My Mom, Regina Wallace, was the same age as I am now when she became a mother. It’s hard for me to imagine her as anything but a mother, but now that I am expecting a child of my own, I find myself wondering what she was like before my oldest sister, and eventually two more children, became her full-time job.
Did she have hobbies? Did she go out with her friends on the weekends? Did she spend her money on trendy clothes? What did she daydream about in the morning’s silent moments? Did she want to go back to school, or move to a new place or learn a new trade?
Once we came along, none of that seemed to matter to her. All of those things were replaced with dance classes, softball practices and dreams of our futures. I don’t remember my mother doing anything that wasn’t with or for my sisters and me.
The first time I felt my baby kick, I thought about her. Somehow, I had never really considered the fact that my mother had carried me in her body. She spent nine months wondering who I would be. She went through difficult changes, experienced the pain of labor and rocked me through sleepless nights for weeks after. I wondered if, during her pregnancy, she tossed and turned, anxious about the little life that she was responsible for.
When we were children and she was breaking up screaming matches, or dragging us all to the mall for Easter dresses or telling us to clean our room for the tenth time, all after working a 40-hour week, she wasn’t just raising children, she was raising strong women—and future mothers. In her mind, I think she was just getting through the day.
Now that I’m an adult, I know her as more than Mom. She loves the beach, a medium-rare steak and a good laugh. Most of all, she loves us.
There have often been times in my life when I looked back on all the sacrifices my mother made with admiration, but also guilt. It wasn’t until I saw our tiny babe on the ultrasound screen that I realized that what my mother gave up for us, she did so gladly. She wanted nothing more than to be our chauffeur, our coach and our home. And I will never wonder if she is proud of me again, because I now understand that there is nothing I could do to make her love me less.
She is my mother, and I am her child, and it is as complicated and simple as that. So, happiest of Mother’s Days to my mother and friend. Thank you for all the tomato sandwiches, thrift store shopping days and especially for the love you have for my growing child. If he or she looks back on their childhood with the same fondness that I do, I will know I have succeeded and it was because of you.