How do you describe the woman who gave you life? For most of us, this is a difficult question to answer. The relationship between mother and child is almost too intense to put into words. She is with you before you are born and she remains connected to you throughout your life. This bond is something that we don't think about much, but it's worth putting some time into. Consider this... the female fetus carries all the eggs that she will ever have in her lifetime. This means that while we, (ladies), were in our mothers' bellies, she was also carrying our future children (her future grandchildren) in her body. Crazy, right?!
Whether you have a positive or negative relationship with your mother doesn't really matter, the point is, that this connection is profound. I am one of the fortunate ones, who truly loves her mother. As I mentioned earlier, it's pretty hard to put this relationship into words, but I'm going to give it a whirl anyway!
Now that I'm a mother, I always wonder what my kids will remember. If you're a parent, you've probably wondered the same. Will they remember the hours you spent rocking them or the tantrums you endured? Will they remember the vacation you planned for months or the party you agonized over for weeks? Will they recall the cookies, cakes, and costumes you created? Will they remember how you cried when they got their first injury? Probably not, but they will remember things that you have long, since forgotten. Here are a few things that have stayed with me about my own Mom. For these memories, and millions more, she deserves to be honored on Mother's Day and every day...
I cried every day in preschool. I don't even know why, I just know that I hated it. Then one day, I found myself in a wonderful new school; I loved it from the moment I walked in! My Mom heard my cries and took action. I knew early on that she would never force me to stay somewhere that I felt unsafe.
When I was four, I almost drowned at a family picnic on a lake. My siblings were further out in the water and didn't see me fall down. I remember wearing a pale pink bathing suit with a ballerina skirt; I loved that bathing suit! I also remember being very scared and unable to stand up. The next thing I remember is seeing my Mom's panic-stricken face, feeling her arms, and knowing that I was now safe.
Around second grade, I was really into the 1950's, don't ask me why, because I honestly don't remember. However, I do remember, that my Mom threw me a 1950's themed birthday party. She made me a poodle skirt, collected all the right music, and opened our home to a bunch of rowdy kids. I still laugh when I think about one classmate who dressed as a greaser. His dad coated his hair with Vaseline, and when we threw confetti, it got plastered to his head. I can only imagine how many washings it took to get out! That day goes down in history as one of my favorite birthdays.
In third grade, I had a miserable violin teacher, who made me feel horribly guilty for not practicing more. I would make myself sick, just thinking about having to go to his class. When my Mom realized how traumatized I was, she marched into school and ripped this teacher a new one! By the time she was done, all he could do was stare at his own shoes.
During my elementary years, I also had a crappy principal. I don't recall what led my Mom to enter his office, but I do remember her calling him a "twit" to his face. I felt extremely validated at the time, in fact, I still feel validated, because he was truly a "twit"! From that point on, I knew that my Mom would always have my back.
Whenever we had a big snowstorm, my Mom would get bundled up and head outside. She was notorious for making these giant snow creatures. One year, she made an octopus that covered our entire lawn; she even built the tentacles climbing up our front stairs. She filled spray bottles with purple food coloring and sprayed the whole beast; he had oranges for eyes, evergreen eye lashes (Why? I don't know, that's just how my Mom rolls!), and a sign saying, "Go Giants!" (They happened to be in the Super Bowl that year.) On another occasion, she made a brilliantly green snow dragon. Her creations always stopped traffic and often landed us in the paper. Of course, by the time a reporter would come by, she was usually warming up in the house, so the kids would get the credit for her masterpieces. Totally unfair, but she never complained.
Throughout childhood, my sister suffered from asthma. Hospital trips and ambulance rides were no rare occurrence. Our Mom would bravely endure each terrifying attack. I vividly recall her sneaking Chinese herbal remedies into the hospital, when the countless nebulizer treatments failed to work.
I can still visualize the night when I came down the stairs and saw my Mom sitting with my college-aged brother. I had never seen him cry, but he was sobbing to her as he suffered an intense heartbreak. He was preparing to end a relationship and was plagued by guilt and sadness about the situation. I don't know how long they sat there, but I know she counseled him through the whole, painful process.
My Mom went to college while we were growing up, so her days were always very long. She worked, helped with homework, made dinner, cleaned, gave baths, read books (every night), and then "hit" her own books into the wee hours of the morning.
She opened her home, heart, and refrigerator to every one of our friends. My sister and I spent most of our formative years, tripping over our brother's sleeping friends. She provided a safe space for them to be kids/teenagers and then allowed them to crash on any available floor space. Everyone was always welcome, so they never wanted to leave.
As a teenager, I remember walking through the kitchen and finding all of my friends in my Mom's room. I quickly realized that they each went to her with everything that they couldn't tell their own mothers. No one ever felt judged in her presence, so they felt free to share their true selves. When they went home, they were "perfect". But when they were in our home, they were real.
Eight months after ending a bad relationship, I met my husband-to-be; I was 19-years-old. I felt that this new man had been brought to me by divine intervention, but I feared that it was too soon to enter into a new partnership. When I voiced my concerns to my Mom, she said simply, "There are no guarantees in life, so just follow your heart." This advice freed me to trust my intuition. Seven months later he proposed, and we have been happily united ever since.
When I was 24-years-old, I told my Mom that she was going to be a grandmother. She beamed from the deepest part of her soul and told me it was the best thing in the world! She gave me the confidence to become a mother.
At 27-years-old, I cried to her, as I told her that she was going to be a grandmother again. I knew I wanted another baby, but I couldn't imagine loving another one as much as my first. She told me that there is always enough love, and when that baby comes, it will follow. And of course, she was right... again.
These memories are mere snippets in time; they represent only the smallest fraction of our relationship. However, if you piece these experiences together with countless others, you begin to get a picture of the beauty that is my Mom. She is nurturing, yet fierce. Compassionate, yet cunning. Gentle, yet brutally honest. If you are her friend, count your blessings. If you are her enemy, watch out! If you cross her path, pause and pay attention. And if you are her child, biologically or otherwise, be eternally grateful. She will hold you in her heart forever, and that is a wonderful place to be.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I Love You to the Moon and Back!