A Letter to My Wife, On Mothers Day
Unfathomable. A word I've heard used to describe the depths of the oceans. The expanse of the cosmos. It's meaning? Incapable of being fully explored or understood. Call it hyperbole, but it's the only word I can conjure that does justice to the love and devotion of the mother of my child. Dying to self is a phrase that typically carries a biblical context. That context aside, it's entirely appropriate to describe the selflessness I've seen in her. The depths of the sacrifice she's made since Addie was born is unfathomable. I've yet to see a ceiling or a floor, but I think that's because neither exists. As I see Addie grow, learn, change, and explore each new day - I know exactly who is responsible for it. I'm not there all the time. I can't be with her every waking hour. But Steph is. And as I sit there every day, amazed at how far Addie has come, I can't help but be thankful that she has the mother she has. Our child is fearless. Our child has a fire for life. Our child is smart as a whip. Our child perseveres. Our child loves. Our child laughs. Our child is who she is because of her mother.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day. To not pull yourself up and see the bird's eye view. But on days like Mother's Day, it's necessary. It's necessary to take time to recognize what it is to be a mother. And in our case, it's necessary to take time to recognize what it is to be Addie's mother. The established norm of being a mother is incredibly difficult. I won't take anything away from that. And I don't say this next thing to demean any of the incredible mothers out there, who don't have to deal with everything that Steph faces. But I can't take anything away from her, either. She's been hit with so much more in the first 2 years of her child's life than many will experience in their entire lives. Everyone has their cross to bear. And some carry it differently than others.
Steph carries hers with grace. She doesn't see it as a cross. She sees it as a challenge. She sees it as a thing that must be done. We have a joke in our family about Addie's abilities. We say she got her brains from me, but her work ethic from Steph. It's a joke. I don't pretend to be smarter than my wife. And I don't pretend that I'm a harder worker than my wife. I've been with this woman since college and I can tell you, without question, that she has a drive that far surpasses mine. It's easy to see that she has passed that down to Addie. Through all of the formal therapy sessions. Through all of the informal theraplay sessions. In their daily walks, reading time, play time. Every waking moment is spent with some goal in mind. There's rarely a time when these girls are off the clock. They're constantly working. Constantly trying to overcome an obstacle.
Addie was born with a fighting spirit. She has an innate fire that burns inside her. Steph has taught her how to channel that. How to focus that energy. How to use it to continue to move forward. On this day, the 2nd Mother's Day for our family, I am exceedingly thankful for her. For the example she is setting for Addie. For the woman that she is. For the woman that she will teach Addie to be.
I know that sometimes she feels inadequate. Fearful that she's made the wrong decision. But I urge her today to pull herself out of the day-to-day, up to where the crow flies. To see what she has made possible in Addie's life. To take a moment to resuscitate the self that has died, and be proud of the mother she is. To realize that the whole of Addie is who she is, because of her mother.
Last Mother's Day, I found a photo that I thought summed up Steph as a mother to that point. It was of her, holding Addie in the NICU. Mascara streaming down her cheek. This year's photo doesn't even have Steph in it. It's Addie. At a park. With her walker. On a bridge. It was taken on a "day off" from therapy. What was supposed to be downtime. But Steph didn't see it that way. She continued to work the program. It's poignant for me, particularly after just having watched Addie run around the beach, in the sand and the surf, like a crazed lunatic, no walker needed.
She's who she is because of who her mother is.