In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re interviewing our moms to find out how their lives changed when we were born and what they learned about love and life as a parent. Today, Annika’s mom.
My mom and dad knew each other when they were growing up in Barbuda, an island in the Caribbean. They didn’t get along, but as they became older, a romance blossomed when they both lived in NYC. My grandmother helped my dad become a U.S. citizen, and he was a part of the family before he and my mom married in 1979. I was born soon after, but my parents divorced after two or three years. Although I know my dad and spent time with him throughout my childhood, I have to say that it was my mom who did the day-to-day raising of me. She supported my creativity with dance and art lessons and taught me to develop my own opinions, even when my opinions caused me to get detention every day. That’s why she and I have had this attitude that it’s us against the world. My mom is my best friend and she’s usually the person I prefer to talk to before everyone else. She’s my sounding board and gives great hugs. But that’s not to say we don’t argue.
I know pretty much all there is to know about my mom’s past, but I was still curious to ask her about being pregnant and raising me, her only child. Did you always know you wanted to be a mom?
Yes. I always played with dolls and babysat other people’s babies. And I was a very bossy child. I thought I was everyone’s mother. My most favorite moment of my childhood was when my niece Courtenay was born. I took the same sister to the hospital when she had her second child. And I was her birthing coach when she had her twins.
How was your life different before you had me?
Well, when you babysit, you can give the kid back, but when it’s yours, you have to keep it. It took me a few months to realize no one was coming to get you. When my nieces would spend the night with me, we would do fun things and then they’d go home. It was a gradual realization that I was the only one responsible for you. Well, your dad was there, but we’re talking about mothers. Basically, before you were born, I could go wherever I wanted when I wanted to. I didn’t have to look for a babysitter. But on the other hand, there was this one little person who loved me unconditionally. You used to gaze at me adoringly. And you were damn cute!
What were your fears about becoming a mother?
Being responsible for a whole other life. Making sure that you were healthy, that you ate, that no one hurt you. I worried about SIDS, I worried about diaper rash, I worried about everything. We went to the doctor for your first checkup and the elevator doors almost closed on your head. And I realized that could have killed you. You were this fragile little thing. I was also afraid I wouldn’t do a good job; that you’d grow up to be a bum.
What did you think when you found out you were pregnant with me?
I was happy. You were planned. It was relatively easy. But I also thought that if my sister could have twins in two hours, then it would only take me one hour. I was very surprised at how long I was in labor — 15 hours! And I was surprised at how much it hurt.
Do you have any regrets about how you raised me?
No. I did my best and I’m proud of the person you are, so obviously I did a good job. There have definitely been more joys than pain. I like you on the whole. I like the person you are, although, I might not agree with you all the time. Sometimes I look at you and think: “Where the hell did whatever you said come from?”
Was there ever a moment when you wanted to kill me?
Of course there were. Everyday between ages 17-and-a-half and 19. I could have killed you a couple of times when you were 12, too, because you lost your mind. I still loved you. Usually, you came to your senses. Right before I was about to go after you, you’d apologize.