From Mama to Mom

From Mama to Mom

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

From Mama to Mom

Grandmother—a wonderful mother with lots of practice.
~Author Unknown

On more than one occasion, my mother shared with me the story of how she was the first to know when she was pregnant. At the age of forty-four, my mother sat nervously in the doctor’s office awaiting her results. As she waited, she wondered what on Earth she would do with a baby at this time in her life. Her oldest two children were almost twenty-three and twenty, and her youngest child was a junior in high school.

She knew right away she was pregnant with me even though the doctor didn’t think that could be the case. He very gently explained to my mother that she had reached that magical age where things begin to change for a woman. The doctor was a renowned physician in this small community in Texas. His medical knowledge and experience were highly respected. He was confident of his diagnosis.

Mama, on the other hand, was a non-assuming, non-assertive woman, but, on this day, she openly disagreed with the good doctor. Although it had been quite some time, she knew how she felt when she was expecting a baby.

After what seemed to be an endless wait, the doctor came into the office with an apology for doubting my mother’s wisdom and then gave her a congratulatory hug. He informed her that she was about three months pregnant.

My mama was the most nurturing person I have ever known. She was always kind and gentle but, when needed, she could draw a strong and bold line that I knew darn well I had better not cross.

As a young kid, I realized my parents were much older than my friends’ parents. It wasn’t too hard to figure out. None of my friends’ parents had His and Her denture cups in the bathroom or arthritis creams lining their shelves.

Not to mention, when someone was introduced to Mama, the first thing they would ask her was if she was my grandmother. She would always blush and answer them with, “No, she is my daughter, my very own little blessing from God.”

When I got old enough to understand the ways of nature, I had the awful realization that my parents might die before I was grown. That thought scared me senseless. I finally decided to ask my mama what would happen to me if something happened to her. She did not hesitate and answered with an emphatic, “Never worry about that. God will always take care of you. Long after I am gone, God will still take care of you.”

At the time, I felt my mother might have been giving my question the slip. Like the doctor who delivered me, I did not realize how wise my mother was.

I lost my mama too soon. A massive heart attack stole her away less than three months after my husband and I were married. I was only twenty and I was not ready to let her go.

I thought it was poor timing on God’s part. I had just gotten married when he took her. What should have been one of the happiest years in my life had become the saddest.

My new mother-in-law, whom I call Mom, checked in on me regularly. She called and came by to see how I was doing.

People often complain about their mothers-in-law. I hear about how bossy, nosy, and interfering they can be. Mom is not like that and I have never complained about her, not once.

I remember a time when we were at a community function. As I sat at the table with Mom, an elderly man walked up and said, “jak sa mas” which means, “How are you?” in Polish. These words happen to be the only words in Polish that I understand. Mom replied quickly with, “Please speak English. My daughter-in-law does not understand Polish.” I will always cherish my mother-in-law’s response. It demonstrated such respect for me.

Then there were the births of our three sons. Each time Mom came to stay a few days to help me. I always appreciated her being there.

I was especially appreciative of her when my first son, Grayson, was born. Mom came in carrying not only her suitcase but also invaluable experience in caring for a baby. Being the eldest of six siblings and having ten children of her own definitely prepared Mom for mothering.

I, on the other hand, did not have that kind of experience, so when I brought home my newborn baby boy, I felt incompetent. In fact, I was scared to death.

Over the course of three days, I asked her hundreds of questions and watched every move she made with my baby to learn from her words and her actions.

On the fourth day, Mom announced that it was now time for her to go home. I clung to her arm as she tried to leave, pleading while she walked toward her car. “Please don’t go. I don’t know how to care for this little baby.” She promptly replied with, “Yes, you do. You will do fine,” and then added, “But if you have any questions just call me.”

Ben and I have now been married for thirty-five years. During those years, Mom has given me all of the motherly love and care I needed.

My mother-in-law is now ninety-four years old. She lives in a nursing home. Physically, she has some challenges, but she has an incredible memory and an alert mind. She ends every call with, “I love you.”

Now I get it. The timing of my mother’s death was not wrong, nor was it unfair. I can hear, again, my wise mother saying, “God will take care of you. Long after I am gone, God will still take care of you.”

~Jane Dunn Wiatrek

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