Motherhood has shaped me in such a way that I divide my life into two halves: before my sons Zack and Simon were born and after they were was born. In the twelve short years that I have lived in the second half, I have learned the true meaning of the words: love, sacrifice, and success.
Before I gave birth to my sons, I lived and died by my whims alone. My children have given me the truest barometer for what is and isn’t important and let me in on the secret of life–perspective.
As a child, love was a one-way street for the sole purpose of my self-esteem and happiness. Entering the teenage years and my early adult life, love became about romance and relationships, those dizzying roller coaster rides full of extreme highs and terrible lows.
The word love meant chance and pain. Sometime after the pregnancy test and morning sickness, after the initial shock of the tiny miracle growing inside me wore off, but before he was placed into my anxious hands in the delivery room, I experienced love in all its power and glory. I gave my sons love unconditionally and fiercely, like a mother tigress. I honestly believe I would devour anything that harmed them.
In motherhood, I have learned real love means giving because of wanting to, without expecting something in return. Although I never expected it, loving Zack and Simon in this purest form has boosted my love for all things, including life and myself. Never have I felt more loved than when as a toddler, one held my hand or planted a wet kiss on my face. I have never been happier to be alive than my sons call me “Mama” or “Mommy.”
When I was pregnant with my first son, I read an old Aborigine Mother’s Prayer that said, “Before you were conceived, I wanted you; before you were born, I loved you; before you were here an hour, I would have died for you.” As beautiful as it seemed reading it with my unborn baby thumping around inside my belly, I could not truly fathom the deep ocean of the word “sacrifice.” My son Zachary’s second Christmas, my whole family had the flu.
While my husband laid on the couch, covered in blankets and blowing his nose, I danced and soothed my very sick toddler. Although I had the flu myself, I held my son until my arms and back ached and never once considered putting him down. I was willing do whatever it took to make him feel comfortable, and the Good Lord supplied me with that endless reserve of strength He gives mothers.
Before my sons’ births, I measured my success by what grades I made in school, what important responsibilities I undertook at work, what kind of car I drove, what labels were on my clothes, what others thought of me, what kind of man I had-my whole outer appearance and personae.
Oddly, I was never happy, never once satisfied or secure. Always a tiny voice inside me begged for more. Now the tiny voices I hear are my sons beautiful ones. If, at bedtime, Zack and Simon are healthy, happy, fed and content, I am a success.
I feel confident in my intrinsic worth in something far more important and greater than myself. A distant, longing call has been answered in my soul, and immeasurable success has found me in a way that I could not have imagined.
Before starting this journey, I had never experienced the power of giving unconditional love, all of oneself to another. I had never felt the intense fire of pride and awe that fills me when I consider my sons.
My heart had not been twisted like a wet rag by a slobbery baby kiss or a soft “I love you, Mommy.” Motherhood has made me stronger, better, more focused. Thank God, I reprioritized my life for a 7½-pound bundle on March 28, 1997, and again for a 7-lb., 9-oz. bundle on May 27, 2003, and those changes have made all the difference.
In giving all I had to Zack and Simon, I found a life richer than my most hopeful dreams and a happiness higher than I ever knew existed. To quote a movie line, my sons are my “true North.” My only wish is that I can return to them some of the blessings they have rained down upon me.