“A mother understands what a child does not say” – unknown
It’s Mother’s Day today, 13 May 2012. Hopefully it’s not the only day we take the time to be thankful for the work, care, love, compassion, and tears that our mothers have poured into our lives. But it is a day set aside for that purpose.
I think when I was a kid I didn’t understand Mother’s Day all that well. At least, I didn’t grasp the magnitude. I’ve written many times in the past about the superhero idolizing I did in regards to my father. The same is true of my mother, particularly in regards to Mother’s Day. It never really dawned on me as a child to be grateful for everything she did – that’s just who she was. “Of course Mom does all of this hard work to take care of us, but it’s not hard for her – she’s ‘Mom’ – a superhero. It’s easy for her – she’s invincible.”
Mothers may take this as a slight from those ungrateful rug-rats, but it’s not. They idolize you. They see an indomitable, unbreakable spirit in you. The answer to fears and hurts and all the absolutely critical problems that face a 6-year-old, or a 10-year-old, or a 15-year-old … somehow Mom has it. “She was just born with it, I guess.”
They don’t figure it out until much later. I suppose I should saywe don’t figure it out until much later. And by “we” I mean all of us. We all have mothers. I seriously doubt any of us were able at a young age to grasp the weight of it all, the magnificent glory and sacrifice that is motherhood – but we put it together soon enough.
I think for me the “putting it together” has come from having children of my own. My wife stays at home with them, just as my mother did. I never realized until now just what a challenge it all could be. Refereeing fights over toys, wiping bottoms and snotty noses, feeding, cleaning, feeding again (my boys caneat), teaching, cuddling, loving, kissing, and just managing the whole of the day – a single day – is a massive and daunting task.
And the payoffs? Well, they sure don’t do it so they can have a big, celebratory Mother’s Day. No, the payoffs are more subtle than that. Blink and you might miss ’em, but they’re there, and they’re big if you know what you’re looking for. It’s a smile, a cuddle, a little boy that says “I love you” (or, as my two-year-old mumbles it “wuff-oo”). In my house it’s three boys piling onto and around Mommy to snuggle and eat some popcorn or goldfish (I said they could eat, right?) and perhaps catch a TV show as they’re waking up from naps and easing back into the day. Those are the times, man, those are the good things. Those are the glimpses and moments that erase all the frustration from the rest of the day. In an instant, in a whisper carried away by the wind – in the blink of an eye – the effort vanishes from view and the joy pours out uncontainable. Was it worth it? Yeah, it was worth it.
So to my Mom I say “thank you.” I won’t rattle off the litany of things, the comprehensive representation of everything you did (and put up with) for me. I’d probably only get 10% of it anyway – you were invincible, you see, and it’s sometimes hard to separate that from childhood memories. You were there, and I’m sure you remember travails far better than I would be able to express. But I get it. I do.
And to my wife, I also say “thank you” – and, by the way, wow, just wow. I’m impressed. And you know me well enough to know that I don’t impress easy.
You’ve given me four little boys: the Angel, the Thinker, the Lover, and the Fighter. And they are a wonderful lot and a thing to behold. It is a bold and daunting undertaking and grand adventure. It is a worthy challenge – worthy of the greatness that you have in you. And you do it very well.
… Love …