A Mother’s Heart

By Kelly J. Stigliano

A Mother's Heart

I couldn’t imagine her as a mother. She didn’t babysit when she was a teenager. She’d lived alone since college. She was a city girl. Somewhat of a party girl, actually; a working woman living in South Beach, Florida, and enjoying everything the city had to offer.

When our daughter, Angelica, told us she had a new boyfriend, I smiled. “We’ve been down this road before,” I mused. “Nothing to get excited about.” However, when she said that this was the guy she intended to marry, she got my attention. “Well that’s new,” I exclaimed.

“He will propose to me within six months,” she predicted. I smiled when, six months later, she called to say that she was engaged to be married. “That girl knows what she wants,” I told Jerry, my husband.

We couldn’t imagine Angel living with anyone else. She liked to stay out late and sleep in late. Her priorities had been work, shoes, friends, her dog, clothes, the occasional meal and the beach. We knew her lifestyle didn’t leave much room for nurturing someone else. Further, her fiancé had never been married, and at 37, we felt sure that he too was set in his ways. We started praying for a successful marriage for them.

A beautiful sunrise wedding on South Beach, prayers from family, and these two career people united to form a life together.

Right on their schedule, they were expecting their first child by their first wedding anniversary. Jerry and I had a difficult time imagining them as parents. They lived a busy, self-interested life. They liked to go out at night with friends; they liked to sleep in; they coveted their quiet time; they just seemed an unlikely choice for parents. As our son-in-law looked for a new job, they began to talk about moving to Europe, and that made us nervous.

Within a few months, he’d accepted a position with a firm in Hungary. They decided Angel would have the baby in America. As she entered her third trimester, he moved, and Jerry and I brought her to our home in northern Florida.

We prepared the guest room for Angel and the baby. After a thorough cleaning, we rearranged and eliminated some furniture to free up space. Angel bought a fancy European baby cradle and put a changing table by the window.

Her focus was on preparing for this new little life. She read everything she could get her hands on. She prepared for a drug-free birth at a midwifery. She ate right. She interviewed pediatricians. She watched home births on YouTube. She watched TLC’s The Baby Story every day. When little Fiona was ready to be born, Angel was ready, too.

Labor began, and she notified her midwife and doula to get ready. She called her husband, who caught the next plane heading to Florida. When her pains were just minutes apart, we drove to the birthing center. Within four hours, tiny Fiona Elizabeth was born, and I was cutting the umbilical cord. She was healthy and perfect in every way. Four hours later, we were home and that evening the new daddy arrived. The new little family was together and bonding.

Were they ready to be parents? I saw much growth in Angel, but was she prepared to give up all things personal (like sleep) and live 100% for her newborn? Within a few days, our son-in-law returned to his job in Europe, and Angel was the primary decision-maker for their new little family.

Angel had not always handled tense moments well. When Jerry taught her to drive, he worried. “She panicked and just let go of the steering wheel,” he fretted. As a young adult, she totaled her car and became a city dweller. As her career advanced, she chose apartments in downtown Chattanooga, Knoxville, and South Beach, where she could walk, take public transportation and taxis to wherever she needed to go. Would she have the fortitude to be a good mommy?

When Fiona was one week old, I heard Angel yell from her bedroom, “Mom!” Her voice sounded shaky and panicked. I ran down the hall toward her room and met her as she was rushing out, holding the baby closely to her chest. Fiona looked fine; Angel looked terrified. Her eyes were huge, and her face was red.

I said, “What?” She couldn’t speak, but shook her head.

“A cockroach?” She shook her head, no.

“A spider?” She shook her head, no.

“Snake!” was all she could say as she rushed past me.

“No way!”

I slammed her bedroom door shut, and we came out into the living room. “I was changing the baby,” she said, calming down a bit now. “I felt something hit my shoulder and wondered what the heck it was. Then I saw something black move beside the changing table. It must’ve fallen from the curtain rod. Mom, it almost fell on the baby!”

I was furious. How dare you fall on my girls, I thought. I grabbed my husband’s Ping putter and Angel watched from the doorway, cradling Fiona safely in her arms, as I made that expensive golf club into the swiftest snake-killing machine ever seen!

All my fears subsided that day. Did Angel drop the baby and run? No. Did she run out and leave the baby on the changing table? No, she did not! She displayed a mother’s heart, clearer than I could have imagined. Now I knew I would have nothing to worry about as Angel and Fiona moved to Hungary in just a few short months. Fiona was in capable, loving hands.

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2 Responses to “A Mother’s Heart”

  1. Nothing like mother love, right?

  2. Erika Hoffman says:

    Well written. The end answers the question posed at the beginning: Whether your daughter had the ability to care for someone whose life depended on it. Nicely developed story—-

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