Mother’s Day – Post Mortem

Published in the Huffington Post

Another Mother’s Day is in the books. It is my 44th. For thirty-one years, the day was dedicated to honoring my mother.

In my 32nd year, we welcomed Sally, our first child. Whoa did Mother’s Day change! It became so much more special and relevant because I finally knew what it meant to be a mother. With that first sleepless night and diaper change, appreciation for my mother went through the roof.

In my 34th year, it changed again. Simon was born. Ninety-six days later he died. He was a seemingly health three-month old. However, he had an unknown heart condition. After he died, I was diagnosed with the same condition.

Now, eleven years later, I still have a hard time articulating what his death did to my Mother’s Day. I don’t know how to approach it. I have two beautiful kids, and my mom lives fifteen minutes down the road. There is so much to celebrate and appreciate. But…

Most girls have thought about becoming a mother. From what I’ve read, the majority of women who experience it claim that it is the most challenging and rewarding part of life. It is a role for which we are completely unprepared. Somehow, we manage.

As I struggle to process my emotions for yet another Mother’s Day season, I want to share some quotes about motherhood. Some are profound. Others are endearing. You’ll recognize a few of the names. You know, the celebrities. It’s fun to see how famous people view motherhood.

However, pay closer attention to the quotes from the other women. These are women I got to know after Simon died through a group called Parent Heart Watch. Like me, they lost children to unknown heart conditions and founded organizations to spare other families from tragedy.

Like me, they struggle to make sense of this holiday, and well, a world where you can lose your child to a detectable and treatable heart condition.

Motherhood is tough. If you just want a wonderful little creature to love, you can get a puppy.
Barbara Walters

Motherhood has completely changed me. It’s just about like the most completely humbling experience that I’ve ever had. I think that it puts you in your place because it really forces you to address the issues that you claim to believe in and if you can’t stand up to those principles when you’re raising a child, forget it.
Diane Keaton

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.
Jessica Lange

I never imagined the range and depth of feelings that motherhood would introduce into my life. I’ve gone from one extreme of incredible pride, an abundance of love and immeasurable joy…to the unthinkable edge of despair and knock-the-wind-out-of-you total devastation after losing my precious 19 year old daughter without warning. At the best moments before my tragic loss, I remember having the feeling that my heart would burst with love and joy. And now, it’s as though my heart has been completely shattered and I’m not sure if the pieces can ever be reassembled.
Julie Walker, The Peyton Walker Foundation

Each of my children carry a piece of my heart but it broke into more pieces than it was made of, when my son died.
Darla Varrenti, Nick of Time Foundation

Being a mother: There is no greater gift, nor bigger heartache.
Jeremy Lopynski, Ryan Lopynski Big Heart Foundation

Motherhood is a life-long promise from you to your child. You promise to protect and nurture and care for your child, to help them grow to adulthood. Sadly, despite your very best efforts, tragedy can wipe that out in a moment, and you’re left shouldering the pain of a failed promise.
Mary Beth Schewitz, Max Schewitz Foundation

Motherhood is the greatest gift and I’m thankful God chose me. Motherhood has brought me unconditional love, hope, joy, sorrow, and laughter. Motherhood is pure beauty.
Laura Friend, Run for Sarah

I guess these sayings are really true. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone. To understand, walk in another (wo)man’s shoes.

Motherhood is something that we dream about and imagine. We know there will be laughter and celebrations. We know there will be tears and heartbreak, but we think it’ll be the “my boyfriend broke up with me” or the “I failed a test” kind.

I didn’t know how to change a diaper. I didn’t know all of the different kinds of formula available for reflux. I didn’t know how to install a car seat. I didn’t know how to bury a child. I’ve learned all of these things on the fly. I’ve faked it.

There is one thing I do know. Our children don’t come with a timeline or expiration date. Their roads and destinies are unknown. I was prepared to do whatever it took to get Simon to his destination. Instead, he gave his life for me, so that I could discover my heart condition and reach my destination, whatever that may be. I’m not sure that is how motherhood is supposed to work.

 

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