Mommies, Moms & Mothers
I was born into the arms of a real woman. She was strong, beautiful, and willing to submit herself to what she calls the pleasure of being a good wife and of raising good children. Of course, the “realness” of a woman is not purely tied to the attributes and priorities of the previous sentence. Still, her strength, beauty, and devotion to her family are uncontrived, authentic expressions of who she is. Living outside of these would make her an impostor. Say what you will, at the end of her life my Mother will have become exactly who she is. Smart. Secure. Powerful. No pretense. No regrets. She had options, to be sure. Many of them. Ultimately, and without coercion from her husband, she reasoned—both logically and instinctively—that being a wife and mother was her highest calling. She was not one to impose this calling on other families or other women. She didn’t preach a hard line on roles in the home. She just got up, brushed her teeth, took out her curlers, put on her lipstick and owned what she believed to be the greatest privileges the world would offer her— building a home and raising a family.
When I was a young boy there was a seemingly clinical provability to the power her kiss had over the pain of a bumped head or a scraped knee. When she licked her thumb there was no smear, stain, or dried condiment on a child’s face that could stand up to her. I remember the calming, conciliatory strength of her hand on my knee when I was about to have a meltdown during a wedding, funeral, or in church. If I go way back I can remember her reading “Little House In The Big Woods” or “Farmer Boy” at my bedside. Her voice brought an accentuating quality to those stories far beyond the content of the original writings. She was a Mommy of the highest order.
As the years grew longer so did I. I was one of those freakazoid kids who developed early. Six feet tall in the seventh grade. One of her roles became akin to someone who feeds livestock for a living. Except she only had one animal….who lived upstairs…running through tubes of Clearasil….and eating our family into poverty. Every morning before school for the six years of middle school and high school she woke up before dawn and prepared:
8 biscuit style cinnamon rolls
4 scrambled eggs,
1 mound of sausage and/or bacon,
Every morning I ate every last crumb of it. Yes, the entire pan of cinnamon rolls. Before every athletic event she prepared pasta, chicken, and steamed vegetables for my pregame meals. All of this said, she wasn’t a maid or a cook. And, I wasn’t some special case in our house. It was, and she will tell you to this day, her joy to offer herself to all of her family in this way. Sometimes she would read the Bible to me while I ate my “Gaston” breakfast. Some mornings I was warm to the idea. Others, I was too cool for it. But, I was always listening. She was Mom royalty.
Children grow up and make wings for themselves. As I, along with my brother and sister, have become an adult, she too has grown into the distinguished matriarch of our family. Life has taken all of us far from home at times. Her door is always open. Her beds are always warm and grandchild-ready. Her table always primed for a gathering, for conversation, for laughter. She has moved naturally between the seasons of raising babies, lovingly managing teenagers, gratefully observing and being available to adult children. Her prayers have been like a steady breeze through these seasons. Sometimes fierce, sometimes gentle. Always powerful. Say what you will in this day of distractions, she knew herself and knew her calling. That knowledge has enabled her to grow older in peace. And, it has brought her to the greatest accomplishment a person can achieve—the ability to love. A thousand other dreams have died in the shadow of this one great, stunning triumph. My Mother can indeed love.
To all of you Mommies, Moms, and Mothers out there. May your relationships to your children bring you great joy. May they lead you to the highest reward, the ability to truly love.
Happy Mother’s Day.
May 6th, 2021