My mother has told me the story a million times. I was only a couple of days old and asleep in my room. Laying in her own bed, my mother was worried about how quiet I was. What if I had stopped breathing?
Then she decided that if I had died, she would need her rest to deal with it. She rolled over and went back to sleep.
My mother was clear from the beginning. I might have been an important planet, but I was not the entirety of her universe. As an only child and the eldest grandchild, there were many adults in my life that doted on me and catered to my every whim.
My mother was not one of them.
When I bemoaned the fact that one of my high school girlfriends was "best friends" with her mom, my mother looked at me matter-of-factly and said, "I've got plenty of friends. I don't need anymore. You're my daughter."
As I grew into an adult, I realized what a gift my mother's approach had been. Being the center of anyone's universe is a big burden for a child. I never felt pressure growing up to please my mother or take care of her. I knew she was more than capable of taking care of herself.
Also, understanding that needs exist outside your own is an essential part of becoming a mature and responsible adult. I'm so grateful that it was my mother teaching me this lesson from a young age. She loved me. She had my best interests at heart. I've seen friends learn this lesson farther down the path to adulthood. They are taught by bosses and coworkers and spouses, none of which were as nice about it as my mother.
However, since becoming a mother five years ago, I've realized that my mother was not only teaching me how to be an adult -- she was also teaching me how to be a parent.
It is far too easy, especially within the confines of modern parenthood, to sacrifice everything at the alter of motherhood. I love my sons with ferociousness that takes my breath away. I want to give them everything, to protect them from everything, to teach them everything.
But I can't.
I have to take care of myself. I have to nurture the other relationships in my life. I have to keep exploring the universe, even if they are my favorite planet.
My mother taught me that.