I confess, Mom; I didn't know what I was doing when born. I do know —only because you told me later — that it was a difficult birth. Something about a big dinner the evening before, then contractions and labor that lasted twenty-four hours, and vomiting until the only thing left in your stomach was bitter black bile, and still I wanted to stay inside. I really had no idea the punishment I put you through, and for that I am deeply, truly sorry. If that was the only pain I ever inflicted on you it might not be so bad, but I did it again and again. Having children is hard! We are always so darn needy. Fortunately, you were up to the task.
I don't remember those early years. We lived on a small farm you said. I played outside and chased bumblebees and butterflies. We moved to a house in the city eventually, and I vaguely recollect this new home. Nothing solid, just fragments of memories from a hyperactive three-year old.
You told me I wandered off one day, and you and Dad couldn't find me. Abject terror set in, but at some point I turned back up, and you only knew where I'd been because you found one of my shoes a block away. I'd somehow gotten out the front door and started walking, as it was the most normal thing in the world for a toddler to do.
And — again — for that I am deeply, truly sorry. I confess; at the time, I had no guilt at all about scaring you to death. In hindsight, I sounded like a huge pain in the butt. But I was your first child. You'd never had younger siblings yourself; you really didn't know what you were doing. How do I raise a human being? It was trial by fire. Motherhood by way of learning on the job. Throw you into the deep end and learn how to parent.
Now, I do remember when my brother was brought home from the hospital. You'd been big and fat long before that, but returned home after a few days looking like your normal self. And bearing a gift! A baby brother. Apparently, I gave him a kiss and tugged his earlobe. You've told me that I had a thing for earlobes. Again, I don't recall, but I'll take your word for it.
Furthermore, you birthed him a day before my birthday! As if he was a present just for me. I still don't know how you planned that so accurately.
And I loved having a baby brother! No confession there. No secret animosity or hidden jealousy. He was a living, breathing playmate, although kind of boring at first. Slept too much. But when he was finally responsive enough to walk and talk and babble and laugh, I knew he was a keeper. And he wasn't my only sibling. Three years later you got fat again, and we knew what meant, but there was a twist this time: little sister.
You spaced her birthday well away from ours. Good job. I actually loved having my brother's birthday near mine. As we grew older, I would purchase birthday gifts for him that I wanted for myself. We were close enough in age and interests that the overlap made it easy. Additionally, our birthdays and Christmas were close too, so Decembers were a particularly fun time.
So, our family was growing. We moved again to a bigger house in another city, and the final child arrived while living there; my second sister. Everything you learned from raising me — your first kid— you used to raise the others. You learned from your mistakes and course corrected when necessary.
Eventually all of us kids grew up. Some had their own children, some didn't (I didn't), but that's okay. We all had our trials and troubles, some worse than others, good days and bad days. But you, mom, you were always there for each and every one of us. You were a shoulder to cry on; a helping hand; a word of encouragement when we were at our lowest. I admit, sometimes I didn't appreciate you as much as I should have. Sometimes — in the most embarrassingly selfish ways — I accidentally hurt your feelings, but you still kept loving me. The depth and breadth of your love and patience has no boundary, something I can appreciate even more the older I've gotten.
I confess, Mom — and this is the big one — I wouldn't be the person I am today if not for you. I don't even think I would have lived this long if not for you. You were and still are a bedrock of compassion and support. I haven't told you that before, but I'm saying it now, loud and clear. You are my only mother, and deeply loved back, appreciated and celebrated. You are a gift to the world, not just your family, and that's one confession worth repeating.
About the author
I am a writer, artist and poet from North Carolina. I recently self published a children's/YA book called Harold and the Dreadful Dreams. You can learn more about it at my blog https://jmhauser.com, as well as other projects.