When my husband and I decided to start a family after three blissful years of marriage, we had no idea how bringing a child into the world would change our lives. What we didn’t realize, however, was how we would change the lives of some other very important people — our own parents.
I hate to brag, but since this is a Mother’s Day tribute, I’ll go ahead and do it. Growing up, I was a bit spoiled. No, I didn’t have every new toy on the market. No, I didn’t have couture baby clothes. What I did have goes far beyond the value of those petty things: I had a stay-at-home mom. A mom who held my hand when she took me to the park, and who read me all my favorite books. A mom who helped my older sister and me bake cookies – from scratch – when it was raining outside. A mom who always made our favorite meals on our birthdays (and continues to do so, I must admit).
Having a mom who was always there for me shaped who I would become as an adult. But oddly, for some time, it did not make me want to become a mother myself. In fact, it had the opposite effect: The idea of motherhood frightened me. For years, I deemed myself far too selfish to be mother material. I liked spending my workdays dedicated to my career as an editor and my weekends dedicated to the perfect tan. Life was good. Why complicate it?
When talk of babies started infiltrating my husband’s casual conversation, I began to sweat a little. Oh, I wasn’t worried about him. He was going to be a great dad. An amazing dad. The kind of dad who can’t wait to get off work to come home and play with his kids. The kind of dad that, well, I have. (See, I told you I’m spoiled.) No, I wasn’t worried about him being a fantastic father figure. I was worried about me. What kind of mother was I going to be? And the greater question, the question I buried deep down inside: How could I ever possibly compare to my very own mother — the original Supermom?
Despite my fears, a little one was soon on the way. Announcing this news to my mother is perhaps one of the fondest memories of my pregnancy. I remember it like it was yesterday: My husband and I had just left my doctor’s office with our baby’s very first photograph (a result of the ultrasound) in hand. I called my mom and tried to steady my voice. I tried to sound casual — “we just want to stop by to show you something” — but my words sounded broken and unnatural. I’m sure she knew something was up.
By the time we got to my parents’ front door, my husband and I could barely contain our excitement. After a few hellos and some stifled giggles (from me) in the foyer, my husband wordlessly presented the picture. My mother looked stunned. Immediately, tears filled her bright blue eyes as she dashed to find her glasses, seemingly afraid the picture might disappear if she took too long to return.
“What are we looking at?” she asked, though she knew.
“A picture of your grandchild.”
I can still hear the exact pitch of my father’s genuine chuckle.