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Mom, Mommy & Mooooother

When the line between mom and child blurs...

Through my childhood, marriage, four pregnancies and births, my mother encouraged me and believed in me - even when I didn't believe in myself. She's been my guiding light, my touchstone, and my source of strength. But, I never saw past her role as my mother until she fell ill, really ill, for the first time in her life.

It's the moment no child wants to consider and every parent dreads.

Mom & MeMom & MeStruggling with my mother through her illness has made me realize that mothering is ever-changing. Motherhood, for me, started the moment I saw dark red curls gleaming against my son's pumpkin round face. All the sappy greeting cards and heartrending tales couldn't have prepared me for the fierce, mother-lion love I felt.

It was a breath snatching, heart attack moment the silver screen loves to overdo. "Hello my darling, I'll stand in front of a train for you," I thought. No preamble, no build-up. It was just there, and I was stronger, more sure of my role in life because of it, because of him.

The word "Mommy" wailed, whispered and giggled signaled a change in my role. A new walking, talking little person ready to explore the world took the place of one who needed midnight feedings. I learned to balance being a best friend, cohort and disciplinarian as we entered toddlerhood.

Now I live in the "MOOOOther" stage - the one I held myGrace & MeGrace & Me mother hostage with during my teenage years. The "O" is drawn out and capitalized, even in speech, to emphasize the fact that I, who was once capable of miraculous things like baking cookies or coloring the sun yellow, cannot understand the rudimentary rules of life.

I'm beginning to understand and feel comfortable in my changing roles as mom, mommy and mother. I've loved being the one looked up to, the one who knew everything. It felt good to be someone's hero. But I'm learning to enjoy being corrected, taught and yes, on occasion, mothered by my growing children. After a long day of school and work I'm the one being coddled.

All those sleepless nights and ruined suppers I put my mother through taught me that unconditional love goes both ways.

My mother forgave me my youth and I forgave her for not being perfect.

She's still teaching me about dignity, grace and determination. It's like the Ying and Yang of motherhood - perfect because of all the time and love invested into it.

Simon & MeSimon & MeMy children and I are teaching each other new ways to express and share our love as well. Cooking family meals together places importance on us-time instead of a spotless kitchen. Listening with my full attention instead of just one ear lets them know they are my first priority each and every day. Making time for each other keeps us connected, part of a larger whole that feeds and nourishes us.

My children still need me - their mOOOOOther, their mom and sometimes their mommy. I hope they'll always need me the way I still need mine.

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Originally published 2004, ePregnancy

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