The Best Blessings

By Diane Stark

The Best Blessings

“OK, Diane, you’re doing well,” my obstetrician said, snapping off her rubber gloves. “You’re dilated to eight centimeters, so it shouldn’t be much longer.”

As a first-time mom, I didn’t know that “not much longer” meant another seven hours. But on that day, I was clueless about more than just the birth process.

My husband sat on one side of me, holding my hand and reminding me to breathe. My mom was on my other side, crying quietly into her hands.

“It’s all right, Mom,” I assured her. “It doesn’t hurt that bad.”

“Yes, it does,” she murmured. Her eyes looked vacant, almost hopeless, and it scared me. I wondered if she knew something that I didn’t.

Hours later, when my son was born, not breathing and with the cord around his neck, I forgot about Mom’s tears and focused on my newborn son. His initial Apgar score was one, and I was terrified we’d lose him.

But Jordan rallied, and we were able to take him home within the week. It was exciting and scary, and incredibly busy, and Mom’s odd behavior at the hospital was forgotten.

But days later, she called me, nearly hysterical. She told me that my dad had had an affair, and now he was moving out. They’d been married for almost 30 years.

“I didn’t want to tell you now, when you should be so happy, but I couldn’t help it. I need you, Honey,” she said, sobbing.

Over the next few months, the sound of Mom’s tears became as familiar to me as those of my newborn son. Because she lived far away, we spent hours each day on the phone, her talking and crying, me just listening and doing the little I could to offer comfort. I sent hang-in-there cards and pick-me-up flowers and tons of pictures of her first grandbaby.

It wasn’t much, but it was all I could do. And I felt it was the least I could do for her after all she’d done for me. But still, it was sometimes scary to realize that Mom and I had completely reversed roles. After a lifetime of counting on Mom to be there for me, I had become the caretaker, she was more the child. It was frightening, but it was our reality for a season.

A few years later, Mom remarried, and my sister and I were her matrons-of-honor. Mom’s new husband was a wonderful man, and I was happy for her.

Things were finally back to normal.

And then my own marriage fell apart. By then, I’d had a second child and had two young kids to take care of at a time when I could barely care for myself.

But Mom stepped in. She was there in ways that only a mother could be. She provided an emotional strength neither of us knew she had. She took care of my kids when I couldn’t. She was just there, and she did what had to be done.

Sometimes it felt good to be taken care of, to just let her do her thing. But after a while, I realized that her thing should have been my thing. It was fine to let her be my mom, but she was also being a mom to my kids – and that was my job. I pulled it together because I had to. My kids needed me.

But I still needed Mom.

One day, I was feeling particularly emotional, and I tearfully thanked Mom for carrying me for the last few months.

She smiled and shrugged. “You did it for me, Honey.”

I smiled back. “Yeah, I guess I did. We’ve always been there for one another.” It was something I was infinitely grateful for, but at the same time, I didn’t like feeling so dependent.

A year later, I was back on my feet. I had a job I loved, and I’d met Eric, the man I would eventually marry. My life was definitely on the upswing.

My relationship with my mom has evolved over the years. Throughout my childhood, she held my hand and wiped my tears. And for a time, I did those things for her. I then experienced a second childhood, where I needed Mom more than ever before. And she didn’t let me down.

We’ve always been mother and daughter, but through the years, we’ve changed roles depending on the circumstances. One of us has stepped up when the other was hurting and in need. We were there for one another during the worst times of our lives, and now we’re enjoying the good times together. Presently, what I need most from my mom is her friendship.

Life goes in cycles. Sometimes we feel strong, and we’re able to lift up a friend or a loved one. At other times, we’re the one who needs the support.

Those ups and downs are just part of the roller coaster we call Life.

But having people who love you enough to ride the coaster with you is the best blessing of all.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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