I have never watched The Family Guy (though for all you
McFarlane fans I have seen Ted three times), but I have seen the
clip of Stewie trying to get Lois' attention. "Mommy, mommy, mommy,
mum, mum, mum, mother, mother, mother," the little guy repeats over
and over. Any woman who is a mother can relate to that scene. It
makes me laugh out loud every time, though when it happened for
real many years ago I failed to see the humor.
Today, I watch my grandson perform the same feat. Whether it is
calling out "Mommy" on the other side of the bathroom door while my
daughter tries to take a shower, or if it is a rapid succession of
"Grandma's" as he tries to show me something, the theme is
universal. When a child wants your attention they are unrelenting.
Their energy seems to explode while yours gets zapped. They don't
give up until they break you down. And when you finally drop
whatever you are doing, look them in the eye, and say "What?!" they
smile and with all sense of urgency mysteriously vanished, they
Being a mom is without a doubt the highlight of my career - and
my life. I was one of those girls who always knew I would have
children. There were no doubts in my mind. I know exactly when I
conceived each of my daughters and I remember the details of their
births - 24 hours of labor with Vicki and natural childbirth with
Kelly. As much as I love them both and have no regrets, I certainly
have no desire to ever go through that again!
Though all moms have their own personality and ways of raising
their brood, there are some commonalities in the sisterhood of
motherhood. We celebrate the same triumphs and lament the same
heartaches. We share the universal themes, some of which include
Every mother lives for the firsts and when they happen, she shares
the story with the world - or at least anyone who will listen.
Baby's firsts are rites of passage for both the child and the
mom. For mom, each first is a verification of a job well done. That
first smile means our baby is happy. The first tooth, the first
step and the first word are milestones on the growth chart. We
surmise that we must be providing the proper nutrition and
nurturing. The first hug and "I love you" confirms we are raising a
loving, caring little human being. It doesn't get better than
As our children become adults, there remains a succession of
firsts. There are dates, driving, moving away from home, moving
back home, heartbreaks, weddings and the most awaited of all firsts
- the grandchild. First dates and driving both fall under the
"scary" category. Our first inclination is to protect them, but we
have to have the talk with ourselves about allowing them their
independence. The first move away from home can bring on the
empty-nest syndrome. But have no fear, they will be back - mark my
Some firsts are monumental at the moment they occur, but that
memory can fade over time as it is layered over with other firsts.
For this reason, we choose to document these moments for posterity.
In my day, these events were recorded into a baby book.
Accompanying the handwritten account would be a baby tooth, a lock
of hair or a Polaroid picture. There are reels of Super 8 film
sitting in my ex's attic capturing special moments of our little
ones. Each year I vow to get them transferred onto DVDs. Today's
moms preserve the moment within FaceBook and Twitter accounts along
with pictures in their iPhone camera roll and iPhoto libraries.
Some even set up dedicated blogs.
No matter how cloudy the memory becomes as we get older, the
memory of some firsts never lose their clarity no matter how many
years fly by. How many mothers can still perfectly recount every
detail of the first time their child threw up? I am not referring
to a bit of baby spit that was whisked away with a burp cloth. I'm
talking about the first time junior was really ill, snuggled in mom
and dad's bed so he could be comforted through his malaise.
Without warning, he gets a scary look on his face and in a split
second you know what is about to happen. It is at that same moment
you realize the child has not yet developed the instinct to run to
the bathroom while holding back the bile. Nope, all they know is
something needs to get out and out it comes. How many of us have
that vivid memory of stripping the sheets and blankets at 2 a.m.
and running with them to the laundry room, holding our breath and
fighting our own gag reflex.
SICKNESS AND HEALTH
As a mom, there is nothing worse than seeing your child sick. I
remember nights sitting on the floor in a bathroom full of steam
trying to deal with croup. There were fevers and ear infections and
a bout of chicken pox. In the times your child takes ill, the rest
of the world gets put on hold. A mom will sit with her child for
hours on end, waiting for the fever to break or simply watching
them sleep, so they won't be alone when they wake up.
Instincts come natural to a mom and when one kicks in, there is
no stopping it. I vividly recall sitting at my desk at the Summit
Lodge and getting a call from my daughter who was living in
Northern Virginia. Having been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease,
hospital visits were not uncommon. But for some reason I knew this
time was different. Without thinking, I packed a bag and got in my
car. When I got to the bottom of the Access Road, I had to decide
to turn right or left. I still wasn't sure if I was going to an
airport or heading to Interstate 95.
My instinct told me to turn right and two hours later I was at
the Manchester, NH airport. I went from counter to counter
explaining that I needed to get to Washington, DC. To this day I am
loyal to Southwest Airlines for their reaction. They offered me a
discounted fare with an open return. When I arrived to the
hospital, Vicki had not only been admitted but was just scheduled
for surgery. I spent the next five nights sleeping in a chair next
to her hospital bed.
They often come about unexpectedly, but they leave an indelible
imprint. School awards, graduations, first jobs and any number of
personal accomplishments make a mother's heart swell. But my
proudest moments with both my girls have always been seeing their
acts of kindness to others.
I watched them serve food in soup kitchens and bring presents to
children in shelters. They always embraced the fact that they had a
comfortable life and the means to bring happiness to those less
These happen over a period of time and are bittersweet. It's the
time when you look at your toddler and realize they are no longer a
baby. They have developed a personality all their own, though you
recognize traits from both yourself and their dad. And then
you turn around and they have turned into a teenager. Their
physical traits change dramatically, but not as much as their
emotional traits. We cringe as they test the boundaries and we hope
that we have taught them well enough to make smart decisions.
But the most heartwarming transition is when you realize they
have become your friend as well as your child. We recently
celebrated my daughter's 32nd birthday. Some high school friends
joined us, and I listened as they relayed their stories of
mischief, of which I was unaware. I tried to explain that I could
still ground them, but they weren't buying it. It was a happy
celebration with lots of laughs and love. My little girls had grown
into my best friends, my confidantes, my heroines and my role
Celebrate this Sunday with your mom. Do something special. Ask her
what she really wants for a gift (I told my girls two months ago:
Chi flat iron). Spend time with her. Reminisce. Tell her all the
things you learned from her that made you the person you are today.
Thank her. Hug her. Tell her you love her. And when the moment is
just right, just start repeating, "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mum, mum,
mum…." She'll get it.