It’s kind of a shame that a mother really only gets one day a year in recognition of everything she does for us. When we’re little and can’t manage our own lives, she feeds us, keeps us warm and dry, and nurtures us as we grow, often at the expense of her own needs and wants. As we get older, our mothers teach us how to live our lives, take care of ourselves, and behave with decency in a complicated world of other people and external pressures. All too often, we try very hard to largely ignore her as we start to make our own way in the world, or worse, rudely challenge her, seemingly to spite how much love she offers. Luckily, the stages of struggle usually pass as maturity comes, and we realize how truly lost our lives would be without that loving mother’s careful touch.
I’ll be celebrating three mothers today, trying to make sure that they somehow all get a decent meal, don’t have to clean up after it, and by and large have a relaxing, enjoyable day. It’s probably not enough. It can’t really ever be enough, not to make up for everything they’ve given and given up, but I’m thankfully just smart enough now to realize that all a mother truly wants is to know that her family is safe.
The first of the three is my mother-in-law, who I won’t embarrass excessively here; since I know she’ll be reading and is probably already rosy-cheeked at being mentioned. That said though, I often see her clear touch in my wife’s approach to life and motherhood, and she has every right to beam with pride. I believe there is no greater compliment that we, as children having become parents ourselves, can offer beyond emulating our parents in the way we raise kids. Impersonation truly is the sincerest form of flattery.
The second of the three is my own mother. I already extolled her virtues quite a bit here on her birthday, so I won’t beat that horse a second time. The one thing I will add is that you know you’ve got a good mom when no matter how badly you screw up, regardless of what you’ve done, there’s still never a doubt in your mind that she does and always will love you. In the sixth grade, I hit the neighborhood jackass (who was a freshman) with a waffle-ball bat because I didn’t care for the way he’d spoken to one of the neighbor girls. Ninety seconds later, he was smacking my head against the dirt (but only hard enough to prove his point). The worst part of the exchange was that he broke my glasses in the process, which as any childhood wearer of spectacles will tell you, is a guaranteed one-way ticket to Furious Momville. To make matters worse, rumor has it that I might have said something along the lines of “get off of me, you sonuvabitch”. While I can neither confirm nor deny that specifically, I will say that while she was certainly Pissed (yes, with a capital ‘P’), there was never a moment, not even while having a very awkward, mostly one-sided “discussion” of the inappropriateness of the term “sunovabitch” on the way to the optometry place, that I feared no longer being loved. Further, I still pride myself to this day on eating a few mouthfuls of dirt that afternoon. It certainly wasn’t movie heroism, but my mother taught me that a) you don’t treat women poorly, and b) you try and look out for those weaker than you. The application of those ideals didn’t exactly go according to plan, but then again, I never saw the jerk bother the poor girl again. Yes, Mom, I got into a fight, but only because you raised me right.
Finally, tomorrow, I’ll be trying to make it a good day for the Puddinette. I likely won’t succeed as planned, because I’m occasionally a screw-up, but she has a generous heart and knows what she got when she foolishly said, “I do”. I don’t have the words, surprisingly, to describe how my life depends on her. She keeps my children clothed and fed, keeps us from living in filth or accepting the mediocre as “good enough”. Without her, none of us would have shoes, our hair would be disturbingly shaggy, and you couldn’t find clean underwear around here even after a field trip to the Hanes factory. She’s everything I had ever hoped that I would find in the mother of my children, which is saying much considering I often thought I’d never have any. That she’s led me to the well four times, and given me four wonderful children to try not to screw up too badly says more than I could ever hope to convey. So, I’ll add nothing else, beyond, Happy Mother’s Day, Querida, you make all this craziness possible, and largely less crazy.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the other mothers out there too.