By Barb Arland-Fye
My mom was living in Germany when I became a first-time mom in 1987, and she flew back to the States to help me during the first weeks of motherhood.
I was 29, married and working full-time, but clueless about what cries meant what needs, worried about infecting my newborn son’s belly button, and wondering how to manage day-care and work schedules.
Mom hadn’t taken care of infants in a long time, but after raising four children all of those crucial skills were second nature. She held my son expertly, not gingerly, dressed and undressed him with ease, demonstrated proper “burping” techniques and advised me on what to expect at all hours of baby Colin’s life.
She prepared the turkey dinner we served following his baptism and boosted my confidence before returning to Germany.
Over the years, I have leaned on my mom almost as much as God for guidance in motherhood. She was the one I turned to — in airmail letters and overseas phone calls — after doctors told my husband Steve and I that 3-year-old Colin had autism. When my parents moved back to the States the following year, Mom attended conferences on autism in the state where they lived and sent books on the subject for me to read.
The most important thing she did — and continues to do for me — is to listen. Somehow the fears, worries and challenges seem less daunting after I’ve talked with her over the phone or in person. She’s told me more than once to “put it in God’s hands.” She also convinced me to recite the rosary as a way to bring peace of mind.
When I announced I was expecting a second child at the end of 1994, she sent a beautiful planter designed as a statue of the Blessed Mother. It remains one of my favorite keepsakes.
After Patrick was born, my in-laws arrived to help out. I appreciated their assistance greatly, but when Mom came to assist after they left, I felt more at ease. With Mom, it was OK to be emotional; I could let the tears of joy and frustration flow.
As Patrick grew, I probably was too anxious watching for developmental milestones because Colin’s had been delayed. Mom knew of my anxieties, whether I expressed them verbally or not, and assured me everything would be OK. In fact, Patrick has taken on a sort of big-brother role for Colin — with his older sibling’s approval.
Mom loves each of these grandsons for the individuals they are, and continues to offer me advice on how to help them achieve their potentials.
I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself an expert at motherhood, so I continue to turn to Mom whose wisdom is invaluable.
A decade ago, my mom became quite ill because of complications from a severe back problem. I remember my dad telling me on the phone, his voice brimming with emotion, that he had nearly lost her the night before. She had been taken by ambulance to the hospital and had to have back surgery the next day. Prayers were answered and she made a fine recovery.
Now that she’s in her early 70s, I realize I won’t always be able to consult with Mom, have a good laugh with her, or cry on her shoulder. But on this Mother’s Day, I am going to thank God for the blessing of my mom. And then I’m going to give her a call.