Mothers. Whether we came to be by conscious choice or accidental circumstance, none of us would be here without them. We literally owe them our lives. Being a mother is the toughest job in the world; it’s mostly thankless and unappreciated, and it never ends. A hundred year old woman will look at her eighty year old child and think, “That’s my baby.”
Not all mothers are created equal though. Certainly there are those who, for whatever reason, probably shouldn’t ever had children. Society tends to push women toward being mothers, whether they want to or not. Stories of neglected and abused children abound, I’m sorry to say, but I think the vast majority of mothers love their children and do their best. They’re not perfect by any means, but they try. And what more can anyone ask? It’s not like the job comes with a manual, despite the myriad of books written on the subject.
We need our mothers, even as we strive to be independent. The toddler’s, “I can do it myself!” The teenager’s, “I’m not a baby anymore!” and the adult’s condescending, “Yes, mother, I know,” as they ignore well-intended advice, are illusions of independence. When things get tough, our inner child screams, “I want my mommy!” because Mommy could always make it better.
Most of us don’t really appreciate our mothers until we become parents ourselves. All the sacrifices she made for us, and even all the disagreements, were because she loved us. If we’re lucky, we realize this while we’re still able to thank Mom and tell her how much she’s loved. If we’re really lucky, we’re able to not only tell her, but show her, not just on Mother’s Day, but all year long.
I was blessed with the best mother anyone could ask for. She wasn’t perfect, and she did things that drove me crazy sometimes, but I never once doubted that she loved me. She always put her family first. She loved with her whole heart and was generous to a fault. My mother didn’t care about gifts; she really preferred giving to receiving them. She told me I was beautiful. She told me she was proud of me. She shared my teenage poetry with her friends and, when I first had a short story published, she wouldn’t let the visiting nurse leave her house until she’d read it. She told me I was a good mother, even when I thought I was terrible at the job. She told me she loved me every time we spoke, and showed her love in more ways than I can count.
This year marks the fifteenth Mother’s Day since she passed away. I can’t call or visit or send flowers, no matter how much I wish I could, but she lives in my heart with all the lessons she taught me and the love she gave so freely. I see her when I look in the mirror or in the faces of my own daughters. Sometimes she visits my dreams and I wake feeling the joy of being enveloped in one of her bone-crushing hugs. Not a day passes that I don’t talk to her. She is always with me.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there.
Thank you for taking on the hardest job in the universe.
And even if we don’t say it enough, we love you!