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Sunday, May 6, 2012


Wishing everyone mother a “Happy Mother’s Day!” As a mother of two grown sons, I have received some pretty thunderous gifts—in the form of handpainted things or their handprints in plaster of Paris when they were in pre-school and I treasure those the most. No, these weren’t the showy gifts but ones that I can hold and I am instantly taken back to the time they were given to me. Every mother remembers those times for it seemed that they were long and endless. But were they? No they zoomed by like a lightning bolt. Seems as if just the other day I was whining to my mom about fingerprints on everything and she said that it wouldn’t be long that those would be gone. Boy was she right.

I survived thirteen months of colic with my first son and must have walked ten thousand miles in the living room of our other house. Had no idea how to handle the situation but the pediatrician and my mother and in laws helped me through it. What was sleep? Neither my son nor I knew throughout that time or so it seemed. When he was one year old, I thought he would be walking. Wrong! He did walk about a month after that and learned to run it seems at the same time. Things were never the same. All thoughout that time, thank heavens for pacifiers or I would have lost my mind. My then-husband and I must have bought two hundred of those things: They were stashed everywhere in the house and in the car for emergency’s sake.

When my son was two and a half years old and into everything, I gave birth to another son. My mom had stayed a week with me the first time but this time, she only stayed three days. Don’t think her nerves could take it and am not sure how mine did but they did. It was a matter of survival for all of us. My second son did not have colic; he had projectile vomiting which went on for nine months straight. I wasn’t sure he was ever going to keep any formula down or food but by some miracle, he did. Cotton diapers were my lifesaver then for I had one on my shoulder at all times in case he had to throw up and boy did he. Dr.Spock’s book on child rearing became my everyday reading and the phone was my second source of help.

I learned quickly that with two sons under the age of three, I could have had twenty and it would have been the same. What one didn’t do, the other did. If one was asleep, the other son was awake. One day I had just gotten my younger son asleep in his crib, when I heard my older son downstairs saying “Painting. Painting.” I ran down the steps and found him standing on the brand new couch with both of his hands swirling around on an oil painting I had just finished. The oil wasn’t dry and both of his hands were covered in every color you could imagine. “Stop!” I screamed. But it was too late for he scrambled off the couch leaving oil handprints all over it.To this day, I’m not sure how I got the oil paint off of that couch but it did happen.

Then within a week of that, my younger son was asleep and my older son was playing in the bathroom while I was trying to take a ten second shower. I called out his name and looked and he was gone! It was then that I heard him saying “Shaving!” Grabbed a huge towel and ran into my younger son’s room to find his face covered in shaving cream and my older son was holding his dad’s razor! Fear almost got the best of me but I grabbed that razor, took a clean cloth diaper and wiped off my younger son’s face. Too close of a call for me. Oh these incidents went on for what seemed like years upon years—the doings of those two.

I survived a thousand trips to the emergency room for a cut in the older’s one’s forehead [when he learned to run he ran into an end table] and big wheel wrecks followed by midget league football injuries on both parts. Heck the nurses knew my sons’ names as well as mine and my husband—that’s not a good sign at all. And so it went with a house full of boys running here and there for during the summers I wasn’t teaching and this was the house to be. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Kool Aid by the gallons were fixed and devoured by a pack of starving boys. And I loved every minute of that part.

Then came junior high for them and the phone ringing off the hook by unknown and known girls wanting to know if they were home. Proms, friendships, house full of boys and girls now replaced all boys. Their voices changed,they got taller and were no longer little boys—it was happening too fast for me. The best thing was that since they  were little, we had belonged to a private swimming pool. Had we not, I’m not sure that my sanity would have survived for it was a lifesaver—we had no air conditioning at that time and at least we could get cool there before coming home to swelter.

Before I knew it, both were in high school but two years apart grade wise. Oh how I longed for the past when they were complacent to just play out in the yard for now one had gotten his driver’s license and was driving my car. It seemed unreal. And then both were driving and it was my car that got the blunt of their wrecks and mistakes. When my younger son was in the eleventh grade, my car died. It died right in front of my school where I taught: I saw him drive to the corner and saw the smoke pouring out of the exhaust. Gone. And time to get another car and then another and another.

Girls hounded both of them; that was normal. Serious love affairs and oh the flowers I bought for these girls as well as corsages for proms and other dances. My older son and his friend took my car one weekend to visit a college; I prayed all weekend that they would  survive the trip. And they did. Before I knew it, my older son was in college and my younger son was finishing high school. One graduation down and one to go but it seemed like it had just been me graduating. That’s how fast time seemed to go. Then my younger son was off to college and I found myself experiencing what every mother goes through—the horrible “empty nest” feeling. I’d go by their empty bedrooms and cry my eyes out. Did they ever know this? No, because I never told them. But I can’t help but think that they somehow knew.

My younger son got married and had three children who became the loves of my life. My older son married about six years ago and has no children. This house is so empty and so quiet now—something I never thought would ever happen. But it did and it was in the wink of an eye. I find myself wishing I could turn back the hands of time to when they were little; am sure that most parents feel that way for it was the best of times with both of them. But that’s not possible for growing up is inevitable. Happens whether we want it to or not. When I pick up the phone, I can still hear one of them saying “I’m on the phone!” Well they’re not anymore but it is so engrained it me that I won’t ever forget those words.

No matter how old they get, they will always be my “babies” to me. Remember my grandmother saying that to me and I was clueless as to what she meant. I know now. Like any mother, I can only hope that I did the right thing at the right time—I’m sure I messed up more than once but just hope that they were guided in the right direction. I’m pretty sure that both of them are. A former minister at my church once told me [he was the father of five sons]: “You can instill your morals and values into your sons but when they turn eighteen, you will have no control over them.” What words of wisdom for he was so right. And isn’t that the goal of every parent and especially a mother to hope that they remember those morals and values? Oh sure they got mistrued along the way and it wasn’t a fairy tale but they both turned  out to be wonderful caring men.

This “Mother’s Day” all I want to hear is “Hi mom.” No thunderous gifts are needed and if I don’t hear thank yous, I will know that they mean it for they never miss that special day. All the memories of what both did are forever etched in my mind and I am glad that I became the mother of two sons. Not only did I survive but so did they. And isn’t that the greatest gift of all? We made it. And I hope that you who are reading this, feel the same way for despite the ups and downs, you never stop being a mother ever. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

Sherry Hill

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