“Watch me…..watch me…..please mom, just one more time, I promise…this is the last time!”
How many times do you remember saying that as a child?
“Watch this! I can do a cartwheel….I can do a penny drop off the jungle gym, I can swim across the pool this time, I just know it!”
……and you’d repeat it over and over because the time you asked mom to watch, it just didn’t work out. Your cartwheel ended up looking like a somersault, you just got too scared to release your legs on the monkey bars and just kept swinging until you had a complete head rush, or you had to grab the side of the pool gasping for breath as you tried desperately to make it to the other end. But who stood there time and time again?
For me, it was my mom.
So, fast forward 27 years. I was preparing to have a child of my own. My husband and I were ready – or at least we thought we were ready. I had read what to expect when you’re expecting from cover to cover and checked the boxes off as the 9 months came to an end. There I was, miles away from my mom.
I remember the call I made on the way to the hospital. It was a little different tone from my usual calls – this was an “I NEED you” call. You know that call – you know you can handle this whole childbirth thing (or hope so) and just need that reassurance at the other end of the phone. It’s clearly mom morse code that we all have down to a science.
She knew – I needed her – so as I delivered a beautiful, healthy daughter, my parents started their 6 hour drive to meet their new grandchild. I still remember my mom bursting into the hospital room, looking put together and beautiful as she always did, scooping up Hannah and holding her close. It was at that moment that there was a shift, the old “watch me mom – look at me, I can do this!” now turned to something different.
Now I was watching my mom – watching her swaddle Hannah in just the perfect way – the puzzle swaddle that I just couldn’t get quite right. I sat back and watched my mom give Hannah her first bath. I remember saying, “Mom, I’ll watch you the first time”, as I was terrified I would do something wrong.
My mom was my lifesaver in so many situations. So many times during my life journey I had wanted her to watch me – watch me get my drivers license, or run out the door to go on a first date, watch me graduate from college, watch me get my wedding gown, watch me walk down the aisle with the man of my dreams. She never questioned it but just sat back with a whole lot of patience and watched.
As my family continued to grow, I remember sitting at the side of the pool in Florida one sunny March day Hannah, the courageous but calculated risk -taking first born, decided she didn’t need water wings. I remember her saying, “watch me mom , I can do this – I can swim without the wings.”
And sure enough she did. Her little arms and legs going a million miles an hour made it across that darn pool – and I sat there and watched. I think back to second born child, Noah, standing outside in the pouring rain with the spotlight on the garage shining on him through the rain drops in the driveway.
“Mom, watch me make this 3!”
Of course he didn’t make the 3 on his first, second or 20th try, but he kept trying and I kept watching, even though I was muttering under my breath that he was going to get sick and catch pneumonia. But I stood and watched as finally that 3 pointer spun around and circled the rim…and finally went in. I remember him glancing over after each and every shot to make sure I was still there.
And there was the time that Caleb, our youngest, said “mom, will you pay me 3 dollars if I go up to that girl and say ‘hi, how are you?’ Watch me mom, I’ll do it.”
I have had so many ‘watch me moments’ on my journey through life. We start out wanting to be watched, wanting to be accepted, wanting the accolades that go along with success. Wanting our mom to stay there just one more minute to see us do something we thought was spectacular.
Now fast forward to 22 years of marriage and 9 moves across the country and now number ten was looming – a move across the Atlantic. This time it was my kids, watching me. Listening closely to every word I said as we prepared for this new normal, this new adventure. They would watch how I reacted to things, like the house going on the market, or the uncertainty of how long we would be gone, or watching tearful good byes to friends and family.
I think back to that first flight across the Atlantic, landing in Frankfurt and beginning this new adventure. I remember calling my mom from the airport lounge. Hearing her voice was the reassurance I needed. It was her way of letting me know she knew it would be challenging, but she’d be there every step of the way.
As the years went by I would talk with my mom everyday. I know that’s hard to even comprehend, but even with a 7 hour time difference, I would pick up the phone at 3:00 in the afternoon in Germany which was 8:00am her time, sit in my little wingback chair facing the window and wait anxiously for her to pick up the phone. Just hearing her voice would give me the confidence I needed that day.
She’d listen as my kids would go through the ups and downs of middle school with hormones raging out of control, and listen as I’d tell her about the stresses and struggles of homework and tests, and common core math that doesn’t look anything like the math I used to do. She’d listen as I’d tell her about Hannah going through the college application process. My mom had gone through all of this in her own lifetime and would continually remind me that this doesn’t really matter that much in the scheme of life success.
I would come back to the US each summer for a visit. It was something we all looked for to. Each year I could see that my dad’s health was starting to decline, due to Parkinson’s disease. I witnessed as my mom stood by his side and loved him with all her heart no matter what struggle or challenge they encountered. I could see with those short visits that my mom had started to age and slow down.
I watched as my mom suffered a broken heart after the death of my dad. I could see she was lonely and sad. She was struggling.
And in turn my children watched me the morning I got the call from my sister. The call that changed the entire cadence of my life from that moment forward. My kids listened as I cried so loud just knowing in my heart I wouldn’t make it back in time.
My mom watched me do so things that made me happy.
She watched my siblings have success with business, home purchases, new jobs. She listened to the many stories from her grandchildren. She watched over all of us, all of the time. But then came the unexpected day that her work was done. It was time for her to watch over us from heaven. There are many days when I wish my mom was here with me. I really wasn’t prepared for her to be gone.
My days sure are different without her. I still pause every day at 3:00pm because that was my time with her. But I’m so grateful for the gifts she shared with me over 45 ½ years. I’m thankful because my kids can listen to all the stories of cherished memories. We can all laugh when they say, “mom, you look just like grandma.” Or when my husband says, “Amy, I see your mom in you in so many ways.”
Watch over me mom….I will continue to make you proud!
I am Amy and I am a currently in my Act 1 1/2 . What’s that? Well, that’s when your kids are all of sudden big and more and more independent, and PTA meetings and play groups aren’t top of list of priorities anymore. I have one off at college, a high school sophomore and a 6th grader. We have spent the last 5 1/2 years living abroad in Germany and now are adjusting back to our ‘new normal’ in the US. We loved our time there and explored so many interesting places, but it was time to be home. I love being a mom and have been for full time for the last 18 years. Now – it’s my time. So I’ve started a Rodan and Fields skincare business and am loving it. I’m writing as I have time and enjoying life with my family. Most places we go we are Schmidt, party of 5! That’s what warms my heart. Find Amy online or on Facebook.
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