Mother of the Year

Mother of the Year

I come from a long line of mothers. BA DUM TSS! But seriously folks, Mother’s Day is a celebrated full throttle festival of homage to those we call MOM. It’s also a day that brings mixed emotions for many- some long to be mothers, some have never met their mother, some no longer have their mothers with them, some wish they didn’t know their mothers, and the scenarios of mother mayhem go on and on.

My sister and I are fortunate to still have our fantastically fun and wildly amazing Mom still on this earth with us- Happy Mother’s Day Mom! You’re the best! And I mean it- this is not your garden variety Hallmark card tribute. I love you, I appreciate you, and thank you for bringing me into this world.

Now legions of us believe the same said statement about their own dear mudders as I expressed about Phylis Greene. And most of our children would echo this for the halls of history with carefully crafted homemade cards and tributes about us. Come on, let’s face it, who hasn’t looked in the mirror at some point in life and then at their brood and thought, “I deserve a medal, I am the stinking Mother of the Year for goodness sake!” And then equally on those off days when the household drama has been at a premium, and those that know us and love us best have already run for the hills, we have with sarcasm and a bedraggled sight glanced upon ourselves and whispered, “ Well, aren’t I the Mother of the Year?!”

I know mountains of beautiful mothers. I have met them in the eyes of my mother, my mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-laws, daughter -in-loves, dear friends, neighbors, and throughout the journey of life. And each of them have a story. All of them have had their unique struggles. And on any given year I could roll out the podium and place each one of them in the middle, on the highest pedestal. Hand over a bouquet of roses and a crown and commemorate their magical feats they have juggled and performed as their role of Mother. I could list my own accolades, mother of nine, grandmother to five, 17 moves…but I won’t. And I don’t want to take away from anyone else’s accomplishments, but because sometimes the world just needs to hear about a stellar mother- the good stuff, the heroic stories. I want to tell you about one such mother I met this year.

In her 19th year, she learned the news she would carry a sweet baby. She made the courageous decisions to become a single mother, leave her job as a military police officer that was her launching point for her overall career goal of detective, and moved over 1,100 miles back home to give her baby the opportunity for the best medical care in the country. She faced the devastating diagnosis of carrying a baby in the womb who was predicted to not walk amongst us. And she believed, and she hoped, and she prayed, and she pressed on. In the hospital for seven weeks, she ate healthy, she walked, she played the ukulele, she embraced visits from friends and family, she constructed puzzles, and played games. She asked how everyone else was doing, and inquired about their burdens and troubles. She resisted the urge to judge the multitude of women who joined her floor addicted to drugs. Many playing the system, a few who wanted to truly get clean and throw their hat in the ring for their own chance at motherdom. All she wanted was a healthy baby but she pushed out the judgement and offered smiles and her food instead, knowing everyone has their struggles. And when pallative care came to help her accept the worse, she whispered and then chanted, “ Cyrus the Brave, Cyrus the Brave…’

On September 11th, everyone cried tears of joy as the sound of the warrior baby’s cry was heard throughout the operating room. His Pop Pop proclaimed, “ He is perfect!” And he was and he is. He crashed and doctors worked on him for over three hours as chest tubes and oscillators became the words of the day. And his mother, wheeled beside him to his bedside and brought out a book, On the Night You Were Born, and declared she was there and was not leaving his side. And there she stayed for over six weeks. Reading, singing, rocking when he could finally be held, loving, cherishing, believing and advocating. Hours have turned into days that have turned into months of round the clock catheterizations, feeding tubes exchanged for g tubes, and constant care. And she reads, she plays, she sings, she dances, she plays peek a boo, she loves and she smiles all for him.

It’s an interesting phenomenon when you consider yourself a pretty good mother and then you watch and you see and you grow and you learn from your own child who is now a mother. And you are overwhelmed with admiration as you observe the sacrifice, the fortitude, the patience, the strength of your child- the mother. Another Momma Bear joining the tribe.

So this year, join me with applauds. Do you hear the trumpets resounding and the band striking up the beat, the crowd clapping and the winds proclaiming the declaration?

Phoebe the Beautiful, Mother of the Year.

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The Meaning of Love and a Baby Warrior Named Cyrus the Brave

I won’t pretend to say I have a complete understanding of the true definition of the word love and its meaning. Sure, I have had many experiences in my almost 52 years of living that I have defined as love. Growing up and “feeling the love” of a good family, accepting and receiving the love of my Savior, participating in authentic friendships, marrying my ‘soul mate”, becoming a mother nine times, and a grandmother now five- all manifestations of love that have been joyous and deep. And while those categories of love have been positive, I know I have felt what I would describe as love in the negative. Those dark, deep moments in the crevices – the cracks on the journey. The neverlife of my unborn children who died in my womb, the passing on of treasured friends and relatives, the gut punch heartache of my dad’s death, the shock and toll of illnesses and accidents, misfires and begin agains, all devastating yet beautiful and tender.

Comprehending love alludes me in many ways but just when I thought I could not grasp endearments in my life any richer nor any more crushing, along came a tiny babe named Cyrus. And his magnificent existence has taught me to walk a balance beam labeled love and grief with every step. With each movement as my hips aid in rotating my leg to place my foot gently in front of the other, I strive to strike the perfect balance. We move forward each day. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot- don’t look down-right foot- don’t look to the side- left foot, right foot, straight ahead.

Eight months old today and he lives up to every inch of his moniker, “Cyrus the Brave” – I cherish him. He is a warrior like his Momma, Phoebe. He is defying all the odds. We were told to expect and prepare for the very worse, life without him. Cyrus was delivered by cesarean section at 37 weeks and four days. In utero, our family was given his diagnosis of B.O.O. (Bladder Outlet Obstruction) at 26 weeks. Life living in the hospital began for Phoebe at 30 weeks until his entry into our world. And home became the NICU for his first six weeks and three days ( but who’s counting?) that began the days of ventilators, breathing tubes, chest tubes, surgeries, two steps forward and one step back, and yet he pressed on. Often as I rocked him, I envisioned him on a beautiful golden Palomino or a brown and white Pinto, sitting tall and erect, bow and arrow in hand, storming the machines and diagnosis. And no, I am not completely crazy. I recognize that is quite an outlandish image, a baby warrior- but warrior he stands. Okay, he sits, but he will stand!

And so we live each day watching him grow, appreciating all of the moments with a presence where we are mesmerized by everything he does. We take nothing for granted and celebrate each accomplishment, every milestone, with cheers and marching parades around the house. All of us know there are no guarantees in life, no absolutes of first and last breath, but most of us find a way to trick our minds into not dwelling on the uncertainties. This balance beam my family is walking is because we know Cyrus has kidney disease and bladder issues and small but healthy lungs, yet he defies. We are not so naive as to discount different days await him, await us all. Though all it takes is one look into his clear blue eyes and catching his contagious smile and I literally shake the ominous prognosis from my thoughts and CHOOSE to be present in the moment given. So it is the balance beam we walk- ever so grateful for his miraculous days, playing hide and seek from the medical jargon, falling hard into a love, so precious. And while I have more to share about the days we have walked and the catapult that will vault us into the land of the predicted, yet unknown- I know this one truth.

Today, in this beloved moment as I write- there is a little grandson of mine named Cyrus, and he is fondly my “little puppy” and I am his “Mamie Bird”.IMG_8643