When a brand new mom holds her baby for the first time, there are often other, older women standing by with tears in their eyes.
The grandmas and aunties — and in my case the great grandmas — coo and giggle, and expertly take turns holding the precious new bundle.
For the first-time mom, those veteran tears seem to be of joy, and nostalgia for a time when these women too were new moms.
And those emotions are likely part of the reason for the waterworks.
But as a new mom transitions into more of a veteran mother — perhaps adding siblings to the mix — another interpretation of the tears of those older and wiser women forms.
Having raised children to adulthood, these older moms also know what is ahead for the newly-minted mom.
They foresee that there will be joy, love, laughs, and excitement — to be sure.
But raising children also brings overwhelming pain, fear, confusion and sometimes anger that can bring even the strongest parent to her knees.
There’s the not so serious, but soul-crushing moments of dropping a crying child off at daycare for the first time; there’s getting the call at work about a broken arm or misdeed.
There’s the picking up of a broken-hearted teen who didn’t make the team, was bullied, dumped or failed the test.
These are things that from the outside seem par for the course of parenting, but that are much harder to live close up.
There are accidents and mistakes — by child and the parent.
For many, there are more difficult twists and turns such as a child’s serious illness, custody battles, addiction or disclosures to comprehend and navigate.
There are questions you never thought you would have to answer and circumstances there is no answer for.
And through it all, societal, work and family expectations on a mom can weigh heavy.
All of this the mature mom knows as she watches the new mom holding her newborn.
Those glassy eyes of grandma, aunt, sister or friend who have walked ahead on the motherhood journey, reflect the understanding of the light and the dark that is motherhood.
Newer moms, take comfort in knowing that there are many who have walked this path before you and lived to tell the tale.
Know too, that whatever road motherhood takes you down, moms seem to always find the courage and the love to keep on keeping on.
For the veteran moms, we see you and we recognize all you have lived through and done for your children.
Bravo and thank you.
Happy Mother’s Day, all.