Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

Unconditional Love

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.

Robert Browning

Thomas and I met my freshman year of college. We immediately found a comfort level with each other, despite our mutual inexperience with dating.

After the first year of dating, Mom asked me, “Do you see yourself marrying Thomas?” I said yes, I knew he was the one. Fast-forward a year and a half. I was lying in the backyard hammock at my parent’s house, reading a book. It was the last bit of my life that would seem normal. I had a secret. I had kept it from my parents for five days because I was scared to death about the implications of this life-giving journey.

Mom joined me in the hammock on that June afternoon, an afternoon that changed everything. I put down my book and we swung next to each other. I just had to tell her. I didn’t know how to begin, so I said, “Mom, will you always love me no matter what?”

She gripped me and said, “There is nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you.”

“I’m in trouble.”

“I know.” She had found a small crumpled up sheet of paper in my trashcan as she emptied it the night before. On the paper were scribbled my thoughts, Giving life versus doing what’s easiest for me. Don’t have all I want for a baby, but have lots of love to give. My secret was out. The tears came bursting from my eyes, held in for too long. I knew my childhood was now behind me, and nothing would ever be the same. Worst of all was the fear that I had irreparably disappointed my parents.

The next weeks and months were a blur of family meetings, wedding planning, and doctor’s appointments. It was the strangest blending of joy and sadness, bliss and anger that I ever felt. Mom and I had episodes of push and pull. It was a difficult realization that I would be leaving home a full year earlier than expected, my college graduation pushed back to accommodate the birth of my son. One particularly hard day left us both in tears and needing our distance. The next morning I found a rose in a dainty vase next to my bed with a note. It read:

To my dearest daughter: As beautiful as this rose is, you are more beautiful and precious to me. Never have you been a disappointment to me, only my source of greatest joy. Love, Mom.

Mom worked so hard to make my wedding day a joyful one, and it was. I wouldn’t change anything about it. Thomas was welcomed into the family with a great celebration that spoke of grace. After the reception, I thanked my parents for a beautiful wedding and gave Mom a lingering hug. The guests blew bubbles as we sped off in the getaway car to our brief honeymoon. It wasn’t until we got the pictures back from the photographer that I saw the tears in Mom’s eyes as we left the reception.

Exactly six months after my wedding day, Mom was beside me and Thomas in the delivery room as we anticipated the arrival of the first grandchild. She was the one who placed him in my arms, my little Andrew William. She spent the first few nights with us and confidently comforted my screaming baby in the night, even though she was just as tired as I was. She came to my rescue on days I just couldn’t get on top of the laundry or pull myself together to make dinner. She supported me emotionally, too, telling me often what a good mother I was.

On my first Mother’s Day, she wrote me a letter:

To my dearest daughter, on this your first Mother’s Day, I know full well that your road to motherhood has been an unexpected detour. Although you had not longed for a baby as I had, God still prepared your heart and will to be a wonderful mother to Andrew. Love him well . . . love him enough to give him your time, your joy, your discipline, your unconditional love. Mom My mom and I have always had a special relationship.

Even through the difficult teenage years we kept the lines of communication open. And when the hardest year in my life came, our friendship did not shatter. Instead, I learned of the deep, deep love a mother has for her child, a love that nothing can come between. I feel this love firsthand when I hold my son. I sometimes fear that I won’t be able to protect him from the world. I fear that he will experience pain and sometimes have to learn lessons the hard way. But following Mom’s example, I know I will love him unconditionally.

Rachel Lee Stuart

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