What does being a mom mean to me? A miracle. With the first pregnancy I miscarried. Multiple surgeries followed – without anesthesia, I might add (what was with those old-time gynecologists?). Years later at nearly 40, a pioneering technique gave me motherhood and Moriah. I’ll never forget those sweet midnight hours of nursing her in my old rocking chair, softly humming Kumbaya and staring out the window at the moonlit weeping willow. All was perfect.

Then began the years of daycare, work, sleeplessness, playfulness, yeses and no’s. They were rich with bumps, bubble baths, the loudest burps ever, and endless laughter.

With school, peers entered the scene. Bullies, too. Teachers were wonderful, but once in awhile, not so wonderful. Rocks and shells became endlessly fascinating. So did flowers, trees, and rainbows. In those years, motherhood meant reading Harry Potter together, then listening to Harry Potter on the tape deck maybe 37 times – all seven volumes.  

At nine, Moriah’s back began to bend. Into a brace she fell, from shoulder to hip, 20 hours a day. The leg brace I’d worn for polio as a kid finally made sense. It was mere preparation to understand and help her through the adjustment. On her first day of school wearing it, the class and I sat on the floor and we talked about scoliosis and the support kids need who have it.  Thankfully, most of them listened. Six years later she emerged unscathed – a beautiful butterfly.

Then high school. Is adolescence ever easy for kids? Perhaps in those years, I was the proudest of moms. Moriah chose to buck the mainstream and search out kids to befriend who were the sideliners. Together they had their own parties, eschewed drugs, drink, and joyriding, and loved each other intensely. I’ll never forget watching her at 16 as, dressed in a long sky blue gown, she walked into the prom brave and alone.  

Now at 25, she is poised to enter graduate school in cellular and molecular medicine and after that, hopefully, medical school. She has a boyfriend we love who is more than likely, “the one.”  They talk about houses and kids all the time. Life is so very, very good. After all, isn’t our happiness directly proportional to our kids’ happiness?

So what is being a mom? Love and more love, a large dose of vulnerability, soaring high with successes and skimming the floor with failures, counting the teeth marks in our tongues, enduring the push-aways, savoring the late night, knee hugging talks, holding and comforting any hour of any day, and marveling in awe as our children become more and more themselves every day. There’s nothing better than this.


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More in The Archives
A Mother’s Day Message
Julie Gottman, Ph.D.

Julie Gottman, Ph.D. is the co-founder and President of The Gottman Institute, and Clinical Supervisor for the Couples Together Against Violence study. A highly respected clinical psychologist, she is sought internationally by media and organizations as an expert advisor on marriage, sexual harassment and rape, domestic violence, gay and lesbian adoption, same-sex marriage, and parenting issues.

  • Beautiful

  • David Yoo

    Thank you for sharing such profound and rich reflection with such poise!