It is because of my children that I am the mother I am. I gave birth to twins, Max and Zoey, at 26 weeks. My daughter passed away at 2 months of age (before she was even due to be born) and my son was in the NICU for 5.5 months, eventually coming home with a feeding tube, developmental delays and a diagnosis of cerebral palsy as a result of a severe brain hemmorhage. My younger daughter, Jozey, born full term, still required bedrest for most of her pregnancy. How I mother them is more a reflection of them, rather than an identity I can claim as my own.
When Zoey died, I realized how much I had missed because my parents did not acknowledge my own sister’s death when I was a toddler. (I only discovered I had an older sister who died after looking through family photos. I was about 8 at the time and mistakenly thought the baby photos were of me; but, my mother explained that, in fact, they were of my older sister.) I wanted to make sure Zoey’s life, as short as it was, would always be remembered, that we would always include her, even though she was no longer with us physically. That was the catalyst that started my own transformation.
Max’s challenges showed me my biases, my prejudices, my dependence on meeting other people’s expectations. I placed so much of my worth on what I did, what I accomplished (academics, in particular), and that was the standard by which I measured not only myself, but also others. Suddenly confronted with the reality that my son would be on a completely different path, I was forced to reexamine my beliefs. I am a better person for it.
My younger daughter, Jozey, has known from birth what she likes and dislikes. She has no fear of making her needs known and expecting, rightly so, to have those needs met. She has taught me to trust myself as a mother, and in my mothering.
I am so grateful to my children for helping me to grow, to face my own demons and become stronger….to be the mother I am.