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Mama and me

Mama and Jonah at one week old. By the way, mama took the picture of Jonah and me in my profile.

It's a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in rainy Portland. Jonah and I have been out and about enjoying the sun. As I always do, I called my mom on my walk. I love technology. Between cell phones, email, skype (video chats rule!) and social networking sites, I feel closer to her than when I lived under her roof.

I just read Judi P's post, "My mother, myself," for like the 5th time. ( Her words resonate... was there anything I didn't blame my mother for growing up? She and I are so alike.

Oh, how lovingly our relationship has blossomed, made all the more richer now that I am a mother.

I remember being pregnant with Jonah and casually mentioning that she and my dad could witness his birth if they wanted. (fun fact: we were calling him Giovanni at the time) Her voice contained such surprise when she asked, "Really? I didn't think you would want me there."

After years of lovingly pulling her toward me, angrily pushing her away, who could blame her surprise or confusion? My unspoken truth was that it meant more for me to have them there - for deep, hurt-filled reasons that I won't go into here - than I'll ever be able to express. My parents have taught me unconditional love in the eye of the storm. What a priceless gift.

The morning I went into labor, I called my parents in Kansas City. I told them that my contractions had started, but I had no idea if I would go into labor. It was up to them to decide whether they wanted to fly out that day. The risk being, of course, if I didn't go into labor we would be sitting around twiddling our thumbs until I did go into labor.

According to witnesses, this put my mom into a tailspin that could only be remedied by her other two daughters promptly meeting her and my dad for lunch so they could discuss what to do. She was worried about imposing, I'm sure. After a lot of back and forth, we decided that they would fly out that evening.

My water broke at 8pm. My parents left Kansas City around 6pm (4pm my time) and arrived at the hospital around 11:30pm. What will always stand out in my mind about Jonah's birth (after my husband supporting me the entire time) is that my mom said she didn't want to witness the birth - quote: "I hope Jennifer and the baby are cleaned up and sleeping sweetly when we arrive." - but was front and center the whole time. As I like to joke, my mom has seen ALL my bits and pieces. I knew Jonah was born by the startled and awesome look on her face when he popped out.

I think the mother daughter relationship is always tempestuous. Our mothers are our biggest allies and our worst critics. But there is nothing that can replace the need for my mommy. Who else would have overnighted chocolate chip cookies when I crashed my bike and cracked my skull while living in Chicago? Who else would paid almost $100 to send me Topsy's popcorn for Christmas in Mongolia? I hope heaven accepts collect calls when she's gone from this world, 'cuz I'm a calling!

These days, mom is mama, and I am mom. (well, not quite. Jonah is only 4 1/2 months. who knows what he'll call me) If there is one thing I would like to tell mama on mother's day it is quite simply this:

I love you. Thank you for being you. Happy Mother's Day.


Judi P's picture


I am glad that my experience triggered this group conversation. And that it is a place to explore the complexities of the relationship(s) we have with our female parent(s). I have to admit that my mother is still the most annoyingly encouraging person in my life. Only now its her spirit nudging at my elbow to make me write stuff. No escape, because of course she is me and I am she.

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