When Jamison asked me to write something for the Mother’s Day Issue I was overwhelmed. How does one describe being a Mother? It is INDESCRIBABLE. It is all encompassing. It defines who we are. It leads to both more joy and more sorrow than anything else. There is nothing like the feeling of being about to burst with joy with the happiness of your child. There is nothing like the sinking, aching feeling when your child is in pain. And, as my Mom says, "It’s a job that never ends."
One of the most exciting times of my life was the days just before my first child, Will, was born. I had survived the pregnancy and was focusing on the birth process and my son that was about to be born. I knew my life was about to change radically and was so excited to begin the grand adventure of Motherhood. My life did change in an amazing way after Will was born. All of the sudden things really mattered. I mattered. I was responsible. This child depended on me. Who would care for him if something happened to William and me? Excitement, responsibility, and worry. That’s Motherhood.
I loved being a mother and worked mostly from home so I could spend as much time as possible with my joyful Will. But it wasn’t until about a year and a half later that I began to think of myself as a REAL mother as I earnestly said to my toddler, "Honey, please don’t wipe your face on the tablecloth." Reality swept through me, "I’m an honest-to-goodness mother!" I chuckled to myself and thought, "What a great name for an Erma Bombeck book!" Motherhood certainly has a way of grounding you!
My children, Will and Cassie, are a constant source of joy and light. We are fortunate to have a lifestyle where we spend lots of time together and really know and enjoy each other. We have animals that enrich our lives. We live off the grid on solar power. We try to be responsible stewards of our land and its resources. I’m thankful that I can pass on to my children the love of country life that my parents instilled in me. I really try to listen to my children and discover who they are. They are both unique -- Will with his intelligence, integrity, wit, and wisdom, and Cassie with her logic, helpfulness, energy, and perseverance.
Motherhood is a state of mind – a state of being. It doesn’t matter how it is created. It’s not merely a function of giving birth. It creates a bond between women that is unbreakable. I am so lucky to have a mother, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law, and friends to share the bond and experience with. My little sister just had a baby and one of my clients who is a kindergarten teacher crocheted an afghan for the baby! That’s what Motherhood is all about. One of my favorite things is at the supermarket when a child cries a plaintive "MOM" and every mother - young and old - turns to look. It always brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. That’s Motherhood.
We recently shared an experience that exemplifies the toughness, tenderness, and responsibility of Motherhood. We had a wonderful older horse, Sunny, that was given to us by the Friday family. Sunny was a hardy old guy that had finished many endurance rides, ridden through the Ventana Wilderness countless times, packed many miles, and given children lots of rides and tenderness. Sunny was Will’s horse, but we all enjoyed riding him, feeding him carrots and apples, and just plain being with him. He was always calm and in good temperament. Sunny was a treasured member of our family. In March, Sunny met with some unfortunate circumstances and was unable to enjoy life the way he used to. Although hurting, he remained chipper and gave us a loud vigorous whinny when he saw us. But he got down and his legs were giving out. We realized that it was time to think about a tough decision that the Vet had recommended. And then darned if he didn’t get himself back up standing again. What stamina and determination. But he was still in great pain. We figured this would be the time to do it as he was tough and proud and didn’t like being unable to get up. If he went down again, it’d be the last time. What a tough decision. We talked and cried. I told the tearful tale of the death of my filly when I was 12. We talked and cried some more. My heart ached for Sunny and my children. We decided that he deserved the dignity of dying while he was still on his feet. William made the arrangements. The Vet came later that day and we all attended Sunny in his final moments. We shared a bag of apples with him, brushed him, talked to him, and loved him. Sunny’s life ended peacefully and lovingly. With serendipity, four hours later, our pregnant mare gave birth. Luckily, I was there because only one foot and the nose appeared. There was no time to call the rest of the family to be present for the birth. I located the other hoof and gently reached up the leg and pulled it to where it should be for a proper delivery. The birth continued and when the head was delivered I saw a huge white Sun-shaped star on the baby’s head through the thin amniotic sac. What a blessing! We’d already decided to name the baby "Little Sunny." Little Sunny Girl is strong and vigorous and runs with exuberance. Sunny would be proud of his namesake. Tears of joy and tears of sorrow. That’s Motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day!
This article was orignally published by Jamison Kaufman in Carmel Valley Magazine (May 2006). It is reprinted here with her permission. Jamison is still doing graphic design. Check out her website at Red and Yellow Gecko Design.