my marmie*

my cousin, marmie & me, my birthday swim party

Yes, this is my first mothers day but what is on my heart isn't so much that I am a mother (holy loveliness...I am a mother!) but more what type of mother my marmie was/is to me.

I remember my older sisters having babies when I was younger and each of them had a moment when they called my marmie in tears, thanking her for all she had done to raise them. They had realized during those early days of baby puke soaked hair and non-showerness that she worked really hard to keep them safe, fed, nurtured and happy babies, without much sleep, without much help, without complaint and without much acknowledgement. I can imagine all new mothers or those that take care of infants have that epiphany about whomever raised them and feel so very humbled and grateful.

What I have experienced while caring for Cedar and thinking about my mother, is not only feeling humbled and grateful but so much awe of her strength and resilience. You see, what a lot of people that come here may not know about me was that I was a very sick baby and child. First it was being diagnosed with Celiac Disease at about 1 years old. I wasn't holding anything in and was malnourished and sent to Stanford hospital. No one knew what was wrong with me and they prepared my parents for the worst. When a doctor from Europe had heard about me, they did a biopsy and diagnosed me and it was then that my parents world had turned upside down. My belly had a lot of healing to do since for a long while before diagnosis doctors were telling her to feed me crackers and other things with gluten to hold my food in. All the while, those were the very things my body was rejecting. Yes, my parents were thankful that I was going to live and that there was treatment but at that time there were only 12 cases in the United States and not a lot of research done. This was a European disease and not well known in our parts. Therefore, we didn't have aisles of gluten free products like there are today. So back then, it seemed so much more daunting than it is now. My mother had to send away for special food and read every label and make two meals per night during my adolescent years. Gluten was in every fricken thing in the 70's. She had to be very, very creative. ; )

Not only was it my diet that presented challenges at school and parties but I also had severe asthma and allergies. Many nights I went into my parents bedroom at around 2am in the morning, tapping my mom on the arm, telling her I couldn't breathe. At that time, they didn't have the pulmonaide machines, so off to the emergency room we'd go. She never once showed me that she was annoyed being woken up from a deep sleep over and over again. Never annoyed that we had to keep daddy sleeping because he worked early each morning. She just held me, talked softly, got me dressed and to the hospital as if she was taking me to the candy store. She always helped to calm me and not feel afraid. Then, while sitting in the emergency room, hooked up to meds that made me beyond hyper, she would giggle with me at the hilarity of it all. I never remember her mentioning the frustration of getting a few hours sleep. I never remember her taking a nap the next day.

Then there were the many days I would come inside from playing out in a pollen soaked yard, with swollen eyes, a headache and stuffed nose. She would put ice cubes in a face cloth and hold them to my eyes, make me drink cold water and sooth me until the attacks subsided. The best thing for me to do would have been to stay indoors with the windows closed but she knew I needed stimulation and play. Despite the consequences she knew she'd have to deal with, she wanted this for me. I couldn't play sports or be that active and as a result had to be really creative with my play. I can imagine many parents are relieved to have their children involved in outdoor activities and sports because it gives them space and time to indulge in non-parenting rituals. For sanity. For rejuvenation. For inspiration. But my mother was okay that I was around a lot and always made me feel welcome in her arms.

I am amazed that it was never made to be anything other than normal for her. Even though she had two daughters before me that were healthy and sprite. I was never made to feel less than or hard to deal with or an annoyance. So, I grew up with a very healthy self esteem. My identity was never wrapped around having Celiac or asthma or allergies. I was so many other things because my parents encouraged and celebrated those qualities in me. I grew up believing I was kind and considerate, peaceful and sensitive, empathetic and wise...not sickly. I never talked about my disease or my allergies or asthma because I was taught to not allow them to rule my life. So, by the time I reached high school, I was outgoing and confident and secure. Only a few of my friends knew I had Celiac or asthma or allergies because I rarely thought about it. Nothing I was ashamed of but I just considered it a way of life for me and I didn't allow it to become a burden.

I am sharing all of this because now that I am a mother, for the first time I am fully realizing all of this. All of the hard work my mother went through with her extreme patience and tolerance and resilience and selflessness to care for me. Having gone through a few tough months with Cedar and his GERD and how I was tired to the bone and still had to continue on...I think of her and the years she must have been tired to the bone, caring for me. She never told me she was tired. She always remembers that I was patient and tolerant and resilient and kind. Those are the things I hear; how I was a hero through it all. But to me, she was the hero.

marmie & me, the day after my wedding

I love you marmie. If I have never thanked you, I am thanking you now, in front of thousands of people and I would shout it to the world. Thank you for knowing exactly how to love me and for grooming me into the woman I am today, despite those challenges that faced you as a mother. It is because of how I was raised that I had resilience, patience and determination as a woman struggling with fertility. I never allowed it to define me. I never allowed it to strip away all of the other qualities in myself that needed to be celebrated.

I am a fighter...because of you and your belief in me.

Happy Mother's Day, marmie. As a new mom, I celebrate YOU.