Sometimes in life, and quite frequently in motherhood, we find ourselves in situations where we think “I wish someone, anyone, would come save me.”
In these moments, the task ahead of us seems insurmountable and we feel like we don’t have the fortitude required to get through it. I’ve had more moments like these than I care to admit but I have also had the good fortune of having so many wonderful and caring people in my life. One woman in particular has been a constant savior and I honestly don’t know what my life now would look like without her.
The first time we spoke, I had an inkling of the kind of sweet-hearted woman she might be. I had only been dating her son for about a month, so when I answered the phone and she asked for him I was eager to hand her off. But immediately she asked if I was Amanda and then began excitedly asking questions, wanting to know all about me. Not in an interrogating way but in a kind and genuinely curious sort of way. I’m not sure what Dave had already told her but the way she spoke to me makes me wonder if she’d already known that I would be around awhile.
Our first meeting in person was no different and I came to learn that this woman wanted nothing more than to love and support me. She immediately embraced me as her own, even referring to Dave and I as “the kids” when we went on a group vacation together. I still wonder what the resort staff must have thought when they later saw Dave and I making out in the hot tub. But that was how it was with her. I was a part of her family long before I officially became her daughter-in-law 6 years later.
The first time she saved me was after my daughter was born and my maternity leave was coming to an end. We couldn’t afford daycare, nor could we afford to have me be a stay-at-home mom. I felt trapped and despaired. My mother-in-law’s temporary position had just ended and she casually suggested that maybe she could look after my daughter. Knowing what a caring and attentive mother she already was, I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to help raise my daughter. To selflessly give up her working life and semi-retire early was the grandest gesture she’d ever made for my family. I would also be remiss not to gratefully acknowledge my father-in-law in this selfless gesture, as he now must shoulder the financial responsibility for their household alone.
As she cared for our daughter while we worked, she also started tidying our house. When my daughter napped, my mother-in-law would do our dishes, vacuum our floors, put away toys and sometimes do our laundry. Not having to deal with all that stuff after a day of work is, I think, one of the best gifts you can give a mother. And when my daughter was diagnosed with cystinosis my mother in law saved us again. Not only with her love and support but also with her presence. Knowing that there was someone I completely trusted looking after my daughter and ensuring her medications were given on time, took an incredible load off my back and allowed me to continue working without the guilt of leaving my daughter at home.
However she has never saved me more than this past year. When my son was born and I struggled to divide my time between two children,
she saved me.
When I longed for sleep and felt I didn’t have the energy to keep them alive,
she saved me.
When I needed some time away from the never ending demands of motherhood,
she saved me.
She was a friend who listened to me when I was overwhelmed and lifted me up when I felt like I couldn’t move.
Her unwavering devotion to her family and willingness to help at the drop of a dime leave me forever grateful and also forever worried that I might be taking advantage of her. She is the kind of loving and selfless person that will put others needs before her own. And though she argues that being with her grandkids is the only place she wants to be, I know that her sacrifice must still be difficult sometimes.
I hear mother-in-law horror stories all the time so I’m fully aware of how lucky I am. She is constantly added to my daily gratitude list and I will never be able to fully express what she means to me. She is an inspiring mother, a zealous grandmother and an extraordinary woman who I love immensely.
Thank you for always being there for us, Mom.
Amanda is a mother to two beautiful children and began writing, after her daughter was diagnosed with a rare disease, Cystinosis. She started the blog Elsinosis: Living with Cystinosis to chronicle their story, advocate for her daughter and help other families in similar situations look for their silver linings. Her writing has appeared on The Mighty, Good Mother Project, Coffee + Crumbs and she was cast member of Vancouver’s inaugural Listen To Your Mother Show. You can follow her family’s story at www.elsinosis.com, on Facebook and on Instagram.
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