“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”—Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
This weekend, I will be traveling, once again, to the Wheeling/Bethany, WV area. My husband, John, and I will be making this trip together in order to pack up our daughter, Madelyn’s, belongings for the summer. She will remain at Bethany College with the few items she needs for the next few days in order to study and take her final exams before returning home mid-week.
A few weeks prior, when Maddie came home for a rare and quick weekend visit, it occurred to her, as we discussed the plan, that we would be moving her possessions on Mother’s Day weekend.
“Sorry, Mom, that’s not much of a Mother’s Day present,” she said half-laughing, but I could see the remorse in her eyes.
“Sure, it is,” I replied. “I am spending time with you—Best. Present. Ever.”
Maddie, being Maddie, rolled her eyes at me, but I spoke the truth—at least for the most part. Did I look forward to lugging totes, boxes, and bags out of her dorm room, into John’s truck, and into the house once home? Well, that is not exactly the most exciting part, but I am glad to do it. In fact, I am happy to help move her belongings for many reasons.
First, and foremost, I am spending time with my daughter, the young woman who birthed me into motherhood. I still fondly recall those nine months of pregnancy. Okay, the morning sickness was not that fun, but everything else was filled with wonderment.
Pregnancy in the late 1990s meant no gender-reveal party, no 3-D ultrasound images, no social media blasts, and so forth. John and I did not even own a computer at that time. Instead, I went to the library often, and checked out multiple books on pregnancy, purchased the classic book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel (now in its fifth edition and considered to be one of the most influential books of the past 25 years), and eagerly called family to share to the news once we found out we were having a girl.
As my belly expanded, I would gently caress it, thinking about the new life growing inside of me. I talked, sang, and even read aloud to her. John would lean down in the evenings, put his hands on my stomach, and speak to her as well because, “She needed to know her Dad’s voice too!”
The first time I saw her foot pressing against my stretched mid-section, I cried—such a miracle of life growing inside me. It was a time in my life when I felt as if I was God’s assistant in creating and caring for life. Thus, why would I mind helping her move most of her things out of her dorm room nearly 19 years later?
Secondly, helping my daughter move out at the end of an academic year is an act of celebration. After all she successfully completed her first year of college as well as her first year of semi-adulthood. (I say “semi” in that, we hold her accountable for and respect her decisions, but she is not yet 100% financially independent.) That first year away from home in college is not an easy transition. Maddie, not only made it through, but also achieved a few significant milestones along the way for which John and I feel extremely proud.
Maddie always loved to draw pictures for me as well as leave me notes when she was small.
Thirdly, helping her move her out allows me to feel part of her life-away-from-home. While there, we will have the opportunity to connect with her friends, walk the paths she daily ambles, and perhaps gain a bit more insight into life at Bethany College. I don’t mean to imply I wish to hover; rather, it’s more about a genuine interest into the person Maddie is becoming, the person who made me, “Mom”.
In fact, she still leaves me notes.
Finally, while the trip will be a whirlwind of activity that will most likely create some fatigue, John and I will have some down time together. The trip to and from Bethany traverses some beautiful scenery that we both enjoy sharing. It will grant us an opportunity to talk without interruption. Plus, it will also give us the gift of shared quiet—something that is often undervalued in our society.
Maddie certainly “baptized” John and I into parenthood!
It’s funny, while writing this; a memory has repeatedly popped up in my mind’s eye. It is a fuzzy, movie-like image of driving to work towards the end of my pregnancy. May was in its full-glory as the morning sun glowed through my windshield. While waiting at a rather long red light, I began to rub my distended belly, as I was less than three weeks away from Maddie’s birth. Unexpected tears of joy began streaming down my face in that moment at the thought of soon meeting my daughter. Now, I get to feel that sensation again as John and I drive to see and embrace our child once more. Life is good, and I am blessed. What more could I ask for on Mother’s Day?