Sunday Column: A warm welcome to the mommy club.

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Coming Home: Wait is over to celebrate Mother’s Day as a mom

by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

Long before I became a mom, I often heard the phrase “You just wait” from other parents. While well-meaning, it was an expression that made me cringe for a few reasons. Besides the fact that it made me feel like I was being set aside to a place they put people who couldn’t possibly get it, it made me want to scream, “I am waiting! I’ve been waiting for years!”

“You’ll understand when you have kids of your own.” That was another one.

It was never really clear, the mystical thing that I was to understand. If I could just get it together enough to have a kid already, I could finally know what I desperately needed to know.

I’m sorry. I’m sounding sarcastic. I haven’t been sleeping.

I think that’s one of those things I couldn’t have possibly understood.

OK, I get it now.

This year I will celebrate my first Mother’s Day with a baby of our own in our house (and in my arms and in my car and in the bathtub and in her carrier walking with me across the cow pastures) and I can’t help but notice that over the past five months it’s felt like I’ve become a part of this big, new and welcoming club.


My Sister-in-law, who is busy raising my three nieces. She sent us home yesterday with five big bins of girl clothes. God bless her.

I walk through the grocery store with the baby strapped to my chest, wiggling and drooling and smiling at the stranger in the dairy aisle who smiles back. “Two teeth already! How old is she? Wow, that’s early! My son didn’t get teeth until he was almost a year. He’s 21 now. They grow so fast …”

And we stop there, holding our milk cartons, feeling compelled for some numinous reason to share with one another our most intimate birth story, the struggles we had or didn’t have with feeding, the joy of the first smile and ugh, the sleepless nights, the stranger so eager to reflect and relay, and me, a new mom, hungry to know that I’m not alone in the joy and, more importantly, the challenge.

“She’s precious,” she says. And I beam with pride as I move on to the cereal.

Working men in muddy boots push past us with carts full of chips, burgers and pop. One stops to take a peek at my baby’s chubby cheeks. His daughter is 3 and back home in Tennessee. Before I had Edie I would say, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be away from her.” Now my heart breaks for him.

Until five months ago I only understood motherhood from the perspective of having one. And I have a great one. One of the best. But I always thought she worried too much. I’ve been telling her that since I was a little girl. Don’t worry, Mom. Don’t worry!


Now I know what an impossible demand I was making on her as I pulled on my boots and went out into this big, sharp and dangerous world, my little sister trailing behind me.

Asking her not to worry was like asking her not to breathe. I get it now, Mom. I haven’t stopped worrying since the moment I found out I was pregnant. And when I’m done writing this I’m ordering Edie a full-body helmet.

Because the big, sharp world is dangerous, yes, but now I get to watch my baby discover it, and I think I might have taken for granted what a gift it is to have hands that can touch and eyes that can see and a voice that can laugh at the wonder of it all.

Apparently with all this motherly worry comes waves of overwhelming gratefulness.

Yes, they told me I’ll understand when I have kids of my own and, finally, here I am discovering what being a mother means to me.

And while the birth of my daughter has somehow given me a big happy welcome into this warm and open club of parenthood, after such a big discovery, this Mother’s Day I don’t have anything more profound to say than this:

Thank you, Mom, for worrying.

Thank you, Baby, for being born.

And to all the mothers-in-waiting, may your children find you.



A letter to my baby on Mother’s Day

Maternity Haze B&W

Dear Baby Girl,

The night before you came into this world, I lay in bed and put my hand on my big, swollen belly, closed my eyes and cried in the dark. I was trying to hold on to what it felt like to have you kicking and stretching the limbs of your tiny body inside my body, safe and sound. It was a miracle I didn’t think I would ever know.

In a few short hours you would be born, and, if all went well, a dream would come true for your dad and me. That dream was you.

And so I cried at the anticipation of it all. I was nervous and scared and excited to meet you. And I cried for all the suffering and loss we experienced to get to this moment. The moment before your birth.

Last night I lay awake again in the dark in the room next to yours where you slept in your crib. You’re still sleeping there this morning as the sun rises and wakes up the ranch where generations of our family has grown. You used to sleep in my belly, then in my arms, then in the bassinet beside my bed and now you’re a wall away. Time does things like that to us.

Slowly it moves us.

Stretches us.

Grows us up.

In a few days I will celebrate my first Mother’s Day with you, my baby, and I suddenly feel this overwhelming need to tell you some things about what it means to me to be your mother.

I had the same feeling the first night we spent together in the hospital room while your dad lay sleeping on the couch next to us. The lights were low and the room was still and I cradled you in the nook of my arm, foggy and worn out from the task of bringing you into the world. I wanted to grab a pen and write down everything I was feeling in that moment, to capture the flood of emotions that swarmed around us. But instead I just sang to you, every song I could think of that you might recognize from spending nine months behind my guitar.

I wondered if you would be a singer. I wondered who you looked like and if you would have blue eyes or brown and if you would ride horses, but I stopped wondering then if I could do this. I looked at you and the way you calmed as I hummed to you through my tears and I knew we were made for each other.

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Now, when I close my eyes and try to sleep at night, I sometimes replay the first moment I saw you. You opened your eyes and looked right into mine as the nurse laid you on my chest, your mouth opening wide and closing again, searching for food, ready to live, and I thought, “Of course! She is fierce! I told you all she was!”

I knew it from those constant kicks and punches you gave me while you grew inside me. They were such a gift, a signal that you were alive and growing.

Thank you baby, for being so strong. That’s what I wanted to tell you then. I needed you to be strong because I was scared of losing you.

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Last week your grampa watched me walk across the pasture with you strapped to my chest, facing out so you could see the green grass, feel the spring breeze and watch the dogs run ahead. You were kicking your legs, reaching for the sky and smiling wide, and he said “She’s the perfect baby for you isn’t she?”

Yes. Yes you are. I’ve said it all along.

Baby girl, you are so young but you’ve had such a profound impact on our existence here. We made you, together, your dad and I. And we’ve loved each other for so long that we’ve become intertwined, our happiness and sadness woven together so tightly that sometimes we don’t know whose heart is whose. And you will become the best and worst parts of us.

Chad and Jessie Maternity 5 B&W

We’ve always wondered what that would look like and now you’re showing us every day.

You have my eyes, and his light hair, my round cheeks and his long fingers, but you are so uniquely you.

And time will tell us if you are as brave as him or as silly as me. And we might hear you singing at the top of your lungs to the trees or run to your side when you crashed to the ground, discovering that the cape you constructed didn’t help you fly. We have so much ahead of us Baby Girl.


But right now you’re starting to stir in your crib. I will walk in to pick you up and you will smile and snuggle into my chest. I will kiss your cheeks and we will start another day together as mother and child. And we will do it all again the next day and the next until time, as it always does, slowly grows you up and turns me into an old woman.

But today, Baby Girl, you are so full of wonder, the purest form of human, fresh and soft and so much alive and I get the pleasure of watching your life unfold. And you make me so grateful.

And as you grow you will learn to spend this day thanking me for giving you life, for rocking you and teaching you and bringing you the lunch that you forgot, and I tell you now before you can comprehend, Baby, “Of course, of course. I will do anything for you. “

Yes, you will have plenty of these days to thank me, but today, on our first Mother’s Day, I thank you.

You made me a mom Baby, and I’m so happy to be yours.





Sunday Column: On Mother’s Day.

My momma and me, the day we first met.

Long time followers of “Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” may have seen this before, but I wanted to share it again this Mother’s Day because it’s important to remember to celebrate the special women in our lives for all that they are.

Happy Mother’s Day to my momma and to all the mommas out there who share the best parts of themselves with their children.

Coming Home: Imagining mom before she was mom
By Jessie Veeder Scofield
Fargo Forum
Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Momma’s Day!

I love my momma.

There she is after giving me life.

There I am on about my tenth minute out in the world. I’m looking a bit concerned..but she’s smiling.

That smile is a miraculous site knowing now that I was a whole month late–and I haven’t been on time for anything since.

You would have thought she would have given up on me.

But my momma never gives up. Pair that with the fact that she’s beautiful, caring, energetic, kind, funny, crazy, has a sexy shoe collection and knows how to throw a party, and you can understand why I want to be like her in all those ways when I grow up.

I’m working really hard on that shoe-collection part…

Love you mom!

Re-visit all the reasons why here: She chose us

She chose us

I like to imagine my mother before I knew her–before she became a mom for the first time to my big sister and wife to my father. I like to imagine her long straight hair, jeans that hugged her ballerina legs, her high heels clicking along the pavement on her way to a job she was damn good at, her tan skin on elegant arms that opened out wide to the world.

Because it was those open arms that brought me into my world. A world with gravel roads, cattle grazing in the yard, clay buttes, children on horses and neighbors who lived miles a way. A world I am certain this beauty queen who used to twirl and spin in satin dresses on stages never pictured herself in.

I like to imagine her this way, young and in love and willing to sacrifice the life between city streets, the life she was familiar with, for a man in a band with wild, black hair wearing a suit with cowboy boots and looking displaced in that city where they met–ready to bust out at the polyester seams, saddle his horse and ride out on the interstate toward home.

I like to imagine him, my father before he was my father, enamored  by this woman with quiet confidence, natural beauty and an aversion to practical shoes. A woman who was like no other woman he had ever met, who was fine on her own raising a beautiful daughter, but might be convinced, if treated with the kindness and respect that she deserved, to go with him.

Go with him to live in this wild space, a space that I imagine has always been under appreciative of a woman so refined and polished and poised. A space that required more practical shoes.

I like to picture that she pulled on her boots and listened to her new husband’s dreams of cattle and horses while she searched for work, taught dance classes in the nearby small town, had two more daughters and raised them in a landscape so far from the sidewalks and movie theaters and restaurants of her youth.

But she never complained. At least I have never heard it. And out here surrounded by snakes and trees and creeks and buttes and big blue sky my mother watched her daughters grow and get their hands dirty and tangle their fuzzy hair in the wind. She cheered them on at small town rodeos, tended to broken arms, made makeshift habitats for pet turtles in her roasting pan, gave advice on cheerleading moves, helped with 4-H projects and bought them pretty shoes, no matter the dirt and mud they insisted on dragging into the house on our boots.

And while she drove one with ballerina aspirations to lessons 75 miles away, sent one to ride horses and sing her songs on stage and  scheduled the other for basketball and volleyball camps around the state, I imagine her grabbing little pieces of her heart and spirit and handing them quietly off to her daughters…

Her pointed toes, blue eyes, poise, gentle nature and quiet beauty slipped to her oldest in her mug filled with hot chocolate on her way out the door.

The honesty, determination, quick wit, strength and social graces that exist within my mother flew out of her mouth and attached to her youngest during an argument about boyfriends or clothes or parties with friends.

And to her middle daughter, a daughter who in her younger days was convinced that she had nothing in common with the woman who gave birth to her, she gave a gift of gentle touches, encouragement, belief in wild dreams and understanding of untamed emotions. But most of all her sacrifice, her perseverance, tolerance and acceptance of a world she had to grow to understand and appreciate has been her greatest gift to me…the gift of a home on the landscape I will always belong to.

That, and an affection for impractical shoes.

But for all that she’s given, all of the sacrifices she has made through winters at the ranch that seemed to have lasted years, through snakes and skunks making their way into her home, through thankless jobs, burned tuna casseroles, drought and dust storms, drained bank accounts and children who just won’t listen, my mother has held on to the best parts of herself:

The beauty queen parts, the wine connoisseur, hilarious loon interpreter and graceful selflessness parts. The life of the party, the fashionista, giver of the most thoughtful gifts, Christmas loving, sun seeker, tasteful, best friend in the world parts. The big sister, the caring daughter, the understanding wife parts. The organized and impeccably clean and always prepared (even when 30 miles away from the nearest grocery store) parts.

The parts of her that have always known what is best for her family. Best for her daughters.

So, yes, I like to imagine my mother before I knew her, before she was my mother. I like to imagine her with all of that love to give, all of that joy, all of those dreams and talents with the world at her delicate fingertips.

And then give thanks that she chose this life. Of all of the things and people she could have belonged to, all of the places she could have laid her heart down, she chose to lay it  here.

She chose us.

And we are the luckiest.

Happy Mother’s Day momma.

Love you as wide as this prairie sky we live under…as wide as your arms reach.