Deb lives in Los Angeles, California with her Baby Daddy, 21-month-old and dog! You can learn more about her journey through life and motherhood at her blog: About Deborah
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Let's get to know Deborah better:
GratitudeFavourite family outing:
Disneyland! I work a mile away, but that doesn't lessen its appeal one bitFavourite emotion:
Gratitude (Sensing a theme here?)Favourite song:
Brother Israel's "Over the Rainbow"Favourite famous person:
Joss Whedon, hands down. Buffy alone would've made me say this, but Buffy and Angel? And Firefly? Win!Favourite of my posts:
Mother, Child, Mother
by Deborah of The Monster in Your Closet
by Deborah of The Monster in Your Closet
I used to like kids even less than I liked shopping. I enjoyed neither, but the margin between the two was wide enough to cozily engulf about a million planets the size of Earth.
Some months ago, a girlfriend determined my wardrobe unsound and demanded I go on a shopping expedition with her.
I'm not sure why she did this. Sure, I'd had my son more than a year prior and most my clothes were baggy on me. Maybe, just maybe, they were not the most fashionable garments I'd ever worn in my life. But they fit! And they were, by and large, clean, given that my son wasn't spitting up on me every third second anymore. Did a toddler’s mom really need anything more from her clothing?
My girlfriend shot down my totally reasonable protest, so I set up a shopping appointment. I'm a professional, after all; if something's marked in my calendar, I can't very well miss it, can I? That's a very unprofessional thing to do absent mitigating circumstances.
Unfortunately, no mitigating circumstances presented themselves here. I was forced to go shopping.
I was just starting to get into the swing of things when my youngest sister, Mads, called. I didn't mean to be the girlfriend who goes shopping only to ignore her real-life buddy in favor of the phone, so I ignored the call.
Mads called again. I ignored her again. Perusing scarves in the checkout line, I told my girlfriend, "I have to pick it up if she calls back again. She never calls three times."
She called back. I answered the phone and grumbled a hello, only to have my sister launch into a long-winded story about going to the dollar store here and the grocery store here and--
"The point, Mads. Get to the point."
Impatience fled the building. After 10 minutes of two-way gushing, I had to end the call nevertheless—shopping, buddy, and all that.
Fast forward two months. My precious little monst--erm, toddler--was tearing the house apart while I booked a hotel room on my land line. My cell phone beeped, so I picked it up and checked the beep's source. It was an innocuous two-word message from my other sister, Rache. Those two words read, "You up?" I knew, instantaneously, that what they translated to was, "I'm pregnant."
I mean, really. Is the mother of a 20-month-old up at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning? Please!
For the next three weeks, I was forbidden to share the news. Rache wanted to make it through her first trimester before she made her announcement. Understandably, she didn't want anyone else stealing her thunder.
Over the course of those three weeks, I had a lot of time to think about children. Generations. The circle of life. I remembered finding a "+" where I'd expected to see a "-" in January 2009. I remembered thinking life was over, and feeling distraught by an erroneous belief that my plans of pursuing a career change to medicine had been obliterated just as completely as they'd been built.
I recalled talking with Rache in July 2009. She told me our mom's doctor suspected Mom had cancer. I will never forget the way I felt I was suffocating when Rache told me the diagnosis had been confirmed, or how the world stilled in February 2010 when Rache wrote that our mom was really, truly dying. Now.
Sixteen months later, the grief of reliving these moments is overwhelming. And yet, there's one emotion that's stronger still.
After receiving my sister's message about my mom dying, I flew up north with my then five-month-old son. I stood at my mom's doorway and wondered if she would recognize her grandson. Would she have the energy to hold him? To smile at him? I was frozen with fear for what seemed like an eternity, but I opened the door nevertheless.
What greeted me was a kind of love that's greater than pain. It's larger and more enduring than cancer, which only lasts as long as one's physical body. Love, by contrast, persists in the hearts and minds of those who have shared our lives with us. In the moments after I opened my mom's bedroom door, it took this form:
My mom passed away three weeks after I took this photo. Cancer stole her body, but it couldn't touch the love that remained after her breath departed. Nor could it touch the gratitude in my heart that "when people plan, G-d laughs."
I didn't mean to be a mother, but it's being a mother that's brought me closest to my mom since she passed away. As I wrote in this entry:
As my son’s cries gradually tapered and his body melted against my chest, I was stunned by the revelation my mom’s life wasn’t all tragedy. It wasn’t the sum of its highlights. [ . . . ]
There were karate chickens and thunder thighs. There were oddball thrift store and garage sale finds she delighted in passing along to her children. And there were, I saw finally, moments of peace amidst the chaos. Many years ago, she held me, nursed me and rocked me to sleep, knowing the incomparable joy of being everything to me. Later, she did the same for my sisters. My brother. Much of her life might have been spent scrambling to fulfill obligations she never seemed to get on top of, but that didn’t negate those precious moments where she was able, simply and sweetly, to be all she wanted to be: Mom.
It took being a mom myself to see the beauty of these simple moments and to understand ignoring them would be working further disservice to her.
As I rocked my son to sleep that evening, I felt my mother in me. I felt how I am a continuation of her, and how my son will be a continuation of both of us.
After I laid my son down, I sat at the head of his crib and watched him sleep. I sat there till it was too dark to see him, then rose with a smile.
If I’d never meant to be a mother, I could not have been gladder that G-d meant otherwise. But for failure of my plans–not to mention contraception!–there is so much I would have missed.
Someday soon, I won’t need to explain this feeling to my sisters, because they will know. They will hold their precious babies in their arms and understand the incomparable joy of being everything, in these moments, to them. My sisters will feel rocked and embraced even as they themselves rock and embrace.
And me? You can bet I'll dismay at shopping just as much as I always have, but my dismay has departed where children are concerned. I know now something that I didn't before. Kids may bring a lot of poop--literal and otherwise--but they also bring hope, and the joy of knowing that all the powerful, unbreaking love we've shared will continue to shine long after our bodies perish.
Try buying that at the mall!