I finally started coming to terms with the realization that she wasn't gone on a convention with The Bonnie Belles (barbershop chorus/Sweet Adelines). I had graduated from high school. Most of my close friends went away to college and life as I knew it ceased to exist. I found new friends, worked part time, and went to Kankakee Community College full-time. I survived. I still didn't rebel. It would have been temporarily excusable if I had, but I chose to just be a regular teen ager. I rather enjoyed being known as the 'good kid.'
This brings me to another woman who has helped shape me and guide me; an extension of my mother. She is my sister Maureen. I was like a 10th birthday gift to her as my birth day was just hours after her golden birthday ended. She was there with me when my son was born. His father was there, too, but his weak stomach kept him from being useful in labor and delivery. Everything we learned in Lamaze was lost. Maureen was the surefire back up that I needed. She got nose to nose with me when I was on the verge of hyperventilation. Back labor on a gurney. A gurney I had basically been on all day due to the labor/delivery rooms being occupied. My little man was determined to come into this word facing the heavens. She stuck up for me when the nurse would gaze at the monitors and declare, "that's not a bad contraction." When, indeed, some were causing me to nearly blackout. She was right there when they told me "it's a boy!" Because of her mothering throughout my life, she almost feels she's a grandmother to my son. After that there was no doubt who would be Man-cub's God Mother.
Thirteen years later I catch myself sounding like my mother. I realize how much her patience was tested. I have one child and it's tested daily. Yet, no matter how it all comes around, at the end of the day I can lay my head to rest knowing I gave it my best. I kiss my son goodnight hoping he will never question that my love is unconditional. I say a little prayer that God will give me more time on this Earth than my mother had.
I have been fortunate to have many amazing mothers grace my life. I would be remiss to neglect to mention another incredible woman in my life. That is my sister Mary. She's given life to four children; raised 3. Her only son became ill and died at the wee age of 6. She has done an remarkable job in the face of adversity. I cannot fathom how, but she is an incredibly strong willed woman whom I admire greatly. She took me in when I felt lost shortly after our mom died. I needed guidance and safety. She supplied it until it became more feasible for me to reside with Maureen. She's always been a guiding force as, not only a sister, but a friend. I know how cliche' it is to say that, but this is undeniably true. Her daughters astound me with their accomplishments.
I hope everyone has been as blessed as I have been. Motherhood isn't an easy job, but it's one I knew I was destined for. The pay is lousy, the hours are long. The stress is insurmountable, but one thing is for certain: The rewards are priceless.
The book pictured is a must for all parents. Particularly mothers of sons. It doesn't matter how old my son gets I will carry this refrain with me: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."