By: Erin Shepard
It’s 26 steps from my bed to my daughter’s room. On the nights I am woken up by her tears, I count each painful step; toe to heel, ankle to knee, hip, back, shoulders aching, stomach turning. At the end of our re-tuck-in routine some form of the following conversation takes place:
She asks, “Be here when I wake up?”
I bend down, gently kiss her on the forehead, and answer, “Be here when you wake up, sweetheart.”
As I leave her room, I usually fight back the knot in my throat as I think about what a privilege Motherhood is to me. A year after Hayden was born I began having uncomfortable health problems that ended with a diagnosis of Crohn’s and a battle for my life. My healthy 25-year-old body began deteriorating rapidly. At 80 pounds, I spent the next year in and out of the hospital.
Those hospital nights, despite the pain, my tears were due to the fact that I had an eighteen-month-old that I could not kiss goodnight. That I didn’t have the luxury of taking those 26 steps to her room to check on her in the middle of the night or the luxury of being the first thing she saw when she woke up. My biggest fear was that I might lose that privilege altogether.
We reached a point where I could no longer care for myself or our daughter while my husband was at work. We moved in with my parents. My mom, in all her wonder, cared for my daughter and me day-in and day-out. Slowly miracles happened, beginning with, I survived. I regained strength and I’m somehow maintaining weight. I regained the ability to walk, go upstairs, pick up my daughter and play on the ground with her. Day by day, I was able to take care of my girl.
Motherhood is purpose. No one can fill my shoes as a mother the same way I can.
Motherhood is practice. Some days my patience grows short. Sometimes I don’t have the most gracious answers. Sometimes I forget to brush her teeth, but each new day I get to try again.
Motherhood is a sacrifice. Some days I am not sure I can bear. Some days it’s more energy and time than I have. Other days it’s filled with such joy and magic, time stands still and I have the energy to see the world from a toddler’s perspective.
Motherhood is selflessness. It is kindness in its gentlest form. Motherhood is the most important teaching job I will ever have and the most important CEO position I can hold in the most important company I know…my family.
Every time I am able to be hear when she wakes up or comfort her, I am reminded of the days I could only wish for the chance to care for her again. Being a mother is happiness and priceless. It is my reason to continue to fight a good fight.