Mother’s Day: Revisited

Mother’s Day Never Ends
My good friend and Olena’s Godmother, Susan, recently completed a series of stories focusing on Mother’s Day. She then turned the tables on me and asked me the following. While I can write a few chapters on each question, I will try my best to keep the answers short and sweet.
When you think of the word mother, what do you think? What does the word mother mean to you?
IMAGE My mom, Amelia

My mom at my Christening party back in 1972!

That’s easy. I think of comfort. I think of my mother Amelia. I think about the impact that she made on my life, and on the lives of my siblings, and I am so thankful that she is still here to see these triplets and all her grandchildren.When I was on bed rest, in those darkest of hours when we thought those babies were coming early, or when I couldn’t sleep, or when they couldn’t detect any movement in Gretchen (she was sleeping! It was daytime!!), one of the things that got me through was imaging being back on the couch at my mom’s. The warm glow of the sun on my face. The sheer curtains blowing in the breeze. The AM radio blasting… and my mom, just being there.

She was always there.

Like most kids, I took for granted all that she did for me. She made sure my clothes were clean, that I was fed, and that I took a bath (at least once in a while). She kept me focused. She kept me grounded. She kept me out of trouble the best she could (I was afraid of the repercussions. It worked!)

It wasn’t until much, much later that I really appreciated all she did. My mom left her hometown of Binghamton, N.Y., two hours away from her family and close friends, to start a new life with my father in Utica. She was always there for him, and for us, and now she’s here fulfilling her role as grandmother.

How was your adjustment to motherhood?

IMAGE Me and Gretchen, April 07, Kangaroo care

Kangaroo care with little Gretchen, April 2007, Crouse NICU

Unlike moms who could take their babies home soon after delivery, I had the task of adjusting to delivering the babies at 28 weeks, not being able to hold them, and having to leave them in the hospital NICU to continue to develop.There is nothing to compare it to. I don’t know how to explain what we went through. My adjustment was quick…it had to be.And yet I can’t believe they’re here, that they’re now 5 years old, and that I’m a mom.

Is there anything about them being babies, being toddlers, that you miss?

I miss being able to put them down, go and get their food, and come back and have them still be in the same spot.

I miss seeing all those firsts.

I will say when you have a baby, and you bring that baby home, almost everyone tells you how quickly time goes by. Then, in the middle of the night or at the 2 a.m. feeding, all you want to do is punch the person who says that next. Hate to say it kids, but it does go by fast (I’m ducking now!). But it is amazing to see them grow right before your eyes.

What do you know now that you wish you knew before you had kids?

Ha! I’m still learning! Seriously, the one thing I wish I had known was just how much you become your child’s doctor. Because, even though you go to experts and specialists who have spent years in the pediatric field, NOTHING compares to being in the trenches with your kid. You know when they’re sick, when they’re thinking of being sick, and sometimes just by looking at them you realize that they are coming down with something even before the lab tests confirm it. This is ESPECIALLY important if you happen to have a non-verbal child. Moms, hear me now, ALWAYS GO WITH YOUR GUT!!! You know your kid. That’s all that matters.

Oh and for the Love of Pete, throw out those milestone charts! Your child will reach those milestones on their own time. Trust that they will.

How does your parenting style compare to your mother’s?

On a day-to-day basis I am in the trenches, learning as I go, and dreadfully outnumbered. My mom had 5 kids. I’m sure she felt the same.  She was my teacher. So I try to do things the way she would.

Are you strict?

See above. I’m outnumbered. Yes, I’m strict. But we still have tons of fun.

What’s the best part of motherhood for you?

The best part, so far, is just seeing these kids playing, enjoying themselves, and having fun. I love hearing those giggles!

What are your dreams for your children?

They are really catching up to their peers and I can’t ask for more. I want them to be happy and be healthy and be the best people they can be.

What’s the hardest part of being a mom?

The hardest part by far is when they are ill, and the fact that you cannot change a diagnosis. Dealing with specialists and doctors can be difficult, unless you keep in mind that you know your children best. In Theodore’s case, because of his Autism when he gets sick he can regress just a bit and it’s always a challenge. But it’s never easy when anyone is sick.

Also, it’s hard to give the kids that one-on-one time. I do my best to carve out time for everyone. I hope they know that.

What’s your greatest reward about motherhood?

Greatest reward? It’s when you realize that your love is unconditional and that you are strong and that you are making a difference — sometimes big, sometimes small — for someone else.

Do you ask your mother for advice and do you take it?

Mom likes to say that she was in the mothering mode so long ago that she didn’t remember what she did… So I don’t ask for day-to-day advice.

I do remember one converation we had. It was early on when we were experiencing sleep deprivation, acid reflux and colic, Olena’s recurrent croup before we found out she had asthma (this was when we kept visiting the ER with her), and we were waiting for an official diagnosis for Theodore’s autism. I was giving her an update on everything the kids were doing and I just stopped talking… I was crying.

Our conversation fell silent. She stopped talking when she heard me sobbing.

She said, “Don’t cry. Honey, don’t cry.”

She didn’t tell me about her concerns. She didn’t say she thought Gretchen was small, or that Olena had this or Theo had that. She didn’t mention anything about the silly milestone charts…. she simply said, “Everything will be OK.”

And I just felt this weight lifted off me.

She said it, and I believed it.

So If anything, if my mom can have that soothing power over me, I certainly hope I can do the same for my triplets.


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