Today is my mother’s birthday. She left this realm over six years ago, eleven days before my 40th birthday. I recognize the emotions that come with dates. I honor the tears, appreciation, love and gratitude that visit with the memories. I try not to have attachments but some days are monumental. My mother was a remarkable woman. She had me at the age of 44. Now raising an infant at the same age that she raised me I can see and feel her in my heart. I can sense the echoes of voices from the past guiding me through intimate moments. I have spoken to her in dreams, waiting for a confirmation of pride for the life I’ve chosen to lead. I wonder what she would say to the woman I’ve become. I was always a “different” child and in the past few years that “difference” has soften me quite a bit. But, that’s the thing about parent-child relationships: we want acceptance and confirmations from our elders. We want to know that our legacy is of good-standing with them. It doesn’t matter how old we get. We still need that unconditional love. We arrive into this world to learn while picking those souls who will give and provide the most important lessons from early on. We enter adulthood, womanhood, and every other stage of development with hope that we are doing the best in this world. We do think through our parents. We return to a place of uncertainty and muttered through it while creating a world of magic.
Two nights ago when the baby woke at 1AM I held her tightly after feeding her. Her little head nudging on my shoulder, her hands holding on to my pj’s and I came to that epitome that no one right now in my life loves me with such unconditional love as this little baby. Her face lights up every time she sees me. She smiles from the place of divinity with complete and utter gratitude for my presence. Children are non-judgmental and full of light. I forget what it was like with mine not long ago. I do remember that Patrick (my second son) was so in love with me. When he was 5 and I was 27 we were driving into our development…(I remember as if it was yesterday and he will be 24 on Tuesday). From the backseat he said, “Mommy, I wish I could stay 5 forever so I can love you like this.” I looked at the rear view mirror taking it in. He was far in advancement in so many levels. He needed constant challenging because he was so smart and suffered from what is clinically ADHD. I refused the medication so I had to constantly be stimulating him with knowledge and activities. He was grateful.
Now, this baby is the same. She’s a smart little soul. She’s come in with such light and love and this particular morning I had a hard time letting her down to continue her sleep. She didn’t cry or fuss. I just went to bed thinking, “This is the definition of giving and receiving in God’s terms. This is the simplicity of life. We all want to be loved, held, caress, and respected with the utmost presence.”
I am witnessing the miracle of life through her. I wonder if my mother saw that in me at this age. She had two other daughters much older than me. One is 15 years and the other 24 years my senior. In my twenties I didn’t notice these divine moments with my kids as I was too busy trying to survive, constantly stressed with I-don’t-know-what. I wonder what she saw when I would wake in the middle of the night. I wonder how she felt raising a child alone in a world that was so full of judgment, scrutiny, intolerance in a Hispanic community.
I have come to realize that often times we step into our parents’ shoes without truly being conscious. My mother wasn’t ever too keen on my adoptions and “complicating my life.” Whenever issues rose she had a comment or two that made me feel as if no matter what I did with my kids it wasn’t sufficient. But one day, sharing some hurtful words of betraying friends and how I was not a normal parent my mother stepped up to the plate and said, “Of course they think that about you. You make it look so easy. Anything that looks that easy with six kids must be wrong. Envy is an ugly monster.” In that comment I heard pride. She couldn’t say I was doing it right but her words allowed me to witness the sincerity of motherhood, woman to woman. She admired my tenacity and compassion. She never understood the need to help these kids but she finally stepped back and watched.
Now, on her birthday I light a candle in front of her picture. She’s lovely. My mother was always well put. She never left the house without makeup. Unlike me, she dressed to impress. She used to say that the deeper her issues and problems were the more she got dolled up. No one needed to know what she was experiencing. I admire that.
I am settling into a new role while understanding my beautiful mother. Within all her beauty and flaws there was divinity. She was wise and fearless. She was intelligent and resourceful. She was a go-getter and wasn’t afraid of change. I have acquired those qualities of tenacity and persistence. Happy birthday, Josefina! Thank you for teaching me how to mother, be a mother and love as a mother from a place of spirit. I hope you know I will always admire and love you until we meet again!