Yesterday marked the passing of my first Mother's Day without my mom, which certainly made for a bittersweet day.
I remember last year at this time, we celebrated Mother's Day with her in the hospital. I was pregnant and pretty much only thinking about myself, wishing that I could lay down and put my swollen feet up somewhere.
My mom, who always put her family ahead of herself, also told me to go home and rest. She insisted she was fine and didn't want me spending so much time at the hospital when I had a family to take care of.
That, just like the quote above, is what defines a good mother. And my mom had selflessness in droves.
The plan all along, once she was completely healed and out of hospital, was that she would help take care of my son once a week when I went back to work. Though she wouldn't be able to care for him four days a week, like she did with my daughter for nine months, she still wanted to help out in some capacity.
When it became clear that she just wasn't going to get better, my mom came to live at our house in between hospital stays. She didn't have the strength to lift up my son, but she could hold him for a short time if placed on her lap. And so that's what she did when he needed his bottle.
I was always hesitant to leave her alone with him, but on one day I had no other option. He was napping upstairs, but I had to run out and pick up my daughter. And so I left him alone with my mom.
Her instructions were that under no circumstances was she to go upstairs to pick him up. Regardless of whether he woke up early or began crying, she was to leave him up there, as I would be back within minutes anyway.
But, of course, when I came back home, my mom was upstairs, looking over him in his bassinet and speaking to him in Italian. I don't know how she made it up the stairs without falling herself, but she did it because she couldn't leave her newborn grandson up there all alone to cry.
Then, a few days later, my mom even attempted to help me shovel snow. I was out there clearing the driveway while my son napped, only to find that my mom had put on her coat and came outside to push snow off our deck.
I'm sure the weight of the snow was at least half her own weight, but she did the best she could despite her grave condition.
Less than a month later, she was gone.
None of us are perfect individuals and, by extension, none of us are perfect mothers. I make parenting mistakes on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
My mom was no different, except that she lived the quote above and always put the well-being of her family ahead of her own.