In writing the card for my mom yesterday, I once again noticed a recurring problem of mine: I take my mother for granted. Just as my kids do. Just as every other child does at some point, even after they’ve realized the sad fact. I know I’ve noticed this fault in myself before, and I’ve made efforts to respect and cherish her more, and express those feelings to her, too. But I inevitably return to my old ways at some point and rely on her without thinking of the gift she is to me.
Things that are awesome about my mom: she’s kind, patient, ever-listening, never condemning, well-read and knows all words that have ever existed, takes care of my kids all the time, buys them clothes and takes them on dates, keeps on truckin’ when life deals a low blow, listens to good music, loves my dad, and never gives up on people. Even me. I used to think she was overly sentimental. Her cards to my brother and me are packed with gushes of affection that I’ve heard since I was a kid, so sometimes I become immune to their benefits. But when I stop and actually think for a moment about what that build-up of kind words has done for my self-esteem, my love for others, my outlook on the world, I realize their value. When I’m reminded that other moms don’t do that, but actually criticize their daughters or worse, I can see my ungrateful heart for what it is.
Things I have taken for granted about my mom since birth (besides all of the things listed above): that she got up to feed me every three hours for months on end, cleaned me up when I puked in my sleep, dealt with my hormone rampages as a teen, went without at times to make sure my brother and I didn’t, made food on every holiday when she would rather have been hanging out like the rest of us, bought groceries and cleaned our house and made supper and fixed us snacks and drove us from ballet to gymnastics to soccer. All the things my kids don’t appreciate about me, and probably won’t value for a very long time. I’m still figuring out how to be thankful for my mom. No wonder my children at eight, five and two don’t have it down. Mothering is a silent parade of selfless acts. No one pays attention though it’s going right down the street. Even with floats. As my dad wrote in my mother’s day card “The love of a mother, I believe, is the most powerful and pure proof of God.” Wow. The act of quietly giving yourself for your children because you so love them, because it’s what they need, knowing they mostly won’t thank you for it. Yep. I think my dad is right.
No mother is perfect, including my own, but life without her is hard and painful to imagine. So I won’t. Not yet. But I will try to tell her more than once a year how dear she is to me. Give her an extra-long hug sometime, or send her a card on a day when nothing special is happening. And I suppose I should cut my kids some slack. Maybe even quit threatening to go on strike when they complain about the dinner I’ve made. Someday chicken curry won’t seem like such an affront to their human rights. And the silent parade that’s been quietly marching down their street will be noticed. And I’ll throw some candy and smile, knowing it took me just as long to see the spectacle.