Dear Mom, Can You Tell Me How You’ve Done It?

 Dear Mom,

I can imagine the feeling of sheer joy you felt the day he was born. I can imagine the peace that blanketed you while your arms blanketed him. I can imagine the look in your eyes as you looked into his, and thanked the Lord for another healthy child. I can imagine how proud you felt to present Dad with his first son. After having two girls, I can imagine a boy was a welcome addition. I can imagine the dreams you had for him. I can imagine all the visions of “firsts” that went through your mind as you held him for the first time.

Mommy's Christmas Present

I can imagine all of this because I too am a mother now. I too have held my children and dreamed of what their future would hold. I too have envisioned each “first” in their life and the happiness each may bring to mine. What I can’t imagine is how you have coped with all the “firsts” you never envisioned in his life.

How did you survive the first time he had to visit a psychiatrist? How did you deal with a complete stranger telling you there was something wrong with your son after having only known him for one hour, when you had known him for years? He didn’t know his favorite homemade meal. He didn’t know his passion for music. He didn’t know his compassion for others. He didn’t know these things and so many more, yet in one hour he determined there was something so wrong with your son that medication and therapy were ordered. How did you hold back the tears when you realized you were being told years of after school conversations around the kitchen table over milk and cookies were a thing of the past? What your son needed now were hour-long sessions with a stranger who promised to reach him, when his own mother couldn’t.

How did you manage to get through the phone call letting you know your son had been hospitalized because he was confused and couldn’t even tell the day of the week? Did it take you back to the days when you would circle important dates on the calendar for him to look forward to? Or, did it take you even further back to the times you repeatedly sang the days of the week song to him, so he would be ahead of the game when he entered Kindergarten?

How did you hold it together when you stood by his hospital bed time and again, and looked into his eyes much like you did in another hospital long ago? Could you still see your baby boy in those eyes even if he couldn’t see you? How did you make your words reach him when he was trapped in a world incapable of speech? Where have you found the courage mom? Where have you found the strength to pick him up each time he has fallen when his pain now is so much deeper than a scraped knee?

How have you listened to the many different labels placed on your son throughout the years? How have you helped him to accept those same labels as a positive step on a path to mental health, when the only labels you’ve ever had for him are my son, my baby boy, my world? What have you done with all those dreams you had for him? Have you given up on them in your heart of hearts or have you altered them? Have those dreams now simply become ones where he is as happy and healthy as he was when he entered this world? How have you continued to live each day, mom, when you must be dying inside?

As I look at my own son, I think of you mom. I can’t even begin to imagine what you have been through with your son. As his sister, I know what my experience has been, but as I look at my happy, healthy little boy I can’t even begin to imagine the depth of your pain. From one mother to another, I can say you have given me the best example of what it means to be a mother. It isn’t about teaching them their first words, but about being their voice when they can’t speak for themselves. It isn’t about cheering them on when they take their first steps, but about walking alongside them no matter what their journey entails. It isn’t about putting a band-aid on their knee when they fall, but about always being there to pick them back up. Most importantly, it is about never giving up on your child…no matter how many sleepless nights it may cost you.

Forever in awe of you,

Your grateful daughter

50 thoughts on “Dear Mom, Can You Tell Me How You’ve Done It?

  1. I reread this and used to work in a Psych Ward. If only this could be posted in every nurse’s station in every hospital. I still think it is a work of art!

  2. Oh my… this is just so powerful. Such a deep and moving piece. My heart aches reading the words and yet you so eloquently describe a mother’s heart and pain when she has to journey through the suffering of her precious child. I am so glad I stopped by…

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts and also for sharing this post. I feel strongly that we don’t address this topic often enough. I appreciate you stopping by!

  3. My mother has gone ahead of us since 1995. I have almost no idea of how she did everything for me, or maybe I had not given it the much needed importance so I would took notice while she was still with me (us). But seeing my wife did it from the very beginning gave me an idea, at least, of how she may have done it. And it was incredibly done out of unqualified love.

    Your wonderful post is a great reminder for everyone who, like me, may have already forgotten how one wonderful person – our Mother – did her job without an iota of thought of giving up on us.

    Thank you littlemisswordy. This, to me, is a life-changing post. And how it was written and expressed carried me through in awe and admiration. I can’t say anything more!

    1. Thank you for sharing your own story with me. If my words, my story ever touch someone the way you describe, then I know I must keep writing. Your encouraging words here mean much to me. Thank you.

  4. This was definitely a powerful and moving piece! Becoming a mother opens our eyes to so many things we took for granted as children. ~TALU~

    1. Absolutely! I’ve always admired my mom, though I know I didn’t thank her near enough as a child. As a mother now, I admire her that much more. Thank you for your comment.

  5. Wow! I struggle to find words in response to this. I don’t think there’s a parent who can read this without being moved to their very core. It shakes you up. Wonderful writing.and I’m sure she appreciates you being not only your own but his voice too in this post.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my words, comment, and share. My mom is a special lady and I just wanted to remind her of that. As moms we don’t hear the gratitude often enough.

  6. You should already know how I feel based on my previous comments on another piece of yours. Dont forget that all moms are special. Ours have been incredible women and role models but no more or less than yourself.


    1. Thank you for always having such encouraging words for me. We were blessed to have such amazing examples in our moms to guide us as we parent our own children. I’m sure our dads are smiling down on us!

  7. This is one of the best posts I have read in a long time. I work with disabled children and their families and as a mother, I too am in awe of the grace these parents exude in such difficult situations. Like all parents, they love their child unconditionally. Day to day parenting is exhausting even when your child is “normal.” I can’t even imagine. Your mom sounds like a rock star to me. I’m sure she’s quite proud of her daughter.

    1. Thank you. It takes a special person to do what you do for those families. Your support must be a gift to them as they face unimaginable obstacles with their children. It reminds me a quote I love.

      “Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” – Unknown

  8. Oh my dear Sunshine, you turned on the tears this time. To be so privileged to know your mom and with all this, to always see her with a smile and open arms to give a hug. Truly an amazing woman!!!!

    1. Sunshine, my mom is definitely amazing. After all she’s been through, she never hesitates to try and brighten someone’s day or lend a helping hand. I’m blessed to have had such a great example in her.

  9. A powerfully thought provoking perspective from a little twist we don’t imagine. What a beautifully heart wrenching letter… or should I say piece of a heart!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy my writing. It’s always nice to hear that from someone other than my family. 😉 There’s been a delay with the book cover. I’ll post an update when I know when it will be published. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you. Mental illness is everyone’s battle, not just the person with the diagnosis. It affects everyone around them who love them and want to see them happy and healthy. I am in awe of how my mom has dealt with all of it through the years.

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