On August 5, 1989 I became a mother to Anna Esther Reid. Two weeks early, she arrived the day after I stopped working, knowing that I’d have at least two weeks to nest before our baby came. We didn’t know if our baby was a boy or girl until the moment she was delivered. Anna completely turned my world upside down. I’d alway wanted children, and had suffered two miscarriages prior to her birth. She was a longed for little girl. Secretly, I was glad she was a girl.I didn’t have a sister and really wanted a girl. I knew Will really wanted a boy, so I figured at that point I had my girl and maybe we’d get a boy the next time. I babysat often as a teenager and loved children. I thought the transition to motherhood would be smooth and easy for me. I was a competent professional woman and felt quite certain I’d be good at mothering.
I labored for 13 hours with Anna, only to end up having an emergency C-section at the end. She was sunny side up and wasn’t budging. The minutes and hours after she was born, I remember feeling overwhelmed and unsure. My body hurt and my hormones were going crazy. I wanted my mother not my husband, and I didn’t want to be left alone. What if something happened and I didn’t know what to do?
I know now that I was beginning to experience a bad case of postpartum depression that would go untreated and unmedicated for almost 15 years. In the moment, I just thought I was going crazy and I was terrified. We laugh as a family now at how badly I overprotected Anna. If she was asleep I worried that she should be awake, and if she was awake I worried that she should be asleep. My parents lived in town the first 18 months of her life and I wouldn’t let her spend the night with them. My mother has a letter I wrote her the first time I let Anna go to their home in Florida alone. Page after page of safety instructions about how to properly buckle the car seat, pool rules, and what she needed to eat and drink. When to put her down for a nap and what time she went to sleep at night. I honestly wish she’d thrown it away. It pains me to see how afraid I was.
Anna survived me, and on July 30, 1991 Caroline Smith Reid was born. Do the math. They weren’t quite two years apart. Caroline was born via scheduled C-section 10 days before her due date. I wan’t going to do that whole labor and then have a C-section thing again. She had colic and cried for almost six months. When she stopped crying, she was anxious and afraid and didn’t want to be away from me. I carried her in a Snugli on my chest almost 24 hours a day. I know I’m dating myself. A Snugli is what we used to carry our babies in before Boba’s and Moby’s. They weren’t cute and they weren’t comfortable, but she didn’t cry as much or as hard if she was in it, so I wore her for six months.
On August 26, 1993 Frances Singleton Reid was born via scheduled C-section. She and Caroline were almost 25 months apart, so I had a newborn, a two year old and a four year old. Frances was happy and cheerful and extremely flexible. Which was good because she rarely napped in her bed, and if she did I often had to wake her to pick up Anna from Kindergarten. She snoozed like a champ in her car seat. I had loosened up by the time Frances arrived. Sometimes she napped in the minivan in the garage with the windows rolled down so that I didn’t have to get her out and put her back in for the next school pick up time.
Fast forward 21 years. Anna is 25 and lives in north Alabama with her husband Brad. Caroline’s 23 and in graduate school and lives here in Greenville with her husband Matthew, and Frances is 21 and finishing her undergraduate degree in December. She just moved back home for the summer and is doing a summer internship for school.
Ya’ll, these girls. I can’t even begin to express how precious they are and what a privilege it is to be their mother. Thankfully they don’t remember all the rookie mistakes I made as a young mom, and they continue to give me grace and love when I make mistakes now. They are crazy fun and joyful and resourceful and honest and authentic. Parenting older children, especially married ones, has brought a new set of challenges and I’m still figuring much of it out. Becoming a mom was literally the first time I put someone else ahead of myself. It required a selflessness that I didn’t even know I was capable of. Being a mother has changed me more than anything else I’ve ever done. It’s caused me to examine my motives, lean heavily on the Lord, and continually practice giving them up to Him. I am blessed beyond measure to be their mom. I love these girls more than words could every say. They delight me.