Mom and Dad, by the way.

by Claudia Ravaldi

“Mom” and “dad”: how beautiful these words, full of love and meaning, among the first words we say as children.

And how happy we parents are when we hear them uttered for the first time by our babies: seeing our children grow and make progress is a source of tremendous satisfaction for us as parents, who cuddle them from their first moments of life. And then when our children really start talking, how often do we hear those two words: mom and dad. “Mom, I did this; Dad, I did that. Where’s Mom, where’s Dad! Mom, Mom, Dad.” And every time, we parents, ready, present there to protect our children: at their every call, we rush eagerly to help them. And how many times, too, we can’t stand those two words and those continuous, incessant screams: especially after a stormy day, full of work and commitments, after yet another workday full of anxiety and a thousand thoughts in our heads, when we would just like to go home, lie down on the couch and rest in silence. When you’re just about to fall asleep on the couch after a stressful day and you hear yet another “Mommyaaa, Daddyaaa!” But how beautiful are those two words. We often forget that.

But who is a mom? And who is a daddy? There is no definition; it would be too reductive.

Perhaps one word can express what mom and dad are: Love.

The love of mom and dad is unparalleled: for a child, parents are everything; they are his two guides, his safe haven. As long as mom and dad are around, everything will be fine, because of mom and dad’s love the child faces all his fears.

And similarly, can one classify what a Son is? Again, one definition alone would not be enough, it would be too reductive; but again there is one word that can indicate what a child is: Love.

Not surprisingly, a child is born out of the love felt by its parents.

My husband and I are also mom and dad, we are someone’s love. We are mom and dad of Alexander, or as we called him “Bean.”

Alexander was our love: the nine months he spent inside my belly were wonderful, unforgettable. How many kicks and punches he used to unleash in my belly: we would have definitely enrolled him on some athletic team, because of how much he moved with those muscular legs and those little feet so small, but so strong.

Alexander was born one summer evening. When he was born, his daddy and I could not hold him tightly in our arms: the birth had been too difficult for him and unfortunately his condition was critical. Right from the start, the doctors warned us that our little one would not make it, would not have too many days to live. When you get such news, mixed emotions begin to coexist in you: despair, panic, a desire to smash everything, to scream, a feeling that you are just living a nightmare. “Soon you will wake up and see that Alexander is still kicking inside your belly, strong and sturdy as ever,” you tell yourself. But unfortunately, you never wake up; the nightmare goes on forever.

Mom and Dad gave Alexander, in the time that he remained alive, all the love in the world. They were by his side every moment, cuddling him even though he was never conscious, lying on that crib full of wires and machinery that beeped every moment. Alexander lived on Mom and Dad’s love for three weeks, then stopped struggling, our hands in his to accompany him on his final journey. When his heart stopped beating, he was in his mother’s arms. Alexander died on July 11, 2023.

Alexander’s mom and dad will not see him grow up, will not hear his first words, his laughter, will not hear that “mom and dad” repeated over and over again to the point of exhaustion. What they were able to do was only to pass on so much love to him during his pregnancy and accompany him on his final journey on earth. Alexander was their love. How many things “mom” and “dad” would have done for him.

But then, if Alexander’s mom and dad did not have the opportunity to see him grow up and spend more time with him, are they less of a parent? Are they less mom and dad? Many, too many times this question runs through their thinking. Is she still a mom, is she still a dad if she doesn’t have my child physically with her? If he lost it? Often you are not considered a parent if you no longer have a child; often it is society itself that no longer considers you as a parent. You won’t attend school meetings with other parents, you won’t experience parental chatter on the way out of school as they wait for their children. You will not do anything that a mom and dad usually do. You will never be a traditional mom and dad. You will not be considered father and mother in the eyes of others. “You will see when you have children, you can’t understand it now because you don’t have a child.” How many times Alexander’s mom and dad hear this. “Then it’s time for another one, you don’t want to be childless!” But they had a son, they loved him during pregnancy, she gave birth to him, and they accompanied him to his death.

But then am I, Alexander’s mom, less of a mom? Am I, Alexander’s dad, less of a dad if I can’t drive him to school or to a running race or if I can’t bake him a birthday cake for his 18th birthday?

No. Because you are a mom and you are a dad, even though Alexander is gone now. You are, and you will continue to be. You will caress him with your thoughts, give him a hug whenever you feel the need. Because your Alexander, your love, will always be there beside you. Because you become a parent the very moment the idea of Alexander began to exist, the very moment you hear his heart beating for the first time, see him and feel him inside you.

But then what are mom and dad? Simply Love, with a capital A. Love in happiness and love in sadness, love in accompanying one’s child through every nuance of life.

The award for the youngest runner will therefore be given today in the name of Alessandro Amadori Maimonte, our little love.

We ask you moms and dads here to be “moms and dads,” to be Love with a capital A.

And to you children, I ask you today to run as fast as you can and run free for Alexander.

These words are for Alexander, for his parents, and for all those parents who have been and continue to be moms and dads of children who left us too soon.

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