It’s Mother’s Day eve, and I was given one of the greatest gifts tonight — the ability to catch up on 2 weeks of television shows! I caught up on all of my favorite shows, got in some blogging, and even did l-a-u-n-d-r-y! I know, not very sexy nor exciting to some, but to me, this was perfect :)
I got to thinking about mothers and motherhood, naturally, on this eve. I remember my first Mother’s Day. It was a beautiful spring day and we were living on Long Island. We had just bought our 10-month old daughter a wagon. I’m not sure where we went out for breakfast nor what we did all day, but I do remember holding her and thanking her for letting me celebrate this day. We have video of me and my daughter on that day. We have an even funnier video of us putting her into that new wagon and attaching our 140 lb dog to that wagon. We thought it would be a great ride for her (albeit a dangerous ride!), but turns out our dog, Gordon, had his own “motherly instinct” and just sat down at the foot of her wagon, refusing to run nor endanger her. Smart dog.
I celebrated another Mother’s day just 2 weeks after the birth of my second child. My favorite photo is of the me, Joli and baby Jada sitting on the couch. I was still exhausted from sleepless nights, yet we all managed to smile.
Next post-baby Mother’s day was with my son, Evan. He was born just a 6 weeks before Mother’s Day, and so I was slightly better adjusted. Mother’s day was spent hanging out at my own mom’s house, watching the kids play in the backyard and reflecting upon my own childhood days.
I’ve often been told that I do too many things. But, truth is, I’m a slacker compared to my own mother. While in medical school, she gave birth to my sister, Mary. Pregnant, late night rotations, intense studying. She managed. Shortly after finishing medical school, she had my sister, Grace. Then, as if that wasn’t enough she completed her specialization in radiology. In 1974, at the age of 28, she and my dad moved their small family all the way across the ocean to the United States. My mom, dad and two sisters didn’t have a support system here, but they knew there was a better life and better opportunities in the United States. As a natural planner, and as the Mom, she was the backbone of this new journey. My mom continued to practice radiology in the States and even managed to publish research. All the while, she helped her small children learn English, and existed in a new country, new culture, and new surroundings. Years later, in 1998, when I was living in NYC, I had taken my mom on the subway. She admitted that she hadn’t ridden the subway, or Train, in years. She told me about a time when she had my two sisters at a train station in Boston when a violent gang fight erupted right in front of them. My mom told me this story years before I would become a mother, and I remember laughing at the absurdity of it all. Now, as a mother, I can’t even imagine this experience. I’m horrified at the thought of my children being in danger.
Throughout my entire childhood, I remember my mom packing lunches for me and my 4 siblings every night. We would wake up to the smell of a warm breakfast and a line of brown bag lunches, each with our names on them, filled with our individual favorite sandwiches. She would then get ready for work, run all of the operations within my dad’s emerging office, somehow pick us all up from school and get us to our after school events (music lessons, sports, religious education classes, tutoring, etc), create space for homework, make sure we practiced our sports/music/etc, and got us all to bed. While we were asleep, my mom did the laundry and prepped everything for the next day. Now, as a mom, I can barely pour Lucky Charms into my children’s bowls, I’m late for work 4 out of 5 days a week, and I can’t imagine squeezing in time for after school activities. Dinner is microwaved. Baths happen 3 at a time. Books are read by my 6 year old to her siblings. And, I only have three kids….
In 2003, when I was in the hospital about to give birth to my first child, my mom and dad drove down (rather quickly!) from Boston to New York. I was just about to give my final few pushes when the nurse said to me, “I’m sorry to interrupt. There is a woman outside who insists on getting in here and she is getting unruly. I think she’s your mother.” Exhausted, I said, “You might as well let her in to say hello to me. She ain’t giving up!” I lifted my head, peering over my knees, enough to see my mom just inside of the doorway. “We’re here, Liza! We’re here! We love you!” I knew my mom wanted to see me one last time, the last time when I would be her baby. She wanted to see me before I became a mother; before I held my own infant. I thought it was absurd when it was happening. Now, I know I would do exactly the same.
I promised my daughter, when she was sick, that I would do anything for her. I promised that, if I could, I would take her pain away.
I know that going through this surgery will take some of the pain away for her, for my kids, for my family, and for me. We won’t be a family recovering from breast cancer; we will be a family who has reduced the chance of breast cancer. I’ve seen the pain of cancer — from my daughter, my sister, my mother-in-law. My aunts. My cousins. My family friends.
Now that we are getting closer to surgery, my daughter has been asking a lot of questions. She’s very concerned about the pain I’ll be in as a result of removing my breasts. She was there when my sister removed her breasts. She was there when my other sister removed her breasts. She doesn’t want me to be in pain, she doesn’t want it to hurt.
I tell her that I’m having this surgery — removing my breasts– so that we don’t have to be in pain. I’m doing this because I love her, her sister, her brother and her dad. I’m doing this because I love me. Myself. My future.
I’m doing this because I am a mother.
Peace, love, and happy mother’s day to all,