When I was a kid, I couldn't wait till Mother's Day. Since I was born, my mother took care of me and my three older sisters all by herself. Every so often there was a new man in her life, but for the most part we were her life. I was so close with my mom. I used Mother's Day as a special day to show my mother my appreciation for what she did for me, day in and day out.
Since the age of 14 I had dreamed about having children. And there was no question about it: I had always had a special fondness for boys. Boys in cute little baseball outfits or suits -- I just adored them. My mother was so worried when she learned that my first baby was going to be a girl: What would I do if I had a girl? After 28 hours of labor, as my baby was entering the world, I heard, "It's a girl!" At first I was just so happy that the baby was healthy, but for a brief moment I was sad that I didn't have a boy! They cleaned her off and lay her in my arms with her head against my heart, and I couldn't have been any happier. I had a healthy, beautiful girl. A month later I got to celebrate my first Mother's Day. Alyssa was only a month old, so she couldn't make me anything, but her existence was enough for me. I honestly can say I was never so happy in my life -- happy first Mother's Day.
A year or so later, I was pregnant again. I started to dream again about having a boy, but I knew I would be just as happy with another girl. I kept thinking, How could this be any better? If I have a son, my daughter can help to make him a sensitive, gentle, kind soul. I don't want a macho, arrogant boy; I just want my children to be kind to others and accept others for who they are.
I started having trouble with the pregnancy in January 1997, seven months into the pregnancy and just a few days before we were to head to Disney World. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and was put on a strict diet. What would this do to the baby growing inside me? Over the next two months I lost 40 pounds. I was so scared: How was my baby doing? Would the baby survive? Would the baby be premature and really tiny? On the first full day of spring 1997, out popped an 8-pound, 5-ounce boy! He seemed so tiny next to my soon-to-be-2-year-old waiting to see her new brother.
Then, when Jamey was just 3 weeks old, he had a really bad fever. He lay in the hospital with a 104-degree temperature. He was so red and hot to the touch. We thought we might lose him. "Please, God," we would pray, "watch over him... we can't lose him... not my baby." A few days later he was fine and returned home. A few weeks later I got to enjoy my second Mother's Day, now with two children -- twice the reason to celebrate.
What more could a mother want but two beautiful, healthy children with two parents there to love them? We seemed to have it all, the perfect family: one girl, one boy, a beautiful dog in a nice little house. Life was complete! My husband and I would talk about how to raise them right, how to prepare them for the world; never did we utter an ignorant phrase like, "Boy, I hope they are not gay when they grow up." We wished for health and happiness, and to be able to teach our children enough to make them responsible adults who could tackle the world on their own some day.
Each Mother's Day that approached had me split equally in half: Half of me was enjoying the life I had with my children, children I'd dreamt of for so long, and the other half was letting my mother know how much I appreciated each and every thing she did for me. I finally understood what unconditional love meant. I'd never really grasped the concept until I had had my own children.
As my children got older, I would look forward to Mother's Day, because we made sure we spent the full day together, and I would tell the kids the stories of when they were born, or how much they changed my life forever. I could never have imagined my life without them. My life had not been complete until they entered it. They started to make me cards and gifts that I will cherish forever.
Little did I know that Sunday, May 8, 2011 would be my last Mother's Day with both my children. Half my life was taken away from me on Sept. 18, 2011. This is when my son Jamey committed suicide. I began to reexamine my life: Why am I here? Why do I exist? Do I deserve to remain on this Earth when my son is no longer with us? My children were my life, the air that I breathed, the reason for my existence. The blood that ran through me was inside both of them. This Mother's Day I will ask myself a question I ask myself every day: Do I deserve to be recognized on Mother's Day after all that has happened? This Mother's Day will be the hardest ever.
I do know that now that my son is in Heaven, he understands why I did the things I did. I wasn't there to just be his friend all the time; at times I had to be the mother who showed him the difference between right and wrong, taught him the ways of the world, and gave him the strength to grow wings so that one day he could fly away on his own. Little did I know that I was building the wings that he would soon use in Heaven. He must have some rather large wings, as I can feel him watching over me all the time, especially in my saddest moments, when I need him the most.
No mother should be without her children, especially on Mother's Day. It is unnatural for parents to bury their children. It is too painful, as we spent 5,294 Earth days loving, nurturing, and taking care of him, watching him grow from an 8-pound, 5-ounce bundle of joy to a 130-pound, 5-foot-4-inch young man in a short 14-and-a-half years. He had just surpassed me in height, but I was so happy looking at "my young man."
How do I plan on spending Mother's Day 2012? It might be a day of just lying in bed, wishing these last eight months were nothing but the worst nightmare of my life. But I must remember that I have a beautiful, intelligent, spectacular daughter to be with and pull it together for her. I will wake up with my husband Tim by my side, we will all have breakfast (hopefully prepared for me), and then I will call my mother, 1,300 miles away, to wish her a happy Mother's Day. I will talk to her as she opens her gift from me and hear how happy she is with it. This year is special, as I got my daughter (who will hopefully be a mother someday), my two sisters, and my mom the same thing I got myself: an angel decoration to remind us all that Jamey is now our angel, and that he has been watching over all of us and will continue to do so until we meet up with him someday. My family will then spend the rest of the day together and enjoy a nice dinner. I will recall all the wonderful moments that I've been blessed with so far as a mother, and maybe the not-so-wonderful moments that we can now look back on and laugh at. Yes, there are still some things that we can't laugh at yet, but Jamey taught me to not be so serious, and to not sweat the small stuff. It took a wise 14-year-old boy to teach me that! At the end of the night this Mother's Day, I will sit in the backyard, where we found Jamey on that Sunday morning, and I will pray to him to let him know how much we all miss him, and how I wish I could have done more to convince him to stay with us on Earth, and how I wish he could have spent all my remaining Mother's Days with me.
For all the young people out there who feel that some days the world is against you, that you can do no right, that you can't please anyone, or that no one loves you, least of all your parents, because they are always telling you what to do and what not to do and that your friends aren't good enough for you, I will clue you in on a little secret: We parents we don't have a secret society where we all get together and discuss how we can humiliate our children and how we secretly desire to make our children's lives harder than they already are. Honestly, everything we do is out of love, and we want to protect and nurture our children and give them the guidance to become responsible, healthy, respectful individuals who will one day have families of their own. Being a parent is a hard job, and we want to be our children's friends while at the same time teaching them, but sometimes being a parent is way more important than just being a friend.
And from the mouth of Jamey: "Love yourself, hold your head up high, and you will go far." Don't worry about the negative things that people may say about you. Be yourself, and love yourself. That is all that matters. We are all different, and we should all embrace those differences, because they make us all unique and special.
To all you moms out there: Happy Mother's Day, and remember to appreciate your children, respect them for who they are, and cherish every moment you have with them, both the good and the bad, because how you look and what you are deep down inside is not all by choice. To all you children: look past what you see as criticism, and understand that you are so loved, more than you can ever imagine, but you may not understand or appreciate it until you are a parent one day. Love yourself, because baby, you were born this way!