Back in 1966, a twenty-two year old woman labored for almost four days to bring a daughter into the world. In a time and place when a c-section was something of a last resort, she almost died before they gave her one, thus liberating her firstborn.
That would be me; I was probably reading a book. Even then. War and Peace or something. My mother was extremely glad to have me finally show up, weeks late, and I always knew how welcome I was.
My mom has always been awesome like that.
Having come from a family that was not the most stable in the known universe, Mom made sure that her kids were wrapped in the assurance of how loved and valued they were. There were three of us, all of us unique and kind of odd in our ways, and Mom encouraged our uniqueness and made sure that we had the tools we needed to pursue what we wished to try for.
She did warn me that being President of the United States might not be something I wished for, though. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I wouldn’t want the scrutiny of the position. She was right.
Mom has often been right. She’s one of those women who, when she walks in the room, is clearly the one to watch. I’ve seen this. People will check what she’s wearing and reassure themselves that they are dressed in a manner compatible – because Mom always knows what to wear. If she leads a group, the group is effective and communicative and nurtured.
Yes, she has “I told you so,” inscribed upon her forehead. We’re not fond of that. She also wears rose-tinted glasses, but after her early years’ experiences? We figure she’s entitled so all of us kids work hard to let her keep them.
When I was eight years old, my little sister was born and I started taking notes. Asking Mom why she did what she did in terms of parenting. She shared with me, answering the questions I presented, and thus began my long study of motherhood. I lived the values she imparted. Honesty, courtesy, harmony. That every person is a unique individual who deserves to be treated as such, and they should be parented according to what works for that person, not according to a book or an advice column. We were all treated as responsible human beings.
And guess what? We are still responsible human beings, all of us.
My mother is a woman of faith, who lives out her love of God and of her neighbor. She doesn’t just talk it, she walks it. Every single day. Her faith is practical and she taught us life’s lessons in parables, like Jesus taught. She blushes when I remind her of this, but it’s true.
She’s a terribly busy retired woman, now. She and Dad live in Tennessee, hundreds of miles away from me. But we speak often, sharing the joys and concerns of two adult women as well as the family love of Mother and Daughter. She taught me so much about how to do this job that I have—Mothering—and she did it without apparent effort.
I have to work at it every single day.
On Mother’s Day, I make sure she’s had a card. A little present. An acknowledgment of the day. One year, I wrote her a short book about it. This year, she’s got a Kindle App on her smartphone and I sent her a book for it.
On my birthday? The anniversary of the day that she worked so hard for, so long ago? I give her another gift. It’s a joy to me and it makes her smile, too. I celebrate two Mother’s Days for her every year, and both of them are in May.
One year, maybe I’ll buy her War and Peace.