite a while and welcoming that bundle of joy to the world just made it more evident.
Since it was my first Mother’s Day and I had bared that child inside of me for 9 months following a natural birth I felt I had earned the right to spend it with my family instead of my husband’s one. My son is 7 now and I have not spent another holiday with my family ever since. All gatherings at his parents house were pretty joyful, I have to admit. They are lovely people who have the time of their lives when they are together. Unfortunately every time we went anywhere with other people rather than his family or friends he would sit at a corner quietly, interacted as little as possible and would not eat.
So on we went to my parent’s house to celebrate. Mauricio was in a bad mood – although we would most likely go to his parent’s afterwards – he did not like being away from them at such an important day.
We arrived at my family’s house at lunchtime. Upon arriving my sister approached me and, with tears in her eyes, told me she had gotten me something. It was a golden necklace with a heart pendant with two small feet engraved. I had never been gifted jewelry before. I went to the moon and back! Which made my husband go from a bad mood to a pitch-black-dark one. Looking back I realize he was jealous. (insert eye rolling emoji here)
Later that day when we arrived back home he explained that my gift was not ready yet and it would arrive any day. Out of jealousy or just to make himself look better, he made fun of how happy and giggly I was about my sister’s gift. He said I looked like I had never seen gold before.
I accepted that his gift was not delivered timely. I even told him he didn’t need to get me anything and he need not worry about me. Just having a baby in my life was happiness enough.
A couple of days later the gift arrived. He came home with a big box that had a huge dark green bow on top of it. I recognized the store it was from. My heart skipped a beat because it was from a jeweler. But why such a big box? Maybe it was a diamond ring and he had it wrapped that way to trick me! I was so excited. He did love me. That meant that he cared for me and for some reason beyond his reach he was not able to give it to me sooner. He definitely made his best effort to have it get there on time but had been just out of luck. Life is unfair like that sometimes. I started thanking him, hugging and kissing him before even opening it. I held my son in my arms and with one hand slowly started to undo the bow so I would not miss one second of that emotional moment in my life. He must have spent a fortune. I was finally getting the gift that I deserved. This would be a breakthrough moment, a before-and-after in our relationship. At this point I did not care that we were not officially married. His gesture of getting me something so special made me believe that we were meant to be together, for better or worse, till death do us part. I felt like inside that box was, in a way, his heart. He was finally going to give it to me. He was finally willing to open up to a life by my side. It would show me how committed he was to me. It meant he was ready to give himself to me, be vulnerable, honest, accepting, loyal and dedicated.
I walked my son through every step of the gift unveiling. I wanted him to participate in this special moment. I took the lid off the box. I unfolded the crisp white wrapping paper and I was finally able to see what was inside. And there it was.