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May 12, 2012

A Mother’s Gratitude

by Anne Paddock

Mother’s Day seems to be about the kids bringing Mom breakfast in bed or going out to brunch and sometimes even about flowers and chocolates. These are all thoughtful and delicious, but, I want to offer a different take on Mother’s Day this year that focuses on gratitude; gratitude for my husband who gave me my daughter.

I always wanted to be a mom and even though there were years of my youth where I could not imagine myself a mother because I wasn’t ready, I knew that someday that would change. Nothing – college majors, jobs, marriage – ever seemed so clear to me as my desire to eventually have a family. The problem was I fell in love with a guy who couldn’t imagine himself a father.

My husband and I have been together 26 years and there have been ups and downs but there have been way more ups than downs. I married a guy who is hilarious, thoughtful, loyal, and just plain fun to be around and I know I’m lucky to feel that way after almost three decades. I’ve often referred to our first ten years together as “The Paul and Anne Show” because we were focused on each other and our life together. But after a decade of work, travel, and late dinners, something clicked inside me and I wanted a family but my husband didn’t. He was perfectly happy the way things were. There was no compromise on this issue: we were either going to have a baby or not have a baby and I couldn’t imagine my life without a child.

While we were trying to figure this out, we traveled to California to attend a wedding on a beautiful Spring weekend. The hotel happened to be attached to a water park which meant there were literally hundreds of children at this vacation spot. On a Saturday afternoon, we clamoured into the elevator with about 10 kids who were dripping wet. All of a sudden the kids started shaking their heads back and forth spraying water everywhere like a sprinkler system. My husband stood there calmly and when we got off the elevator, he turned to me and said “Let’s see…we could spend a few weeks a year in Wally World or we could go to Paris…tough call, there.”  OK, so I glamorized the family thing but life isn’t all Parisian cafes and croissants, either.

My husband eventually realized family life didn’t have to be limited to Wally World and for that leap of faith, I will be forever grateful. Life for “our tiny little family” (as we refer to ourselves) has been a bigger adventure than either of us ever could have imagined (we mistakenly thought adding a child to our family would slow us down). Our daughter turned out to be the catalyst  that propelled us to take a break from the rat race, play dates and conventional living by packing up and moving to Europe when she finished kindergarten. It wasn’t always easy but there are no regrets except that maybe we should have done it even sooner than we did.

A friend of mine once told me that having a child is the most unselfish thing she ever did because she stopped thinking about herself all the time. Our daughter also took the focus off ourselves, spurred us to take an adventure and allowed us to see life from a different perspective. So, on this Mother’s Day, I want to thank my husband because he gave me the best Mother’s Day gift I could ask for: my daughter and in that gift, he gave us both experiences and memories we otherwise would never have had.  A million thank you’s, Paul.

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