I thought, at first, I had become a “different person” when that second pink line appeared. I remember, shockingly, when it did (only two weeks after our wedding–honeymoon baby, anyone?) that I looked up into the mirror, my face white and my eyes like giant saucers. I was carrying another life inside of me.
While physically things began to change, I didn’t change. Not until that moment. 11:09 pm. They laid her in my arms. And my life was never the same.
She was screaming–who can blame her? I pulled her in to me, and I cried. The entire room, everyone, everything disappeared. All that existed was she and I, together. Scared, in pain, and new people.
“I promise to always be a good mother to you.” I spoke aloud. “I promise to try to always be the best to you. I know I’ll fail sometimes, but I never want you to go to bed feeling unloved. I promise, Elizabeth, to always love you. I want to be such a good mother to you, okay? And I am going to try so hard. Because you deserve the best. You are beautiful. Never forget that.”
I was sobbing.
Because I was a mother to an innocent person. To a person.
That was the most beautiful moment of my life. The most changing.
I hope I have made good on my word in the nearly two years that I have been a mother to her. I hope that she is a better person because of me. That I have improved her, helped her, aided her physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Because I live constantly with the fear that I am not.
That fear follows me in every action I do, in every word I speak, in every choice I make regarding her well-being. Regarding her. I hear the voice in my head, sometimes, telling me I’m not good enough, not trying hard enough. But, ultimately I know that, when my actions, words, choices are fueled by that love that was ignited in the delivery room that night, I’m doing alright.
When Richard deployed, that fear became stronger, more defined. I knew my patience was going to be tried to it’s breaking point, that I was going to be the only parent she had for a year. I am responsible for providing all aspects of parenthood to her, something normally two parents do. If I run out of patience, there is no back-up, there is no one to tag team it. I do it alone. Constantly.
God, I hope I do it well.
She deserves the best. The best love, the best comfort, the best hugs and kisses. When I watch Richard parent her when he’s home, I am left speechless by the caliber of the father he is. So loving, so gentle. It has brought me to tears. He never hesitates to get on the floor and play with her, even when he’s getting ready for work and already wearing his uniform. He has no problem climbing on a rocking chair to hold her steady. He is the finest, most humble father.
And, to a certain extent, I have to make sure she gets that while he’s gone, too.
I don’t know if I am doing a good job. Only time will tell. I pray at the start of each day that I am a good mother, and at the end of some days I am left counting the ways I could have been a better mother.
Elizabeth, I love you more than words could say. I have been completely responsible for providing all comfort, love, joy, strength, and constancy to you for the last several months. Many times, you’ve melted into tears, crying for Daddy. Many times, you’ve gotten frustrated after skype calls, because you just don’t understand. Many times, you are angry because you miss your Daddy and can’t communicate it.
I expected all of this.
I expected the tears, the frustration, the anger. I knew that those times would surface. That I would have to drop everything and just hold you. Provide comfort. Give love. Offer strength. Be a good mother to you.
I never foresaw what I’d get. When I hold you, I feel comforted. When I love you, I feel loved. When I give strength, I get some back. You make me a good mother. I never expected that.
As much as it scares you, Tiny Girl, to be separated from me, it scares me as much to be separated from you. We are, truly, Battle Buddies. We are inseparable. When people joke about taking you away to live with them, my heart stops in fear.
No. I need her.
I still look into your eyes everyday, and get that breathless fear I had the day they laid you in my arms. But I try to prove it wrong. Because you deserve the best; you are beautiful. When I give love to you, when I make you feel whole, you do the same to me. I am creating a beautiful person, still. And you, in the same way, are creating a beautiful mother.