I’m glad I got to see my mom yesterday to wish her a happy Mother’s Day in person and to feel the comfort of her arms wrapping me in an affirming hug that only a mother can give. Our visit was brief, mostly because I was feeling the systemic fallout of the anaphylactic contamination on Friday. My whole body rippled with pain with every rocking heart beat and I could barely keep my eyes open, despite the early afternoon hour. We toured mom around our yard to glean her expertise on our various outdoor projects and showed off Comet’s progress and the painting job accomplished this week. It’s rather embarrassing that my mom possess all these skills and knowledge about taking care of a home and yard that I failed to absorb when I was young and lived under her roof. I suppose, in all fairness, my focus was elsewhere, as I was a high-achieving academic student, a talented oboist, and obsessed with breaking records on the running course; however, for all the smarts and abilities I attained as a child and adolescent, I missed picking up many important life skills, including caring for a home and effectuating my own home repairs. My mom can do it all: gardening, painting, woodwork, brush removal, interior decorating, making decisions about heating and cooling and materials science.
After our visit together, I felt totally tuckered out, which is my way of relaying that I was exhausted. I spent the rest of the day lying in bed daydreaming about an idyllic future where I’d feel good all the time and lived in a good-looking, sound home with enough money to not have to fret that unpaid bills would need to rollover to the next month. This contamination is causing especially thunderous joint pain that reverberates in my tight muscles as echoing aches. It’s nearly impossible to allow my body to relax and ignore the constant ripples of pain. I’m still in the downward phase of the pain, which is means that each day is still progressively worse than the last. Usually, the symptoms peak around a week out from the incident and then plateau for a week or so at that level before very gradually diminishing in severity for another two to four weeks. This is why it’s so critical that I avoid a contamination. It’s not just a couple of days of feeling horribly sick; it’s a slow cycle that extends for several months.
Many times a week I think about being a mom. I always wanted children when I was young and was forever nurturing my baby dolls and acting out parenting scenarios. In the past couple years, I’ve come to understand that I will not ever be a biological mother, and likely not even a foster or adopt one. I can’t emotionally handle this truth much of the time, so I compartmentalize it in my mind as a way to try and distance my heart. When I genuinely face that fact, it’s usually too devastating to bear.
However, fortunately, lately something is shifting a bit. Although my heart still yearns to conceive, birth, and raise a child with my husband, the recent renewal of energy and love that’s been poured into caring for Comet post-operatively has reminded me that I am a mom. Perhaps I’m not the conventional mom of an actual human child as I always dreamed I would be, but mothering Comet is a responsibility and honor I am blessed to have. Like many dreams formed in childhood, what we actually get isn’t exactly what we thought we wanted; sometimes we find we change our dreams and got more than we hoped for, and other times we need to modify them and be okay with not getting everything we wanted. It looks like motherhood will fall in that latter category for me. For now, and likely for always, the extent of my mothering will be showered on Comet or other pets. If I’m being truthful, some days, this doesn’t feel like enough; it feels like I lost something I never actually had but that I believed so deeply would always be my life that it feels like it is a loss now that it can’t come to fruition. Other days, when I’m curled in a ball on the floor in agony cuddling my puppy love right up against my chest pressing into my heart, I feel at peace at what I have and what I’m able to give as a mom with chronic illness. Ever since Comet stumbled back into the house bleary-eyed and drugged from her anesthesia a few ago after her surgery, I have a renewed sense of purpose as a mom. She gloms on to me and looks to me for all of her care, joy, safety, and love; I’m lucky to be able to flood her with all of these and in return, I get just as much back.
I can’t say what Mother’s Day will look like for me in ten years or even five, but I know that for this one, 2018, I’m so grateful for the company and love of my mom and for the opportunity to be that for my dog.