WRITTEN BY ELIZABETH CONRATH (GUEST WRITER)
A LETTER TO MY MUM
To My Dearest Mother,
I am sorry that I did not understand.
When I was younger, I did not fully understand the impact of pregnancy on one’s body. I was not aware of the ways in which your body and mind had to stretch and grow in order to accommodate the growing child (me!) within you.
I did not understand the fatigue you felt as you recovered from your deliveries and then comforted and fed babies all day and then overnight. I didn’t know the effort that went into bringing me into the world and the length of time required to fully recover from that momentous event.
I did not understand the psychological, emotional, and physical exertion involved with feeding your littlest loves. I wasn’t aware that women struggled so much with the decision (or lack of decision) to breastfeed or not to breastfeed. I didn’t know about the heightened sense of responsibility you felt as you were the primary nourishment for your child.
I did not understand the tremendous amounts of energy that you poured into your daughters every day. I didn’t realize how much effort it took to make sure your young children were well-fed, had diapers changed, went potty, went down for naps, and stayed safe from all hazards.
I did not understand the worries you felt. You worried about whether we were happy, healthy, eating enough, kind to other children, and grateful. Most of all, you just wanted us to know how absolutely loved we were (and are!).
I did not understand how you could feel isolated and lonely while home with your three tiny beings. It would not have made sense to me then; there were people around you, only these people required your time and attention. We couldn’t give back to you as much as you were giving to us.
I did not understand why you awakened at 5 am each day to squeeze in your prayer time and coffee in the silence. It sounded strange to me to set an alarm so early just to have those precious moments to yourself.
I did not understand the sacrifices you made in your own career and personal life so that you would be as available to us as possible. I didn’t think about how, in becoming a mother, you had to give up some components of your life before children. I did not understand how your heart hurt when one of us was sick. I could not yet know how one person’s body and being could be so intertwined with another’s.
I did not understand the cognitive effort that went into planning every meal, carpool, vacation, holiday, playdate—and the list goes on and on. I saw you working, but I just didn’t comprehend the vastness of the to-do list.
I did not understand the communication and attentiveness it required to stay on top of the school, work, and activity schedules of our family of five. We were absolutely busy, and in my eyes, it was easy to have it all fall right into place. It felt seamless.
I did not understand your frustration when you had to remind us over and over again to do our chores and to participate in the family responsibilities. It didn’t seem to be a big deal to me then.
I did not understand how hard you and dad worked to ensure your marriage remained strong and everlasting. I didn’t know that it took a conscious effort to be sure you were not drifting apart amid the chaos of everyday young family life.
I did not understand, but still, I was grateful. I was thankful to have you as my mom and to have dad as my dad.
And now I am a grown woman and wife, and I have three young, vibrant daughters, myself.
And I know.
I do now understand more of how you may have been feeling.
I wish I would have been able to know it then, but that, of course, is not how life works.
So, please know how utterly grateful I am to you for the decades of your life that you’ve poured into nourishing and loving me and my sisters.
And of course, amidst all the craziness of having little children, I do now also know the absolute, unconditional love that I feel toward my own children. And I know, without a doubt, that you cherished (and cherish!) that love, too. I know what an incredible impact each of my children has had in my life and how each child allows me to love greater and greater. I know the precious feel of their snuggles and the delicate sound of their voices. I know so intimately how these little people are helping to fulfil my life’s mission and to make my life more full and complete—in such a beautiful way. And I know that you know all of that, too.
I love you so much.
Aren’t we the luckiest?
I hope you enjoyed this letter to my mum, thank you for reading!