I loved being Mommy. For a more than a year, when we tried fruitlessly to get pregnant, I thought I would never be, “Mommy.” Then, we had a baby who was born dying and we fought for every breath he took, and we fought on the battlefront of his very body, and he endured so much for our love. I felt I earned the right to be “Mommy” after all of that drama, after fighting so hard to keep my title.
Then there were two. Their beautiful little voices singing out, “Mommy,” year after year after year. I’ve been “Mommy” for nearly a decade, but now I’m not – or nearly never “Mommy” anymore.
Now, I’m mostly, nearly always, “Mom.” This is a shortening of my title that I did not choose. I literally fought it for two years, insisting with the power of mother-induced guilt that I prefer “Mommy,” without directly demanding that I not be called “Mom.” Jim took faster to “Dad;” it never bothered him like it bothered me. And the thing is, I didn’t know why it bothered me so much until last night.
Last night we were at Barnes & Noble. My Barnes & Noble that I wrote about often in Heart Warriors. Way back in the corner, where we spent hours with our tiny tots, sat the abandoned Thomas the Tank Engine table. It was battered and worn, but I remembered when they replaced it with a brand new one years before. It was marginalized into the baby section, where my kids no longer wandered. My kids were settled at the opposite end of the children’s section consuming books meant for kids their age, kids on the precipice of double-digit age. They were where they belonged, and I was not. I was in the past.
As I was leaving that section, I saw books that brought memories rushing to the surface of my thought-pond. I remembered all of the children I knew who died before their Mommies could be Moms. I remembered buying gifts in this very store for children who were having surgery, some are still living, some were lost. One child, one precious little girl died seven years ago today. She’s been on my mind all month. Her last words were, “Mommy,” she was three years old. She died during my early Mommyhood, and I will never forget her or her Mommy.
I spent so much of Liam’s early childhood willing him, begging God, hoping beyond hope that he would just survive, that I never looked far enough ahead to see the ways in which he would live. He, and Moira, are simply living and being, which is so much bigger and better than simply surviving. My children are living and becoming and being all the things that they should be. This is better than good. In its way, it’s a bit of a miracle.
Yet, I had such a firm grasp on those baby days, not because I was a controlling helicopter mom, but because I truly believed that those day could be all I would ever get. I had such trouble becoming Mom because I never thought I could let go of Mommy without a fight to the death. That is how I’d seen the Mommy title surrendered all around me, in death. That is what I knew. In fact, when I read Wet Oatmeal Kisses by Erma Bombeck, I still weep because I fear a future in which I am left behind because I still don’t know the manner in which it will happen. College or funeral? I cannot count on either. I may not be a Wyvern Mommy, but I’m still a Wyvern Mom.
So, for now, I get the normal way. It’s a precious, precious gift, but I never knew the normal way could be for me. Now that it is, I am so proud, so honored, so incredibly lucky to just be, “Mom.”