This Mom I know …

There’s This Mom I know …

She leapt into Motherhood despite that she was just a newlywed, and they hadn’t planned to make the Next Big Move so soon.  She suffered through all the usual Mother-To-Be anxieties, doubts, and fears of the unknown.  Yet when her pregnancy took a difficult turn and she was confined to bed rest for weeks before The Big Day, she kept her jittery spouse calm and focused (for the most part).

When The Big Day came, Junior came out just fine, but This Mom I Know had few touchy days dealing with the aftereffects of preeclampsia (high blood pressure) caused by the toll carrying their new son took on her body.  The worst part of the Best Experience Ever was that she could only spend a limited amount of time with her new baby son – in the immediate days thereafter - as she recovered. 

This Mom I Know mastered New Mommyhood as well – if not better – than most mothers did, yet she doubted her abilities even as her new family beamed and glowed with their teeny, weeny addition.  Of course her secondary role was to make sure New Dad didn’t toss his cookies the first time he changed a diaper that could have made an EPA Superfund list or fumble the baby when Dad went into his patented Heisman Trophy Cradle Pose.

This Mom I Know made all the right moves, and she did so while holding down a challenging, emotion-laden job as a Neo-Natal Intensive Care nurse in a large, Center City hospital.  She worked nights and evenings so she could be home during the day and worked weekends only when absolutely necessary.

Her nursing background came in handy whenever The New Son had a fever or an ear infection or cried non-stop during a two-hour car ride to Long Island.  And when one day, while innocently helping Mom make dinner, he threw his first anaphylactic reaction, it was Mom’s nursing experience that kept her head cool, her decisions sound, and brought The First Son back home, safe from a life-threatening experience.

This Mom I Know went through two more son-births in her Mommy Career.  Neither one was free from worry or the potential for medical complications.  Yet both New Sons made it home, free from serious and lasting problems. 

This Mom I Know did a herculean job of juggling career, household and the ultimate welfare of her children.  She involved herself in schools, activities, and when it became necessary the medical and developmental issues many children face.  At times she acquired the services her children needed by sheer force of will and an unshakeable persistence. 

This Mom I know is facing the very near and real prospect of her grown children heading out into The World for which she worked so hard and deliberately to prepare them.  Like so many parents she wonders if she did them right; she doubts sometimes that she did the best job she could possibly have done; and she hopes they will find happiness wherever they may end up.  And yet …

This Mom I know has a very difficult time letting go of her boys.  She frets and worries over how far they may wonder, how happy they will be, and how successful they will become.  She frets and worries only because she has no idea how fantastic a job she has done raising her children.  She doesn’t see them as the world sees them now. To her they are still her little boys.

This Mom I know will shed more than a few tears this year and in years to follow, as the boys move on and build lives of their own; raise families of their own; and build futures with the Moms they will know.

I can only hope they are as lucky as I have been and as lucky as they are to have This Mom I Know!

(Pardon my tardiness for this Mothers Day post.  Like a lot of men, I do not spend enough time dwelling on the fantastic efforts of This Mom I Know.  But on Mothers Day when I saw how she gracefully handles the way her life is changing – even though it hurts and she doesn’t always like that it is happening - and how happy she was to enjoy the day being surrounded by those who could be there for her, it stirred me to share how much I admire her! 

Happy Day After Mothers Day, Carol!  I Love You!)   

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Roots

(I hereby pledge – despite this blog’s name – to keep the lawn references to an absolute minimum.  Having said that, I think “Roots” best describes a discussion of where one comes from … a sort of “from the ground up” perspective.  Apologies to Alex Haley!)

Product of lower-middle-to-middle class, blue-collar Irish-American parentage … More American than Irish in a time when most adults in my version of the ’60s and ’70s more readily identified themselves with their hyphenated semi-European ethnicity.  Fact is, they were probably the last generation that relied so heavily on hyphenated Americanism to describe who they were.  But back then in Philly, it was still easy to identify sections of the city as having been at one time predominantly German, Polish, Italian, etc.

Dad was a World War II vet and worked in a steel processing plant – not in one of those huge, imposing steel mills that dotted much of Pennsylvania, making steel from raw ores.  It was more a facility processing steel into finished industrial products (wire, sheet metal, washers, fasteners, etc.).  He worked very hard in a dirty, sweaty environment.  But despite working in a union shop, it often seemed he could barely keep our financial heads above water.  He was a strongly committed and active Roman Catholic, insisting on maintaining his tithe to The Church even when he had trouble making ends meet.  Dad had his faults, but being anything other than a good father wasn’t one of them. 

Mom was a mom, and solely a mom.  Nothing other than wife and homemaker was necessary in describing her.  She stayed at home.  She never held outside employment.  Didn’t have much of an outside life period.  Never even drove a car.  Relied on Dad for everything.  It was remarkable in a way you NEVER see today.  But in the end, it was extremely limiting to her sense of self outside the family.  I never really appreciated what she gave up until Dad passed away, and she was left with no way to do anything for herself.  But as a mom, she was always there.  We always had that presence in the house.  And I honestly can’t recall more than a day here or there when she wasn’t there for us.  It was a sacrifice that’s impossible for me to adequately put to words.

Both Mom and Dad came from HUGE families … the Irish-Catholic way!  It mattered not which side of the family was involved; extended family gatherings were incredibly loud and crowded affairs.  To a kid it was both intimidating and wondrous. Who were all these people?!?

Of course, my parents were also products of The Great Depression (These stories alone could shape a few posts here!) and World War II, which had to be extremely difficult circumstances for large families.  So I often wonder whether that was why – despite their standing as “good Irish-Catholics” - there was only me, my brother Patrick, and my sister Joanne.  But I sure do remember many references to “the rhythm method”!

There is so much more I could go into here … some other time perhaps.  But going only this far, serves my purposes for the moment.