In 2006, I was working as a reporter for the Olds Albertan weekly newspaper. I loved the job and enjoyed covering the community’s news but when Mother’s Day rolled around I was reminded of another job I loved. I wrote about that love as an editorial for the paper in May 2006. Ten years later I published it on a previous version of my website. I’ve republished it here:
A Mother’s Day retrospective
Photo and text by Faye Bayko
My 19-year-old son and I were standing in a lineup at a Red Deer Tim Hortons about two weeks ago when I felt his arm wrap around my neck, pulling me back against him, and a light kiss placed on the top of my head. It was a quick embrace but it brought a warm smile to my lips and caught the attention of an older couple standing in the parallel lineup. My smile brightened in silent answer to theirs. “Yes, he’s mine and I raised him well,” I thought.
With Mother’s Day approaching, memories of moments such as the one in Timmy’s flood back and remind me of why I chose to become one and the double-edged lessons that choice brought into my life.
Back in 1985 I knew my life would be changed forever when I decided to become pregnant but I had no idea how different I would become because of the inclusion of this new person in my life. First off, I wasn’t prepared for a male child. I was convinced I was carrying a daughter and expressed that conviction at every medical appointment, ignoring the knowing, sympathetic glances of the ultrasound techs. (This was when ultrasound imaging was still viewed with caution, and before pre-birth photos were handed out like party favours.)
I didn’t want a son. I didn’t follow sports and had no interest in freezing in various arenas around the province while encouraging my child’s participation in one of the popular Alberta blood sports. Besides, the male children of my friends always seemed so undisciplined. No. I was having a girl. She would grow up doing rhythmic gymnastics or some similarly artistic activity, we would attend cultural events such as the symphony, and we would be best friends.
Then Chris was born and all those expectations went out the window. I was lost. What was I going to do with this bundle of male energy? I loved him, there was no doubt about that, but I had no idea what to do with him.
The first six months were tough as I adjusted to the physical demands of having a baby and the emotional impact of not having a girl. I found it hard to walk by baby girl sections of department stores and I tried not to stare longingly at bows and ribbons. But, as I watched my son’s personality emerge I began to realize that I had the child I’d always dreamed of, it had just decided to come in a male package.
As we traveled through the next 18 years together he helped me learn who I was. He was a mirror of my weaknesses and my strengths, helping me correct the former and build on the latter.
And, it was because he was a male that he was able to show me what the role of mother meant to a gender that could never be one.
And through him I revisited my relationship with my mother. I was able to see the challenges and choices she faced while raising me and my siblings, and I was able to find a way to reconnect with her through the shared experience of being proud to be a mom.