(Each year on Mother’s Day, I like to post a piece from another Mom’s perspective. Today we bring you the self-written story of Suzanne Reisig Olden, our favorite Bulletin contributor, and her real and powerful memories of her life with her children.) To all, I wish…
From a Mother… by Suzanne Reisig Olden
This year I’ll be celebrating my eighteenth Mother’s Day. My oldest, my son Eric, is 17 and getting ready to graduate high school. My youngest, my daughter Meghan, 13, is trying to find her way and voice in the world she faces as a young woman. (The math works. I was a mother-to-be eighteen years ago on this special day.) That first Mother’s Day, a few months pregnant with Eric, was an occasion full of wonder and tender nerves. I was looking forward to being a mom, wondering what it would be like, if I was up to the challenge…and completely without a clue as to how demanding a job it is to be Mom… the hardest job you’ll ever love.
A bit of history.
Mother’s Day has long been celebrated in the U.S., even prior to the date of official observance. A special day reserved to honor mothers originated after the Civil War by women’s peace groups and mothers who had lost their sons to the War. There were several limited observances in the 1870’s and the 1880’s but other than local commemorations, the day of reverence was still in its infancy. In 1868, Ann Jarvis created a committee to start a “Mother’s Friendship Day”. The day was to be set aside to observe and mend the rift created by the Civil War by unifying the mothers of fallen Confederate and Union soldiers. She wanted to see it expanded into an annual memorial for mothers, but died before witnessing the fruition of her dream. Ann Jarvis died in 1907. The following year, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, held a memorial to her mother in Grafton, West Virginia on May 10, 1908, and then embarked upon a campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday, a goal which was achieved when President Woodrow Wilson declared it so in 1914
Initially Mother’s Day was set aside as a day for American citizens to display the flag in honor of mothers whose sons had died in war. Mother’s Day was meant to foster pacifism and social activism by mothers. Now this special day, the second Sunday in May, is set aside to honor all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, step-mothers, foster-mothers… any and all women who have mothered a child and had a significant impact on raising another human being.
Back to my story.
Seventeen Mother’s Days ago, I was the mom of an 8 month old infant. Eric was bright and sunny and happy and he made my world shine. 8 months earlier, one early September morning as I first held my beautiful baby boy in my arms, I looked in those bright blue eyes and knew what my purpose on this earth was… to be his, and later his sister’s, mother.
I had no idea then what the next 17 years would entail, but I know now that it’s been worth every single moment. Motherhood included the pain from two C-sections, long sleepless nights, nursing each child for many months, years of changing diapers, childhood acid reflux (Meghan), trips to the emergency room (again Meghan!), runny noses, fevers, stubbornness (Eric), temper tantrums and kissing “boo boos”; but also first smiles, first steps, first words (both of my kids first sentences were, “Mama, I do it myself!”), sitting with Poppy (my father) in his big chair on a Sunday morning, first days of school, first baseball games, first ballet recitals, first band concerts (both kids), hugs, kisses, silliness and love. Watching my children grow has been an incredible experience that I am privileged to have bestowed upon me. In as much as one can in an article, I’d like to introduce my children, Eric and Meghan, and hopefully you can experience their specialness as I have every day for the past seventeen years.
Eric on his first day in kindergarten and now, a handsome high school senior.
Eric Michael is my son. He is a tall, thin, dark haired, blue eyed, handsome high school senior; graduating in one month. Without a mother’s exaggeration, he was a beautiful baby; happy, healthy and always hungry! He started out with strawberry blond hair and a sunny disposition. Rarely could anything upset him. Sharp as a tack, too! I noticed early on how smart he was (and is). At about when he was 2, we moved back to Maryland to stay with my parents for a short stint. Eric first tried to work the “if Mommy won’t give it to me, I’ll ask Nanny or Poppy” angle (even at the tender age of 2, he was smart?), but we finally settled into an understanding that Mom’s word ruled! After his little sister, Meghan, appeared on the scene, he happily became “big brother” and took to that duty quite seriously. He always looked out for his sister, and today I think, God help the man later who hurts his little sis! Again, it may take quite a push to further Eric into anger but then, (some say he takes after his mama on this!), he is ferocious in his defense of those he loves. Eric happily hopped on the bus the first day of Kindergarten, excited to ride the bus and go to school. (My little boy was already becoming a little man, right in front of my eyes!) An intelligent child, with an affinity for animals and the environment, (not in a rabid tree hugging manner but as an empathetic human with respect for both), his actions told of the good young man he has become. He earned his academic letter as a sophomore, and as of last year, he’s balanced running on the track team (earning another varsity letter there too), a job and a great grade point average. So much so that he was awarded an academic scholarship to the college he will be attending this fall. Throughout the years, he’s helped at church and in the community. It’s a relief and a treat for me to know that he has a strong, solid sense of faith to match that intelligence with which he was born. I’m Eric’s mother and of course I have a subjective eye, but I have had my faith in him confirmed by so many others having told me that he is a great kid, smart, great sense of humor, loving, polite and helpful. Oh the times I treasure having people say, “I just love your son!” I know I do, deeply love you, Eric, my son.
Meghan, first day of kindergarten and today, as a beautiful dancer.
Meghan Elizabeth is my baby girl. She is four years younger than her brother, Eric. Tall, thin, all legs, blonde, blue eyed and beautiful. She was an easy baby…once we got her acid reflux under control! But if she wasn’t happy, EVERYONE knew it! Today if she hears a toddler throwing a fit she’ll throw a mischievous look at me and declare “amateur!” Meghan is a feisty girl with a strong sense of self, wonder and exploration. To this day, something will catch her attention and off she goes to satisfy her curiosity. My continuous mantra to her brother when we’re shopping, “Where is your sister??” Megan, at 13, is now completing up 8th grade. Next year she takes the similar high school route just completed by her brother.
In thinking of her earlier years, Meg decided at the age of 3 that she wanted to be a “dancy girl” . Thusly, she began her now 10-year journey into the competitive, often grueling but always beautiful world of ballet. Today she dances en pointe. Her long legs, perfectly trained for dance, enhance her willowy figure, gracefully floating across the stage. Ballet is demanding enough for most young people but Meg needs more! She plays the oboe, piano (self-taught), sings and draws. Well in touch with her creative side, my girl is crazy smart and consistently on the honor roll. Had enough yet? Not Meg. This year she joined 11 other girls from her middle school as a Junior Color Guard with the high school color guard. She loved it so much that she is headed to marching band next year so she can keep spinning. Oh, and did I mention that Meg has never missed a day of school? She’s trying very hard to keep perfect attendance, and she’s stubborn enough to accomplish it. It’s enticing to watch her develop her artistic talents with her logic-driven math and science studies. She does it all with her incredibly individualized sense of style and flair! It’s nice to again hear others compliment my second child (always both first in my heart) tell me how much they enjoy her loving and helpful nature, as well as her beauty, which never clouds her fun side. She is well known for “glomping” her friends (hugging them so hard they fall over!).
This Mother’s Day, I look at my crazy , track/ballet/color guard mom life and wonder what I’ll do when it’s all over. Knowing that I have children who love God, each other and their family lets me know that I did something right. In several months, I send my oldest out into the world, to college. I know he will excel. Four very short years from now, off goes Meghan as well. I get misty just thinking about it now, but then isn’t that what Moms do as they realize that though their children are no longer babies, they always will be the loves of her life.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women who have fostered the well-being of a child at some point, somewhere in this world.
(Our regular Beacon Bulletin will run on its new weekly schedule, on Tuesdays. Our next Bulletin will therefore be out on May 15, 2012.)
As always, stay safe.
- The origin of Mother’s Day (again) (ilifejourney.wordpress.com)
- Happy Mothers Day (milkweedandmaple.wordpress.com)