Whenever I tell anyone about my family, their first reaction is always, “Wow, how did your mom do it?” When I ask her this question now, she says, “I just did. I just kept going.”
See, I’m one of four girls. And we’re all a year a part.
My mom started her family in her mid-30s, which wasn’t the norm for the early 80s. And it took her a couple of years to get pregnant. She suffered miscarriages, and thought she’d never get to be a mom. She said they explored adoption as well.
She got pregnant with me soon after, and I was born on January 1st. My sister Wendy came along just 13 months later, and my other two sisters, Laura and Jessica, the two years following that.
So now that I’m the mother of a 1-year-old boy, I reflect back on what that time period must have been like for my mom. My dad worked as an air traffic controller, one of the most stressful occupations possible. My mom was controlling her own airplanes at home, all day long.
My memories of growing up couldn’t have been more idyllic. We lived on a lake in Michigan in a small town, almost an acre of land, and got the best of both worlds. We ice skated in the winter and swam in the summertime. My mom planted a garden with fresh vegetables, and we even grew our own pumpkins in the fall.
We’d go fishing with my dad on the lake and then go get ice cream in town in the afternoons. On Sundays we’d go into the town and get donuts and chocolate milk. All four of us in tow. We just kept going.
As we got older, our family moved to Ohio for my dad’s job. Life just got even more hectic – we all were involved in sports and activities and my mom was a never-ending shuttle driver. My mom never told us to stop pursuing anything – she told us to just keep going. To keep on doing our best and she’d do whatever she could to support us.
As we went to college, we all ventured out of state to college programs that fit our career aspirations. She traveled to each school each year to help us move into our new dorms or apartments and make sure we were settled. She checked in with our friends and made sure we were making good choices. She’d tell you she enjoyed the fun nights on a college campus with her daughters too.
We just wrapped up the third wedding between my sisters and I in the past three years. That’s three bridal showers, three bachelorette parties, and three weddings. Not to mention, all out of state and all over the country. She just keeps going.
So in week three after I came home from the hospital with my son Shepard, was suffering complications of a C-section, struggling with nursing, and exhausted from being up all night, I went to her in tears and said I never knew it was going to be this hard.
She hugged me and told me, just keep going. You can do this.
And today, as I prepare for my son’s first birthday, I’m so looking forward to my house full of my three sisters, who are my best friends, the people I love the most in this world. And with our beloved, strong mother, we’ll celebrate a Mother’s Day that means more than we ever thought possible, as she celebrates five years breast cancer free. She’s the woman who never stopped, who keeps going, even when she hadn’t gotten sleep, hadn’t had “me” time, or felt tired from radiation. She kept going for her family because that’s who she is. And that’s the most important lesson she’s ever taught me.
I’ll teach my son Shepard, thanks to my mother, to always keep going, because I want to do the best for him like she’s done for us.