For nearly 60 years, my mom has been, well, a mom. Such a simple title, but with it literally the weight, well-being, and direction of the world. From the first mother, women have raised children to be good parents themselves, to shape families, neighborhoods and nations. Mothers have provided guidance, love, basic care, discipline, allowance, sustenance, and so many more things. All under the simple title of mom.
My dad has risen to great worldly heights, carried many titles, been praised for so much of what has filled his life, and deservedly so. But none of it would have been possible without the woman standing beside him who carried the simple titles of mother and wife. She was the anchor that made his ambitions possible, his family life tenable, and gave a bedrock to his confidence. Such is not en vogue in this day and age, with liberation and equality seemingly of higher worth than goodness and partnership, and career outweighing the divine title of mother. Regardless, there is no title held anywhere of greater import, of greater worth, and of greater impact throughout history than that of mother. The best mothers, regardless of their career status, understand what their most important role is.
My mom has raised six kids, moved over thirty times, often with days’ notice. She has endured tight single-income budgets, ornery kids (not me), school activities that held no interest for her, friends who didn’t have her children’s best interests at heart, the styles of the 70’s, loss of loved ones, and the heartache of watching her children go through life’s struggles. She has changed more diapers than the best of nannies, made more meals than an Army cook, repaired entire wardrobes of torn clothing, spent more nights up with sick kids, and worried over her children than a normal soul should have to endure. Through it all, she retained her sense of humor, her love of life, and her goodness. She got few girls’ nights out, no real breaks from motherhood, and she doesn’t even know what ‘me time’ is.
I remember one illustrative moment in our avocado-green kitchen in Virginia. Mom had just made a chocolate cream pie and had given it to my brother Brock and I. We sat there eating it by the spoonfuls when one of us got the great idea to wipe a bite on the other. After a few retaliatory actions, I picked up the pie to dump the whole thing on Brock. My mom stepped in the middle of us to stop the mess, and without thinking I smashed the pie on her head. Instead of the anger I deserved, she started to giggle and shrug her shoulders. Not mad at the loss of a great pie, or the mess we made, or our disrespect for her efforts, but wise to a family memory in work and the joy of horseplay with her kids.
My wife, the mother of my four kids, is not a step behind my mother. That is not a comparison, as comparisons between mothers is inappropriate. Like my mother, her duties and responsibilities regarding those in her charge always came first. My kids frequently received when my wife was totally spent. She never measures her time and energy to then dole it out, but gives to meet the need, and then some. She loves when, on occasion, they really don’t deserve it. She teaches until they get it. She supports always. She admittedly does not operate on logic and any risk management matrix. She operates on what she perceives each child needs. She helps when no none else is around to do so. She does not stew about titles or career, despite her innate abilities and the career she left to care for them. She would give her life for any of her kids. Indeed, she has given it for all of them.
The true essence of motherhood is a love for those in their charge, a disregard for titles, awards, and recognition, and an eternal vision of the greatness they create. Mothers love when none is returned. Mothers care when others don’t have time. Mothers give when there is nothing left to give. Mothers partner with God to ensure that His greatest creation –His children–achieve happiness and their maximum potential. I have been honored to live with two great mothers, and generations will be thankful for how seriously they took that title of Mother.
Happy Mothers’ Day.