Let’s take a break from our usual programming to talk Mother’s Day.
The history of Mother’s Day in this country goes back just over a century but has a profound and deep history throughout the world and time. I think we can all agree that mothers are special in so many ways and most mothers have undefined qualities that are difficult to express in words. In fact, having a single day to commemorate and recognize the gift that they are seems just the very least we can do to mark the amazing spirit they represent, the mark they have made on us, the example they have lived, seemingly without effort.
I am blessed to have had two moms (in actuality, many more than that). One I lost many years ago and the other is my stepmother, a lovely and gracious woman who has been an amazing wife to my Dad and an incredible women and Mother to her children. Part of blended families, especially as adults, is that the best parts of being a new parent – the growing, learning, experiencing – doesn’t get to happen. But it’s okay. What we do get, as adults, is a quick learning curve and an appreciation of who they are and what they represent. My stepmother has been an incredible partner to my dad and loves him with all her heart, giving me something that way as well, and I am grateful for that.
I think we can all agree that parental relationships can sometimes be challenging and that can be, at times, be painful and heartbreaking. I remember as a kid an adult telling me that the older I got the smarter my parents would get. And they were right, of course. The family dynamic is different for all of us, but at 54 years old I grew up at a time when most moms stayed ay home and raised a family while dad went to work. That was true in our household. I had one brother and three sisters and a mom who was so gifted in many, many ways.
She had great talents in many areas but her most incredible talent was making you feel like you were the only person in the room, even if that room was full. She was tender, caring, an incredible listener, a great counselor, a caring and attentive nurse, a gentle and compassionate friend, and a stern and very capable parent. To be honest, she was just an okay cook and, for an Italian Mom… Well, it is what it i. But she knew that and if her cooking skills were her only flaw, and I wouldn’t even call it a flaw, I wouldn’t trade any of my life with her for a five-star chef in any way. No need to worry though, there were MANY amazing cooks in my life and being that we lived in the kitchen and there was always a house full of extended family in the house, I was never without a great meal; that I can promise you.
My mom did have her fair share of challenges and of that I also have clear memories. She was never well, in my memory. She was in and out of the hospital so many times during my childhood that some of my saddest memories were my dad driving us to the hospital so we could wave at her in her hospital window while she was being treated for her many illnesses. Back in those days children were not allowed in hospitals and the many trips we took to the parking lot, all five children and my dad, were filled with anxiety and a level of excitement. We would stand there for ten minutes waving, crying, and wondering when she would come home. During these times we spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother, who in many ways was an amazing surrogate mom. I will write about her one day, I promise. The hours of laughter, love and learning from her were epic, I assure you.
But moms are moms. They have that thing we cannot define. They have that special recipe that makes them uniquely ours and the cherished memories, experiences, and opportunities they gave us and still give us are just there when needed. Moms know when to be tender and when to be hard. They know when to hold tight and when to let go. They know when to talk and when to listen, and they know when to push and when push harder and they do it with grace, charm, intelligence, and divine wisdom. And they do it with little more than the intuitive strength and know how that they possess.
Obviously I still miss my mom and she has been gone 20 years. But I have my memories and I have my experiences and I have my children and their mother and I have a chance to make sure she lives through the stories and the lessons she taught me and that I have taught and continue to teach my kids.
Oddly, and people love this story about my mom, she was an evangelical born-again Christian. Yes, she spoke in tongues, went to almost daily prayer meetings, wrapped herself in the Bible, and loved to preach the good word of God. After years living a Catholic life she found real peace and salvation in her born-again world and after a honeymoon period and once she became more comfortable with her new religious world, she became, actually transformed, into an even more special person. It hardly seems possible to think that, but it’s true, and she also raised a hard-core liberal/progressive activist who has dedicated his life to charity and enlightenment. In fact, all of my siblings are and it is NOT an adverse response to her radical views or her fire-breathing evangelical bent. Rather, it is a testimonial to her openness and willingness to be compassionate and caring and she taught us all to be loving and accepting of all people. Her belief, as she shared with us all many times, was that if we are made in God’s image, and if God loved all, who are we to judge?
How can that be wrong?
Happy Mother’s Day to every mom out there today. No matter your relationship with your mom – and I realize that not all of them are like mine or are good – if your mom is still with us, find a path back, if you can. Repair and reinforce the bond you have always had, and if you can’t, be grateful that she gave you life and try to find peace. Just maybe that can be a gift you can give her even if she doesn’t know it.
Many of you have amazing moms and you can easily see who and how your life is the way it is because of her. For that you have been blessed, as have I. Make sure she knows. Be there for her and remember her for all that she is, even the tough parts, as we all have tough parts, don’t we?
History aside, Mother’s Day is special, and for you, moms everywhere, may today not just be a one day of the year time of recognition, but an affirmation that, because of you, the world is a better place. It’s true. Thank You!