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Monday, May 9, 2016

To Anastasia on her first Mother's Day

I am writing this column as a letter to someone I only recently met. I have known Anastasia, my daughter, since before she was born. She introduced herself to me with firm kicks of independence and happy dancing while she was still in the womb. Anastasia the mother, however, I just met on December 2nd, 2015. She bears a resemblance to the young woman I watched grow up. But another aspect of her personality is emerging. She is a confident, calm and knowledgeable young mother, and I admire her patience, her strength and her wholehearted dedication to this tiny being who has been delivered to her care. This is my note to her, my middle daughter, Leti’s mom.

"Dear Anastasia. One year ago, you gave me a card that said, “Happy Mother’s Day, GRANDMA.” I thought you chose it for the flowers on it and didn’t read it very carefully. Actually, it was chosen with care. That is how you announced that baby Leti was coming. Of all the wonderful homemade gifts I have received over the years, I would have to say that’s a winner. I bought a brand new photo album and stuck the card on the front. Over the past year I have filled the album with weekly photos, chronicling every morning of this new journey that we are on: you as a mother, me as a grandmother. It’s quite an adventure already.

While you were pregnant, I listened as you reported on your frequent bouts of morning sickness and my memory (and my stomach) commiserated. But you were just telling me a story; you weren’t complaining. You never complained. Not even when your feet swelled up to the point you could no longer wear proper shoes. Not even when you could no longer sleep lying down but had to recline slightly in a chair, surrounded by your worried dogs. You studied pregnancy so that you would understand exactly what your body was going through, and you explained it to the rest of us. I was pregnant three times and all kinds of weird and wonderful things happened to me. I just listened to the doctor, whom I only saw about once a month for most of the pregnancy. In contrast, you trust your instincts and challenge the doctor when you see things a different way. I admire your confidence and will. You listened to the little person growing inside your body and made your own decisions on how things would go.

When you went into labour a month early, you trusted your instincts and got yourself safely to your husband and your doctor. You calmly told your mate he would not be leaving your side – not even to collect an overnight bag. You spoke to me and to your partner and to the nurses, all the while breathing deeply through your contractions. You were so calm. Even when the contractions went off the chart.

The birth itself, you tell me, was the worst pain you had ever been through, but only for a moment. When the baby was born and needed a little boost from CHEO for the first week you travelled back and forth to the hospital daily to be by her side. You curved your new little family into its own rhythm of feedings and changings, naps and playtime. The rest of the world was firmly but gently told to wait until you could fit it into your schedule. You realized you were in charge and made sure everyone else understood. A proud and protective Little Mama Bear.

You have everything you need, at 24, to carry out this most important job with ease. There will be challenges. There will be setbacks and disappointments. But with your calm confidence, your strong partner at your side, and your positive outlook, you will get through whatever comes your way.
For a long time I have been very proud of the young woman you have grown into, Anastasia. And now I would like to say I am in awe of the mother you are becoming. You will always be my daughter. My little girl. But I am very happy to know this new side of you: Leti’s Mom. It’s nice to meet you. Happy First Mother’s Day. Love always, Mom (Grandma ;)."


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