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Lillian Rivera

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What Mother's Day Means to Our Family

Posted: 05/13/2012 1:18 am

Co-written with Elsa Vasquez

When we think about what Mother's Day means to a family like ours, two moms and a daughter, we think about our journey as a family.

We had no idea what we were in for when we first caught glimpse of that little speck on the sonogram. As any first-time parents-to-be, we prepped as much as we could. We read parenting books, bought all the latest baby gadgets, baby-proofed our apartment. We stayed up many nights discussing what her name should be, whether to hyphenate or not, what she would look like, and what her life with two moms would mean.

In November 2008 Olivia entered our world, weighing in at 8 pounds, 0 ounces. This tiny baby would change our lives, and our sleeping patterns. Now at nearly 4 years of age and 40 pounds, Olivia is our life and our world. Every day we are privy to her wonder, excitement, curiosity, fearlessness, compassion, fierce imagination, and unconditional love.

Life with a toddler offers many opportunities for us to impart life lessons, and for Olivia to impart her wisdom to us. This past December Olivia's grandfather passed away. We were not sure how to approach her with the devastating news, because she was very close to her grandfather. We sat her down and told her that Grandpa had died because he was sick and that she was not going to see him anymore, because he had gone to heaven. Olivia's response was surprising and beautiful. She asked if Grandpa got to heaven in a car or in an airplane. We told her that he did not get there in either one, and then proceeded to explain to our 3-year-old the very complex concept of a soul. Then again she asked, "But did he get there in a car or an airplane?" It wasn't until the day of the funeral that we understood what she was trying to impart. Olivia watched her grandfather's casket being carried into the hearse, then she leaned over and said, "See, Mama? Grandpa is going to heaven in a car. He is going to be OK now. You don't have to cry." It was then that we realized that Olivia was teaching us about grief and resilience and reminding me that just because a person has died, that doesn't mean that the relationship has died, too. We've found many ways to keep both of her grandfathers present in our lives, even though they have both passed.

We've learned a few more lessons. A week ago we were going through the process of registering Olivia for preschool. We got teary-eyed at the idea of her growing up and going to school. What would preschool be like? Would she get along with the other kids? Would there be other kids with two moms there? Olivia put her little hands on our faces and said, "Don't worry, Moms, I'm going to be all right. I'm just going to school. I'll be back home." And with that, our toddler taught us an important lesson: Stop worrying and enjoy the journey!

A few nights a week, right after dinner and right before bath time, we do arts and crafts. On one such night she stopped what she was doing and asked us if she could stay her old self. Not understanding what she meant, we asked her to clarify. Once again she repeated her question: "Mama, can I stay my old self? I want to stay little."

"Of course you can stay little. You will be a child for a very long time," Mama replied.

"I don't want to grow up," she said. "I am having too much fun, Mama." The lesson there, plain and simple: Have fun!

On this Mother's Day we will honor our little family of three. We will reminisce about the day she was born and look forward to her journey into preschool and beyond. We will celebrate our love, our commitment, and our journey as parents of an amazing child who inspires us to laugh, love, and enjoy and accept life's lessons.

 
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