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Happy Mother's Day to ME!

I became a mother the day my parents brought my tiny baby brother home. My mother stayed in bed much of time when they first came home. There are versions of stories about what all happened. I’ll tell you, though, I loved that baby boy.

He had his own bedroom, but I liked to climb into the baby bed so I could be with him. It would be less than two years later when another baby landed in that bed.

The time between those babies was tense.

I’m not sure if I ever wanted to mother my siblings, but it became what I did to protect them when my dad was raging at my mother. I would hide them under my bed, behind my body. My brother was always the daring one who would join the argument and start yelling. I had to go get him and hold him down sometimes.

By the time I was 8, my mother had left my father and the 4 of us were alone. She worked. I took care of my siblings. I learned how to cook and do laundry. I cleaned house. I was a little mommy. When one of them had a bad dream, they came and slept in my bed. If they fell, I kissed their boo-boos. When they fought, I swatted them.

It was so commonplace that I was a little mother that when my baby sister (who arrived when I was 12) came home from the hospital, her baby bed was set up in my bedroom. I sang Christmas carols while rocking her during her colicky time sitting in the living room with the tree lights blinking. I have no idea where my parents were.

I stayed at home, alone, with my siblings on the weekends quite often while my mother and my stepfather had some alone time. And when the marriage started to crumble, they bought a camper and parked it in the back yard. I was left in the huge house with the kids and expected to care for them. She yelled into the back door every morning at 7:15 so I would bring the baby and her diaper bag. She drove her to the daycare and then on to school where she was a teacher. At 7:30, I made sure my brother and sister and I were waiting on the school bus. She would know if we didn’t make it.

I officially left home, by my own choice, when I was 15. You see...I had become hard-to-deal-with and had refused to come home.

My mother and I had gotten into an intensely important argument about strawberry pie. She got so mad at me for questioning her that she stormed out. I sat at the table in our kitchen and decided that I was sick of this mess. I called my best friend. She and her daddy came to get me, or rather, us. I couldn’t just leave my siblings at home alone. They were 11, 9 and 3. And there pops up the irony. I couldn’t leave my siblings home alone, even though my mother had left me home alone before I was 8.

I had left her a note about where I was. When she came to get us, she huffed to me, “Don’t come home if you don’t want to.” It fueled a deep anger within me. When I finished buckling my siblings into the van, I stepped back out and went into my best friend’s house.

I missed my siblings when I was gone. My mother used them to make my life miserable. I wasn’t allowed to see them. I’d find a way to see them on the school bus, but she kept the baby sister far away. She is the reason I came back home 6 months later. I needed to be with my babies.

But I’d be gone again within a few months to live with a family in our church because my mother was still crazy. And when I was unable to escape her crazy antics and emotional outburst to our church members, I knew I had to face the music. It was the summer before my senior year. I had almost no friends. I had moved schools 14 times in the 11 years of school. My only choice besides foster care was my father and his new wife. I knew I would miss my siblings being 4 hours away, but I also was facing the fact that within a year I would be leaving them to start my adult life anyway. So, I was carted away almost overnight and began a new chapter of never-living-with-my-mother-again. I would be close to my Nanny and I would be free from being anyone’s mother.

Two months later, my brother was sent to me/his father.

I officially became a mother on November 14th with the arrival of the cutest, little boy entered into my world. Delivered by c-section, he arrived at 3:10 p.m and weighed 7 pounds and 10 oz. The nurses tried to show him to me, but the anesthesia would not let me open my eyes. As a consolation, they set his little foot into my hand so I could hold him. When I awoke from my sleep six hours later, I saw him. I saw the little ears that were shaped like his father’s. I saw the pink little nose and the strawberry blond hair. And I knew from deep within my soul that I would do anything, ANYTHING, to take care of this little boy and protect him from all harm and hurt and heartache.

I may have been mother-ly for most of my life, but that little boy's entry into the living world made me A MOTHER. It took one look for me to become so in-love with him that I hurt. I was ever-aware that I needed to hold him and protect him. It happened without a pros and cons list. I didn't even have time to process any feelings at all. His arrival had brought me to motherhood with lightening-speed. And with this overwhelming adoration for my son came the first-ever understanding to my heart that my mother was a broken individual who had never been a mother.

From my experience, you just become a mother. One day you are caring for children or even having a baby, and then out of nowhere, you become a mother. I had been a mother for about 15 conscious minutes when I had to choose whether to hold my baby because that made me feel happy or to let someone else take him because I was going to puke on him. It hurt me to hand him over. It was our first moment and I wanted to count his toes and kiss his little nose, but I was NOT about to vomit on my baby. He deserved a better first day than this. (I mean, seriously, he had already been jerked out of his happy, comfy, warm little home.)

The woman who I called my mother, who birthed me from her own body, could not have ever felt the way I did in that moment. Because I knew, that unless these feelings faded away, I could never do anything that would cause him harm or lead him to be hurt. I knew I would be calculatingly careful with my every choice to make wise decisions with him as the lens through which I would view my options. He really was that much of a blessing to me.

Those feelings did not fade. Even as I faced having a second son, I became aware of my motherly gifts. I was fearful that my feelings for that first son would always overshadow how I could feel for a new son. Or perhaps my feelings would shift from son #1 to son #2. After voicing these things over the years, I know that most mothers worry about these same things. And like those same mothers, I fell in love with that second son and still was totally devoted to my first one.

How does one heart so fully love two individuals? How is it okay to love two individuals more than you love your own self?

Becoming a mother was quickest mend to my brokenness that I ever received.

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