When I became a mother to our sweet girl, Melody, during the Grand Toledo Polar Vortex, in the weeks that followed all I wanted was to have my mom around. I grew up in a small town in Adams County, Pennsylvania, and that is where my mother resides. A whole 7 hours away.
During my pregnancy, we would attempt to FaceTime, talk on the phone, text. My relationship with my mother is very unique. If I could compare it to anything, I’d have to say it’s the equivalent to a Hurricane. Moments of complete chaos with other moments of complete stillness and peace. (Who else is with me on this?) So, having the desire to have my mother around was genuine but also romanticized.
I would sit and recall the types of advice she had given me my whole life.
I would be wondering if maybe she imparted this wisdom on me because she knew she was going to be absent, even while present. Even so, there are moments where I hear her words to me, spoken even before I thought of ever having a child of my own.
“Make sure to rub the baby’s head in a circle with your cupped hand. You don’t want it to have a cone head.”
“Faith, remember, if you get frustrated, just put the baby down and let it cry and walk away. You don’t want to do something you’d regret.”
Once I had Melody, I didn’t know up from down. I tried to take all of her wisdom, and the wisdom of every mom I knew, and mush it together to validate my parenting decisions. How I wish my mom was in the hospital with me when I sobbed, unable to get my daughter to latch to me. And I wish my mom was in the same city as I, able to run over in the middle of the night when my husband and I were at wits end. But, being 7 hours away, it’s kind of tough to just hop in the car and come help at 3:00AM.
Not having my mother locally gave me a greater independence.
Yes, it’s so hard to not have your mom around and it’s so hard to feel jealous of others. But, you have to remind yourself that you were given a unique opportunity; paving your own path, the way you want, with little interruption. That, I think, is the best gift I think a distant mother can give you.
You are able to weigh options for your child without worrying if your mother will have, loving, but unasked for, advice. You will gain an appreciation for your mother in law, who will step in and fill in the local gaps. Mother in laws often get a bad rep, but I hit the jackpot with mine. My mother in law, ran to Target for me and let me visit with my daughter when I needed some new scenery and adult conversation.
Girl, the gift you are given is that you have the opportunity to create the mom you are, and will become.
You have the opportunity to do this through good ole fashioned trial and error and through locating a support system, like Toledo Moms, who will cheer you on, share in your wins and losses, and be a diverse parenting resource when you need options. Utilize what’s local, and just know that you are never alone in this.