My Mom, My Very First Gift

Amy Challenger essays

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The voice of my mother soars through cellphone towers, taps into words on the internet, shines through lighted white dreams, or dances from upstairs in our guest bedroom on a golden spring morning.

Her voice is like no other sound in my universe.

It breaks through all concepts of time, old age, of youth even—clinging to me, wrapping my soul in the velvet truth that I am not just Amy, a forty-five-year-old tired mom. But I am more. I am the child of my mom. I came here through her, and long ago she carried me, and she looked at me with hope. She held my neck so that it wouldn’t break, she fed me, and she sang to me. I don’t get to hear her sing very often anymore, because we are busy maybe, but still her voice often sounds joyful, like a sweet song would— joyful to hear my voice.

My mom smells like violets, silk, and lilly-of-the-valley. When I was running yesterday, I saw a large patch of these white bell-covered flowers, and suddenly my mom was there, cheering for me, “Way to go Amy. Way to go.” Those lovely white bells rang in the breeze, reminding me of picking them with her, of inhaling their sweetness, mixed with hot apples baking in a pie shell in our well-used kitchen. My mother’s scent reminds me that she is always near, and she is the same person whom I must have smelled before I knew how to put ink on the page, back when I was a tiny infant, snuggling in her warm skin.

I haven’t always been nice to my mom. She wouldn’t tell you that, but it is true. I have expected everything of her. I have demanded perfection, like I do of myself. I have been jealous of her attention. I was not (and maybe still am not) an easy daughter. I have often been an outspoken, rebellious, highly sensitive person. I have been dramatic, depressed, emotional, and I have never stopped pushing boundaries. Probably, I never will. I’m that grown-up girl who some moms might dread “managing.” I have not always been a “good” daughter.

But today I might call my mom when I’m driving to a class, and through Bluetooth, words like “love” and “proud” and “miss you,” fill the space of my long vehicle. It’s like she is riding next to me, steadying my hands, reminding me that though I am only imperfect me — I am part of another. I'm not just me. I'm my mom's child. My life isn’t easy, and there are challenges that she cannot solve, but I’m assured that there is one person out there, holding a spot for me. A spot bigger than the empty seat beside me— immeasurable, I suppose. It is a place in her heart that will be there for eternity. It will wait for me whether I raise three happy children, I publish award-winning novels, I paint a hundred famous paintings, or I become “nothing” at all.

Moms like mine will forever see the value in me, ignoring the flaws. Sometimes I have (snidely) called that “motherhood denial.” But now I see that thousands of days ago, I came from a place of hope and glistening magic — a place that believed my seed was worthy of life. That it could rise above “nothing” and could be born into this world to share “something” with all of you. I came from my mother. She was my very first gift. And so I celebrate her. She was a very good place to begin.


About the Author

Amy Challenger

Amy Aves Challenger is a writer, painter and mom of three children, one with special needs. When she isn't mothering, she is blogging on and or working on her first novel about a family's struggles and triumphs raising a child with special needs.

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May 2015 – Better Together
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