I was going to name this post "I Am a Mother". But as I sit here in the hospital room, hearing the nurses talking, typing by the moonlight coming through the window, hearing the beeps, and listening for my mother-in-law so if she gets restless, I can get up and console her, I thought, "Wait! I am a caregiver." My next thought is that the words "mother" and "caregiver" are in many ways one and the same.
In a previous post, I blogged about how I never prayed to have children, that I never planned to have my children, but as soon as I knew they were there, I started to pray for them. And I prayed for the spouses that they might have when they grow up, and I prayed for their health and safety. You know...things that I think every mother prays for her children. It's a miracle to me to think about how God knew just exactly when to surprise me with one of His creations to love and nurture, and when I think about finishing the sentence, "I am..." my mind automatically says "a mother". I am a mother.
I have nearly always been a mother, at least in so many ways. Being the oldest of four, I "mothered" my sisters, and perhaps I "smothered" my sisters! :) I've given them baths, I've helped them learn how to spell. I've taken them for breakfast, I've cooked with them. I've consoled them, and I've spoiled them. I've given them advice, and I've loved them fiercely, as if they were my children.
Next comes the biological classification of children. Katie was first. I remember she and I, rocking, rocking, rocking at night, and how I would hold her and think that she was perfect in every way. I would sing to her until I fell asleep with her in my arms. We did a lot of bonding, she and I. (And we still do.) Many a morning, she was the reason I got up and carried on, and because of her, the rest of the family was born. She has been the most monumental influence on my life, for without her, I don't know who I would have become, what I would have done, and if I didn't have a reason to go to school, to prove myself, I'm not sure that I would be who I am today. In fact, I am very sure I would be someone completely different. I'm thankful for Katie because I like who I am. :) Next came Jessica...oh, how she looked up to me, and oh, how I cared about her. (She would technically be my neice, but when it comes to technicallities and motherhood, who's counting anyways???) I came into her life when she was in Kindergarten, we did a lot of things together, went a lot of places, and as she got older, she "mothered" my children. Without her, there have been times that I'm not sure what I would have done. Then we were blessed with Kevin. I was scared to death when I found out that we were expecting him, but overshadowing that fear was my excitement...would Kate have a sister or a brother? Like I said, I was scared...after all, I was only 17, and Katie wasn't very old, and we were just starting out...but as the days wore on, the fear shrunk and shrunk until it was gone, and exitement over the surprise God had given us continued to grow as we found out it was a boy (a first in my family), and as his birthday drew nearer. Again, a perfect baby was put in my arms, and it was love at first sight. This kid is destined for great things, for helping people, for sharing the stuff he's made of with others. I can't explain it; he just is. And then....then, well, we *thought* we were through. But as is His plan, we were not through. Twelve years after my "baby" was born, we were blessed with Miss Anna Lucia. This child was born to heal people and to bring people together. She was born to show others how to be happy, and she was born for us all to enjoy. It's almost like she's the cherry on top, just for good behavior...we get to enjoy her. (Thank you Jesus!)
The next classification of "mother" that I am stems from a job I found in the paper to be a teacher. After I had Anna, I started working with the teens that I *very* affectionately call my "troublemakers". And not only did I teach them, but yeah....I mothered them. After all, their moms were in other states, and they were there in a new, scary place and everyone needs to feel as if they have *someone* in their corner, don't they? I still (s)mother many of them now. One is getting married, and starting a family of his own, complete with a school-teacher wife and a (mostly) Boxer puppy to keep them company. And as was his word, an invite to this occassion will be reaching my mailbox soon. Another has needed my help as he was around the wrong people at the wrong time...and this kid...he makes me happy. And he visits me, and I love him and I love his mom, and I love to see him healthy. Then there was the girl that laughed at me when I asked her to consider going to a small, private college close to our town. Guess what? That girl graduated from that college, and is in a job doing what she loves, helping other people. I have "family" in Georgia. Lots of family...many families...and I miss them as I have not been able to travel there in the last few years. However, I did come through with two promises I made: one was to wear a red dress to his graduation, and the other was to go to a graduation in his big, red truck. Those kids are healthy now, with their diplomas in hand, and are moving on to find careers and such. I could go on and on and on. I love them all so very much, and I love that they "let" me keep track of them. I love how they just pop up here and there, giving me a smile, and always acknowledging me when I comment on their facebook pages, send them a text, or give them a call. And you know what? Those rock hard troublemaking kids *love* now, and they are thriving young adults, and here is the best part: they love me back. I miss my job helping those kids, and I so wish that I could continue working with them, but alas, that job came to an end...at least as far as right there, at the ranch. Again, I still mother them...I can do that from anywhere! :)
Next comes the kids that I inherited because they were friends with my kids. A couple of them dutifully call me "mom"...which I love. Just like my troublemaker kids, these kids pop in and out here and there and just make my day. I spent the better part of the afternoon today with two of my "sons" just doing nothing, but being around each other, laughing, being silly, talking, not talking, just enjoying being. Those are the good times. Those are the things that make up memories. The little things that you have no idea make such an impression on the person you "surprise" with a visit, a smile, a text, a call, what have you. Just because they do love you, even if they mumble it sometimes. :)
I think I've kept the chronological order going fairly well here, and I believe that the inheritance of a little blonde headed girl, full of mischieviousness, and bursting at the seems for some attention from a mother figure is next on the list. I will always remember the first time I went to her program at school. When she spotted me, she was so excited I had came, she told the girl next to her, "My MOM'S here!!!" And my heart melted even more. We've had our ups and downs, she and I, and I would wager to bet we have many more of those trials, tribulations, and successes down the road, but I do believe that a mother's love is a love that can never be broken . It can be hurt, yes. But never turned off. I love this child as if she were my own, and to be factual, she is. I wanted to teach her to cook, to be crafty, to do things special with her, because she needed that, and I think the day that she gashed her leg open and would not be consoled until she talked to me, I knew that indeed, she loved me back as well, and needed me.
Then there is this mother that comes out when I am around my friend. She is younger than me, yes. But not that much younger. But I am fiercely protective of her, as a mother would be, because she lost her mother last year in a very tragic accident. I cannot imagine...I saw the pain and suffering she went through. I see the pain and suffering she still goes through. She has got to be the strongest, most determined individual I've ever known, yet I am fiercely protective of her. I don't want to take the place of her mother, nor could I if I tried, but she allows me to be the mother duck...she humors me. :)
I think the common thread that runs through all of these roles, all of these different types of motherhood relationships is compassion. Compassion for others. And I believe it is that compassion that prompts the role of caretaker as well.
Since this post got embarassingly long...I will continue the second half of this post about being a caretaker tomorrow....stay tuned, and thank you for reading all of that if you got this far....also, while I'm thinking tonight in my sleep, if there is any sort of "motherhood" that I've left out, I will be adding it to the next post. :)
Until next time.....