Virginia Alice, author of "HONOR ONE ANOTHER: The ABCs of Embracing Our Spirit Within," writes about fitness, marriage, values, and writing.
The Bonds of Motherhood
From an early age, I understood having a baby was a miracle. And once I went through nine months of pregnancy and labor, I had a new respect for my momma – and for all mothers who give birth or mother any child into adulthood. Through my experience helping my momma with my younger siblings, I also realized motherhood is not easy.
In the Early Years
At her young age of fifteen, my momma didn’t have a lot of experience raising children. So, being her first child, she cared for me as if I were her doll, hoping she was being a good mother. Early on, I learned from her things which explained why I didn’t often feel a good mother-daughter connection.
Being she was so young, she says, the doctor put her under when she went into labor with me. She explained how my daddy did most of my infant care. He had a son from his first marriage; and when she gave birth to me, he was in heaven. Momma says he rocked me, changed me, even washed my dirty cloth diapers so she wouldn’t have to, only giving me to her when it was time to nurse.
Memories of Momma
As I grew, some of my earliest memories of my momma are of her reading to me and my siblings. I loved hearing her voice, and it often lulled us to sleep at naptime. She would sing to us, too, and teach us simple chores when we’d ask.
Despite little to no income, Momma always wanted the best for her children. Growing up in a farming family, she was raised with a strong work ethic. When times were tough, she sold baked goods, worked in the watermelon packing sheds, and even alternated twelve-hour shifts at a gasoline station to help make ends meet.
Momma always had a way of smiling and laughing with others despite tough times at home.
Becoming a Mother
Once I married, and hubs and I moved out of state, Momma and I fervently wrote letters back and forth, ironing out misunderstandings from over our years growing up. I learned a lot about many of the decisions she made along her way, the love she always had for us kids – even when we were rebellious and rude, and how her own life growing up affected how she mothered or, maybe, didn’t mother us.
While out of state, I became a mother making all the difference in how I viewed my experience as a daughter. Seeing my momma with the new eyes of motherhood allowed me the ability to understand so much I hadn’t understood before.
Prayers For a Child
By the time I married and wanted a child, I wasn’t sure it would happen. I had difficult monthly cycles, and, at certain times, one might think I was pregnant, except I wasn’t. Hubs and I eventually saw a fertility expert who discovered I had large cysts on my ovaries. With medication, the cysts dissolved, and I was able to get pregnant.
Amazingly, my pregnancy progressed well. I prayed day and night not to miscarry. I made all kinds of promises to God for a healthy child, as I believed this was my only chance to conceive. I prayed for either a girl or a boy but believed I’d be happiest with a son. Still working through my relationship with my momma at the time, I didn’t think having a daughter was best.
Through my first four months of pregnancy, there was the usual morning sickness. As that receded, a random loss of feeling in my legs took over. As I progressed into months six, seven, and eight, I felt a tightening in my belly and a dull pain or ache whenever I walked for short or long distances. As I got closer to my due date, and the pain increased, I felt it wasn’t normal. But it’d be months after our son was born before we’d learn what caused it.
My Miracle Child
My labor started early on a Wednesday morning. After nineteen and a half hours, I gave birth to a healthy miracle of a bouncing, screaming baby boy. I couldn’t have been more amazed or proud of my body for conceiving, housing, and birthing such a miraculous being.
Once he was weaned from nursing at six months, I started experiencing the same symptoms I had prior to pregnancy. Five months later, my doctor ordered a laparotomy after which he recommended a hysterectomy. Because we wanted more children, we opted to wait. Sadly, nine months later, I had to have a complete hysterectomy.
Our miracle child has been our pride and joy. He was a happy baby – independent, creative, and a deep thinker. As he grew and learned how to make friends and get along with others, he showed an interest in art, math, and the banjo. From the time he was born, we were a pair. We’d eat out, go to the movies, and roam the malls together. We played board games and cards. And we’d make a big deal of putting up and decorating our Christmas tree including hot chocolate and Christmas music.
As he got older, he would charm me the way his dad could. Although I could put my foot down, I worried saying no to things would cause him to run away from home. Years later, when I told him this, he said, Oh, mah, I wouldn’t do that, I knew where my bread and butter was. And a few years later, when he said, Mah, you don’t hover like some parents, you know when to zoom in and out whenever needed, I laughed. I had worried about being too hands on or not enough. But I was just right.
Life Continues On
Today, our son is the wonderful father of two children. Both are as kind as he is, hard workers with good grades, and a ready smile.
When I look back, I can see where I could’ve been a better mother. And yet, I can also see where being a good mother to him was doing like my own mother did for me. Reading books together. Taking turns watching each other’s favorite movies. Cooking together. Walking the neighborhood trails. And letting my miracle child, a lover of water, teach me to swim.
My momma always told me adults should let little ones help and do what they believe they can. In following her advice, my miracle child outgrew me in many ways. As I watch him father his own children now, I can see where he – perhaps unknowingly – is passing on this same philosophy to his little ones.
I learned so much by being a daughter to a very young mother. I definitely wouldn’t be the same person I am today, or the mother to my son I’ve been so far, without that experience. And I may not have taken time to mother and mentor other children, or youth, along the way either.
Sometimes, embracing the bonds of motherhood means being open to what we can learn from our experiences and passing on that wisdom. I’ll never bear another child, but it doesn’t mean I can’t love those who need or want a caring mother in their lives – today.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Virginia Alice Crawford