The “Month of Me” project that I first told you about here is coming together mighty nicely! On October 5th, I will be toasting a happy birthday to my mother in New York City … here’s a little more on the that …
On this day 40 years ago, a young woman was seven days overdue to give birth to her first child. Due on September 15th, there was no doubt in her mind that this baby was conceived during her husband’s short break during army boot camp training. They had only been wed for just over a year, but they’d been high school sweethearts and were ready to start a family. If only this baby would make its entrance ….
I often wish I’d known this petite, feisty young woman. For she is certainly not the same woman that I know now as my mother. There is no way that this young woman, raised in a small town in Ontario, could now be the same person after having travelled the world; tucked undergraduate, master and doctoral degrees under her belt; and learned how to navigate not only a hospital but a boardroom. But I’d venture that giving birth had been the most transformative of her life experiences. This young woman couldn’t have known forty years ago that she would go on to birth four more children after her first, and that she would know not only the joyful relief of a baby being put into her arms but also the excruciating pain of grief.
The woman my mother is now, in many ways, is still as much of a mystery as the woman she was back then, with me comfortably curled in her womb. And she might say the same for me. We’ve never been similar, we’ve always had our own ways of doing things … ways that likely make no sense to each other.
And yet, as time goes on, our physical appearances become more and more similar. I look in the mirror, and I see her. It is a strange sensation. As I age, the woman in the reflection sometimes feels like a stranger to me; she bears so little resemblance to the young woman who used to look back at me. But the eyes – they are my mother’s eyes, and they comfort me. They tell me that it will all be okay; that aging, while it may have stripped me of former physical joys, will bring its own rewards.
I love and admire that young woman who birthed me, just as much as the one who now acts as my counsel and friend.
And I am growing to love this newly emerging woman in my mirror. The one with wrinkles and sunspots. With hair that’s gone thin, and a face that is starting to fall. Forty years is a long time to know someone, but life is long and I plan for this face to keep looking back at me for many years to come.
If I’m lucky, I’ll still be looking at this face when my own daughter turns 40. And Stella, who is now aged nine, will ping me off a note asking me to come with her to New York City to celebrate my birthday. That, I think, will be a very sweet moment.
And that is precisely the kind of sweet moment I hope my mother felt when I did the same to her. That’s right, my mother is going to fly into New York (which is might cool of her, don’t you think?) to join me on her birthday, which is so close to mine. Because a “Month of Me” just wouldn’t be the same without her.