Today marks my 40th anniversary as a mom. My firstborn child is celebrating her 40th birthday today, but that is her story, and an entirely different issue.
I was told that I would not be able to conceive a child; I had just barely started down a path of interventions and injections, turning the entire process into a cold, clinical affair, when I found out that i was pregnant. I am eternally grateful to HaShem who proved to all Who is the True Doctor.
I gave birth to a child, loved her, raised her, played with her, delighted in her, educated her, tickled her and gave her siblings. She gave me, among the millions of gifts that she bestowed upon me, the title of “Ema.”
40 years. An amazing amount of time. Motherhood is a job that on the one hand grants you a great measure of job security but on the other, gives very little in terms of constructive criticism and positive feedback. You never quite know if you are doing a good job or not.
I was blessed with a great example; I tried to parent my children as my mom raised me. I tried to love them unconditionally, raise them to be responsible and productive adults, and I tried to give them the same tangible gifts that she had given to me, a way of paying it forward. I never knew if I met her standards or if my kids loved me as much as I loved my mom, or as much as I loved them. My mom set the bar high.
I loved being a mom; I enjoyed (almost) every second of it. I loved smelling her sweet sweet baby scent, I loved bathing her and dressing her. I received each and every new word of her amazing vocabulary as a precious gift. I watched her grow and was thankful for the miracles that each day brought. I never lost that feeling of awe, watching this tiny (2 kilo at birth) human being grow and learn and explore and become an entity of her own.
I was always very conscious of the fleeting nature of time; I knew that each second that passed would never return. She would never again be just an hour old, just a week old or just a year old.
I wished I could freeze time for just a second; just to have one second to hold everything and everyone dear to me without the possibility of things moving, changing. I knew that this was not a reality.
Our family grew, we developed our own traditions and own habits; we learned the rhythm and flow of family life; the ever-changing nature of time. And just as we felt like we had reached the peak of the mountain; that all the challenging years of sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and scraped knees, hurt feelings and disappointments and anger so deep that it defied words, just when we felt like we had “achieved” something and could rest in the sweet grass and sunshine on the top of the peak; life changed again.
Life IS change, and thank G-d the vast, vast majority of our changes have been good, but once again I was gripped by the need to take a photograph, to capture that one minute of time when all five of my kids were grown (almost) and we could begin the to friend. Transition in our relationship, from parent to friend. Before I could focus my lens on that pastural family photo, my son, at the age of 18, announced his engagement. And it was good, and we were happy and I love my daughter in law very, very much but I so wanted to hold onto my nuclear family for just one more moment. I wasn’t quite ready for him to leave his mother and father and “cling” to someone else. But being a mother is an ever-changing role, and now, suddenly, I was a mother-in-law.
A year later, we not only added another wonderful daughter in law to the family but I received a new degree, that of Savta/Grandma! This was the greatest gift; minimal responsibilities with maximum fun! That fun, and joy, and pride and excitement has increased tenfold with the birth of each new grandchild. God willing I will be privileged to cuddle many many more!
I guess the measure of success in my role as mother is measured by the love my children pass forward to their spouses, and their children. Thank God they have been blessed with happy, well-balanced children, who are multitalented, with wide and varied interests. The cousins all get along very well and enjoy spending time together. I tear up every time I look at the family photo from our latest wedding. Almost all of the family are there, missing, besides our beloved parents who surely watched on from above, were my nephew in the States, and my youngest grandson who was born a week later. We came to this country on our own, a young couple full of dreams. Now our dreams have become a reality and there were 28 smiling faces in that latest photo!
I have truly been blessed, for the past 40 years. Please God, let me continue to change and flow and develop and grow, until 120.