Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mother Love

Mother Heart! Who knew the struggle
in those years that stood the test.
Mother Heart! I’d like to snuggle
once again close to your breast.
For the world with Fame’s great story,
all its triumphs, all its gold;
could not rob me of the glory
of the Mother Love I hold.
~ P. W. Reynolds

My Mother and Me

When I became a mother for the first time – I knew. He was mine and I was his, no matter what. Our daughter was born two and half years later and our youngest son, a few years after that – and still, I knew. The bond had been made. There was no denying it. 

What I didn’t know then was how that bond I held with my children would draw me closer to my own mother. The mother I spent the first quarter of my life adoring and the second – well, that’s what teenagers do, right? 

I, like most every girl of thirteen, once entertained the fantasy, that I must have been taken from my “real” parents – loving, caring people with no children other than myself, most likely stolen from them in the dead of night. They would be gracious people, probably with a lot of money, who now had holes in their hearts where mine should have been lovingly adored. The realization dawned on me then, as I searched the family photo albums and rummaged through the cedar chest for proof that I was, in fact, heir to the throne of… well, the throne of something I was sure. 

These fantasies would not last, however, for it was in that moment when I lay eyes on a photograph of me, as an infant, lying in my mother’s arms – that I knew I was hers. It only took the next twenty or thirty years for me to understand exactly what that meant.

This was the mother who made me comb my hair and brush my teeth before stepping foot out of the house. I heard more than once, “Sugar isn’t for breakfast" and "Those beautiful eyes weren’t meant to be hidden away by your hair". She taught me always to say, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and told me to hold my shoulders up and be proud of where I come from. “If you believe you’re somebody, then others will believe it too.” This mother encouraged, begged and insisted that I do my homework, clean my room and eat my vegetables. Where was the justice in that, I cried.

All mothers have expectations, I suppose, which most of us spend a lifetime trying to live up to – especially as daughters. Now that I am older I can honestly say, Thank Heaven they do! If it were not for my mother’s expectations, I might never have known what it means to dream, to try and even to fail. Her vision of her children’s limitless potential was what first set me on the path, to settle for nothing less than my best. 

Mother’s Day passed some months back now. It was my seventeenth this year– my mother’s forty-third, and after all this time, I still struggled with what to give as a gift on that special day. How do I thank the one person who gave me life, and then raised me to be who I am today? A box of chocolates are always appreciated.  When are they not?  Chocolate covered cherries are her favorite.  Perhaps some flowers or a nice set of wind chimes. When I was two, five and ten, my hand print on a paper bag would have made her smile. That, after all, was what I was after. The days of my cooing and acting cute have long since passed, though that Mother love and approval is still the golden ticket, even if I have children of my own seeking the same thing.  

What is it that we mothers really want from our children? Do we actually look forward to the perfect store bought gift on those special occasions? You know, the ones that are all about us!  Do we prefer they be wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons or handed over in the store’s plastic bag? From one mother to the rest, I admit, I prefer pretty paper. But what is it, I ask, that really leaves us feeling loved and appreciated?  This year I came to the same conclusion that I have since I was first able to give my mother something other than my hand print on that paper bag – all she really wants is my time and my attention. And, something simple wrapped in pretty paper couldn’t hurt. Words do mean something and when those of Love and Appreciation are followed up with action, they can mean even more.

This week in November, my mother has a birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!  I will wrap my arms around her, kiss her on the cheek ~ and while I'm at it, I will tell her that I love her and that she will always be mine... as *I* am hers.  

When her own happiness waned, she stayed. Where her own dreams faltered, she stood fast. I thank her, not simply because she taught me better, but because I am truly grateful for her unfailing dedication and for her love. What better gift to give and receive than words of Love from your children.

With all my love, Dear Mother!



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