This guest post was a winning entry in our “For the Love of Mom” contest. It’s a wonderful portrayal of the raw reality of motherhood….and all things that comes along with that! Thank you, Susan, for sharing your story. Been there, done that!
Also, be sure to check out our giveaways happening ALL week! If you HAVE a mom, you can enter! Find all the details here.
Last month I had my third baby.
She’s precious as all children are, with lots of dark hair and deep blue eyes. The day after her birth we brought her home to meet her older brother and sister, protecting our newborn bundle from their excessively enthusiastic loving. Three days later I was still figuring out feedings, sleeping and recovering from childbirth when my three-year-old daughter puked in the early morning hours.
The foul smell emanating from her bed (and clothes and hair) could not be ignored no matter how tired and sore I felt. My husband, who I would normally call to the rescue, also felt nauseated and could do little more than lie on the couch in intestinal agony. The mere thought of the crying, cleaning, bathing, washing and sanitizing involved with a sick toddler that doesn’t believe in puke buckets was enough to overload my postpartum mind and overwhelm my recovering body. But what else could I do?
As a college freshman, on my own for the first time, I remember laying on my bed with the flu. The realization that I would have to clean out my own puke bucket and get my own chicken soup was shockingly upsetting. I had never before truly appreciated how much my mom did for me when I was sick. I took for granted that she would be there, she would take care of me and do all she could to help me be comfortable and happy.
And now it was my turn.
So I gave the newborn to dad, washed the three-year-old, her blankets, pillows and sheets and prayed that she wouldn’t throw up anymore. A few hours later I was cleaning puke off her carpet, scrubbing it out of her hair (again) and washing more blankets and pillows.
It was time to call for reinforcements.
My mother, who lives almost two hours away, drove in to take care us. Nevermind that she had been there just a few days before for my baby’s birth. Or that she had taken my older kids to her house while I was in the hospital. Nevermind that she was in her first semester back at college working to finish her bachelor’s degree after taking several decades off to raise her nine children. And I was asking her to miss her classes the next day. She came. And from the minute she walked in the door I knew we would be all right.
It was bedtime. My sick girl was sobbing in her bed because her favorite blanket was in the wash and she couldn’t sleep without it. My husband still lay in agony on the couch. The baby needed feeding, holding and changing and worst of all my stomach had begun roiling with the threat of illness. I sat sobbing on the couch, a reflection of the little girl just down the hall, when my mom came in, gave me a hug and put everything right. The blanket was dried, the children comforted and although I puked my guts out later that night I knew I’d be okay because my mom was there to help.
I will always need a mother.
Mothering is a skill that is not easily taught. Describing the perfect mother does little to prepare someone for the role. The patience, love and cool head in a crisis can’t be shown just in photos and stories. They must be experienced. All those times my mom fed, clothed, and cared for me in childhood were taken for granted at the time, but now I can see how her example soaked into my life. I hear myself saying things she would say. I react to a crisis in the same way she does – do what you can do, even if it’s just a small solution to the problem. I even find myself cooking the same way she does, substituting ingredients for what I currently have in my cupboard and rarely following a recipe exactly.
As I hold my new baby I can’t help but appreciate the woman who taught me to be a mother. I am so fortunate to have a mom like her.
I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.
Susan Strayer is the author of the blog MountainMomandTots.com. She lives near Sundance Resort in Utah with her husband and three young kids. Other than blogging and the outdoors her favorite activities include snowboarding, reading and eating good food.
This post was written exclusively for Tales of a Mountain Mama in response to the For the Love of Mom writing contest.
© 2015, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.