Today is my mother's birthday.
I find myself really thinking about this day more now than I ever have in the past. About my mother, yes, but also about the woman who brought her into the world. Not the grandma from my childhood, but the young woman in the black and white photo on my mom's vanity with the color hand-painted on. The beautiful woman with the pregnant glow, whose baby belly was not in the picture because that just wasn't done in those days.
And I wonder what she thought and felt. An English teacher married to another teacher seven years her senior. Who, together, longed and waited for a baby for five years. This young woman who, at thirty-nine, was considered old to be pregnant. Whose family did not believe her when she first told them the news. Was she purely excited or did she feel any apprehension? Did she feel supported or did she feel some judgement?
And when she went in to have her baby that day in May, was she scared? Knowing that her petite frame could not handle delivering a full-term baby, did she worry about the possibilities or was she blissfully unaware, only focusing on meeting her new joy?
I see her, that woman from the photo, crying happy tears and laughing while she held her baby. Smelling her daughter's sweet newborn smell. And my grandpa, bringing in a handful of the last lilacs. A first gift to motherhood.
I don't know if I wonder these things because I now have children of my own, or if it's because I'm getting older. But I wish I could ask her. I wish I could hear the story of my mom's birth from my grandmother herself. I wish she could tell me what she thought and felt. Her hopes and dreams for her miracle baby.
Although I may never know these things, I know some of her feelings. I know the emotions that overwhelmed her as she fell in love with her daughter. And the love that grew and changed as her baby did too.
And I know that those hopes and dreams came true. Because I know the beautiful person my mother became. The beautiful mother she is for me. The beautiful grandmother she is to my girls.
Happy Birthday, Mom.