You never stop being a mom. No matter how old your kids get, or where your kids’ adventures take them, they are always your babies. You hope that you have given them the tools that they need to live their adult lives in the best way possible. And yet, somehow you have a difficult time seeing them as something more than that crazy teenager that they were all those years ago. You’re separated from them enough that you lack the perspective to see the amazing adults that they’ve come to be. You get their lives in pieces – the pieces that they choose to share with you. This holds especially true for the kids that were the most trying. The ones that have caused the most concern and emotional strife during their short lives. Some of your kids reach out to you all the time. Some of your kids keep to themselves and their new little families. Some of the kids are in between the two extremes.
It has never been a secret that my Melissa was one of my trying children. She kept me on my toes as a teenager. She caused me great anxiety as she flew the coop and made not-so-wise choices as a young adult. She is one that I have had a difficult time viewing as a responsible adult. She’s a mother now with her own children, and yet somehow she’s always been this irresponsible teenager in my mind’s eye. She’s the one that I’ve given an unfair shake to in not moving beyond her stubborn teenage ways. She’s the one that has deserved better from me.
She married a marine, and as such, she has done a LOT of solo parenting as her husband has gone and done wherever and whatever the Corps has required of him. She has called me in tears some days because things are so stressful, and has been met with a lack of sympathy. She chose this life, after all, right? Karma, maybe, for all the grief she put me through? For whatever reason, I have been less sympathetic to her issues than I have with some of my other kids. She’s my one who tends to over-react to every little situation.
She and her husband had planned on having two kids. When she called me to tell me about the “oopsie” third child on the way I was less than enthusiastic. I felt like she struggled with the two that she already had. I offered her a half-hearted congratulations and have worried since the news of the newest grandbaby was given. I worry about her. I worry about the kids. I worry about the husband. I just worry about this teenage daughter who isn’t a teenage daughter anymore. You know, that thing I mentioned earlier where I’ve been far enough separated from her to see her grow into an adult.
Baby number 3 is due at the end of July/beginning of August time frame. Husband is gone with the Corps until July 16th. Her water broke yesterday morning. She texted me when it broke, and said she would call me later on. No “calling, calling, calling” until I finally picked up the phone. Just a quick message to let me know that grandbaby #8 would be getting there a month earlier than planned on. No complaints about her husband being out of state. No freaking out about what she was going to possibly do. Just “my water broke, I’ll call ya later.”
Her good friend downstairs loaded up the two older kids, took Melissa to the hospital, and left her there so she could take the older kids home. I tried calling Melissa, but there was no answer, so I sent a text and told her that when she got settled in to give me a call.
Then I paced for more than an hour while I waited to hear from her. When she called she was perky and happy and “I’m so excited I get to meet Aiden today!” It was….unexpected. This teenager-turned-adult-woman was facing going through labor and delivery 100% on her own and she was…cheerful. I didn’t know quite how to react. I was expecting tears and the sob story about the blanketyblankmarineskeepingherblanketyblankhusbandfrombeingthereforhisblanketyblankchildsbirth. The chipper voice and cheerful attitude caught me off guard. She was laughing and joking with the nurses as they fussed around her while she talked to me. I asked if her husband was going to be able to make it and she just matter-of-factly said nope. He’s shooting. No angst. No tears. No concerns. I barely knew how to process it all. “Well, Mom, they’re going to check me. I’ll keep you posted. Love you.” And she was gone.
And then my tears came. Uncontrollably. I thought back to my own deliveries. My then-husband was there in the room. Reading a book. Trying to avoid the clinical nature of the birthing process. But there should I need anything. Memories from so many years ago coming to the forefront of my mind so quickly. How would I have ever gone through the process of having a baby without some sort of support system with me? Someone to hold my hand while I pushed? Someone to listen to me whine when I was beyond uncomfortable? There was nothing in those recollections that made me think it was even possible to do that without anyone there. Especially for my over-reactive child. And yet, my teenager-turned-adult-woman was facing just that. It was all I could do to not jump in my car and start driving across the country to be there. I knew that I would not make it and no matter what I did, she would still be doing this birthing thing alone. I just let the tears fall because there was no point in trying to stop them.
After a couple of hours I got another call from her. They were sending her husband home!! He was eight hours away, and it was possible that he wouldn’t be there in time, but he was on his way. This gave me a sense of relief just knowing that he was on his way, and at the very least, would be able to be with the kids.
I got a text later on in the evening that he had arrived. He was going home to put the kids to bed and would then go to the hospital to be with Melissa (who, at that point, had not had the baby). The tears began to fall again. But this time, not from stress, but from relief that she would not be alone during such a physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging time. She would have someone to hold her hand. To comfort her. To listen to her whine when things got too rough. To shake his head as she told her silly stories and jokes and say, “That’s mah wife!” She would not be alone.
This strong, brave, independent woman that I raised can do more than I would have thought possible. She has dealt with more hardship than I ever in a million years have had to deal with. She has gone through it with a zany sense of humor, an infectious laugh, and the language of a Marine. She makes me laugh. She makes me cry. She makes me shake my head and say, “That’s my Melissa.”
From this teenager who caused me no end of grief has emerged this beautiful butterfly of a woman who is strong in ways that amaze me and make me proud to be her momma.