My journey to motherhood wasn’t easy. I tried getting pregnant at age 35, after marrying at age 34. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to wait, but my then husband and I had agreed we would only try for a baby after (1) I was gainfully employed and (2), we had a place of our own.
It took us just under two years to get both done. Two miscarriages preceded my full pregnancy, so it was a roller coaster ride seeing it to fruition. When I finally made it past the first trimester, I did all I could to make sure this one made it through to delivery. I even refused an amniocentesis for fear that the pin prick puncture of the amniotic sac would lead to a miscarriage. And more importantly, we told our obstetrician even if we found out there was something wrong with our baby, we would still see it to full term.
Eighteen years ago today, I was induced to deliver and finally held my infant son in my arms after 15 minutes of active labor. After delivering a 9.5 lb., 21.5 inch baby, I became my obstetrician’s poster child for normal delivery. It wasn’t easy battling the gestational diabetes and all the other complications of a late pregnancy, but determination and prayers got me to the finish line with no issues.
The boy is now 18 years — a legal adult in some parts although New York pegs the age of majority as 21. He is a grown man now, almost a full head taller than me, with fingers longer by almost an inch when we hold our palms face to face.
He still calls out “I love you, Mum” from out of nowhere, and would sometimes knock at my door as I’m about to sleep and ask for a hug, bending down to rest his head on my chest. When I walk in the door at the end of the day, he calls out and asks if I need help, meeting me at the door of the stairs to carry my bags up the steps.
We’ve gotten into a somewhat funny dynamic of him calling me when he thinks I would be on the bus already, asking where I am at, and what time I will be home. I have kiddingly asked him if he’s my dad with the tone he takes..
There was one night I went out, and I found him dozing off in the living room when I came home at past 2am. I asked him why he didn’t go and sleep in his room, and he meekly said he was waiting for me.
While all is not perfect in our world— he is a teenager, after all — I’ve been lucky to have raised a caring and sensitive child who has respect for his elders. Sometimes I find him pushing the envelope, but when I push back, he knows better than to nudge again. More importantly, during those moments when he knows he was in the wrong or that he had offended me, he knows to say sorry and make things right.
Sometimes, I look at him when he’s deep into a game or as he strums his guitar, or as he eats the dinner I cooked with such gusto — and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in seeing this human being in front of me. And the love I feel is just beyond words.
My world has always revolved around him — so much so that I chose to stay here in the US instead of going back home when my marriage fell apart. When we were finally uncoupled, the world I rebuilt had him at the center of it all. And he still is. It’s just that he is entering into a new phase of his life— stepping out into the real world and pursuing his dreams. And that impending departure has me reevaluating things and the way I see the future.
I’m trying not to hold on to him too tightly to pull him back— because I know I cannot do that. So as much as that is a day I fear, I know I love him enough to let him go and conquer the world on his own. And while I would give anything to be right there with him every step of the way, I know that the best I can really do is just be here, ready to help when he calls out for me.
I have always told him no matter what he chooses, I will find a way to get him there. And yes, even if that means he ventures farther out and further away from me, I will even hold his hand to show him the way.
One of the moms whose reflections on Mother’s Day today resonated with me reminded us that a mother’s love knows no end— and time and again I have known that to be true. It may be the toughest job in the world, and for all the heartaches and obstacles that came my way, I would do it all over again to have this light in my life. Without skipping a heartbeat, I would say yes to going through it all, all over again.
This Mother’s Day was his birthday. And like I tell him, his coming into my life was the best Mother’s Day gift — ever.
On Facebook, I wrote:
“Happy birthday to my one and only forever love, who came into my world 18 years ago. I am blessed every single day with your love and presence in my life. I am always here for you and will just be here ready to support you every step of the way. Know that mama loves you always— even when you talk to me like you’re my Dad, asking me what time I’m going to be home(!).
And don’t forget our acceptance speech when the time comes for you to go up that stage— a reminder that at age 17, I told you never to underestimate your abilities and say you will probably not do anything great enough. You have already surprised us at this young age, what more when you go out there to conquer the world. Happy birthday, Anak. Love you more… always.. in all ways.”