Monday, May 4, 2009

My First Heroine: My Mother

Rather than talk about how we celebrate Mother's Day at my house, I'd like to, instead, share a little about my mother.

As a child, like most little girls, I imagine, I thought my mother was the most beautiful, funny, smart, creative, and impressive woman alive. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. By the time I'd reached my teenage years, a lot of these thoughts had...well, changed. I still loved my mother, but the love was hidden beneath a vat of teenage angst. We didn't get along very well most of the time, we fought often, and I swore that I would *never* be like her.

Then, a funny thing happened: I had my first child. Suddenly, my mother was the real life encyclopedia I turned to with every question I had about my infant daughter. We didn't live near each other then, but oh, did I rack up the telephone bills. In fact, she was really the only person I trusted with any questions I had regarding the role of being a mom.

I had less questions with my second child, but the connection that was formed with my mother didn't wane. Still, I can't say I considered her a friend, because I didn't. She was Mom, and I loved and trusted her, but she still seemed to be in a different world than I. She was there, always, if I needed her.

And then one day, she hesitantly told me over the phone that she had breast cancer. I remember the stark fear that hit me, but disbelief crawled in next. My mom couldn't be sick. But she was, and the fear came back, only I was mostly able to keep it bay. My mother had always been strong, and I'd always seen her as fearless. She'd win the battle of cancer. I was sure of it.

But slowly, she shared more information with me. How the form of cancer she had didn't give her the greatest odds for survival, how she was going to try what was then a new treatment, and how she'd be in a hospital far from her home for a very long time...and I heard her fear in her voice. Something I'm not sure I'd ever heard before.

I think that scared me more than anything else.

I lived in North Carolina at the time, and had two young children. I remember standing in the shower and becoming hysterical with grief. Not just that I might lose my mother, but that my children might never really have the chance to get to know her.

It was a horrifying reality. Not one any of us wants to think about, let alone have to confront. For months, I lived in this weird fugue state, doing what needed to be done, but wishing I could physically be with my mother while she fought for her life. And fight she did. As hard as it was, and she told me it was the hardest thing she'd ever done, she beat the odds and survived, and today is completely, and thankfully, cancer-free.

Years passed, and evenutally, I found my way home again to Ohio. My mother is often the first person to know many of the details of my life: both good and bad. I turn to her for advice, for support, for understanding, for everything a child should be able to look toward their mother for. She's always there with her strength, her wisdom, her experience, and her love. And, after so many years, I consider my mother one of my closest friends.

And guess what? I so want to be just like her.

So, for my mother on Mother's Day, I'd like to thank her for so many things, from the little to the big. Like that time she spent hours and hours baking and then decorating a Holly Hobby cake for my birthday, even if she did threaten to freeze it and bring it out each year to look at. For protecting me from the harsh realities of the world when she still could, for helping me deal with them when protection was no longer an option, for supporting me, for sharing her strength, and for teaching me what being a mother and a friend is really all about.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!

To all the other moms out there, I hope you have an amazing Mother's Day!

And now, for a little fun, head on over to Dorchester Editor Leah Hultenschmidt's blog this week. She's holding a Mother's Day contest with some awesome books as the Grand Prize (A Taste of Magic is one of them!).


Jillian Cantor said...

Tracy, what a lovely post! And I can totally relate to how having children makes you see your mom in a whole new light.

Maureen Lipinski said...

Beautiful post, Tracy! I, too, always turn to my mom first for advice now that I'm a parent.