It’s a familiar proverb: God couldn’t be everywhere, so he made mothers. An accurate one too. When we look around the world at all the recent turmoil—floods in the Midwest, earthquake and tsunami in Japan, devastation in Haiti and Rwanda, oil spill in the Gulf, destruction in New Orleans—we see the women in the background working to help make things better. They offer comfort, support, a shoulder to cry on, hard work to provide the basics for the family, and most of that without complaint. They also offer shoulders to carry the burden, tears of joy and sorrow, sighs that seem to help keep us all going, and laughter too, sometimes to keep from crying even harder.
Of course, all this care and support is not just from our literal mothers. In my life, many have stepped into a motherly role, depending on the circumstance. In sixth grade, Mrs. Welch, my favorite teacher, encouraged my love of learning and reading and started me on a career path into education. At my first job as a teenager, Helen took me under her wing to teach me the ropes of surviving while working at the department store. When I went to school in Indiana, Aunt Bernice, who had always been in my life but had not been just across town, stepped up and willingly shared humor, insight, love, support, pizza, and even a tolerance for a big dog who thought it was his right to sit on the furniture. She even graced me with several family heirlooms.
When I moved to Texas, over 1200 miles away from any family member, Dorothy the office secretary made me an honorary daughter and drove me to the beach that first day to relax and then helped get me moved into a new house. Pat and Mina stepped up and—as any good mother—not only taught me how to cut down a dying tree in the front lawn, but did the work of grinding the trunk down below ground level to avoid an eyesore. Their words: “You can’t just leave it sticking up like that—what would the neighbors think!?” I also met good friends at that time who stepped forward from day one to help me adjust to life in South Texas, and we all shared joys and heartaches as well as holiday meals—and some of them were even better cooks than mom! Several of them are still like family today.
When the need arises for a cup of chicken soup, a bouquet of flowers, honest advice, a shoulder to cry on, birthday calls and celebrations, copy of a favorite recipe, a kick in the rear to do the right thing, even a bit of guilt over missing some obligation or other, mom is not alone in finding a way to respond. Many other mothers step forward as well. For me, my other mothers include a favorite aunt and sister, friends and cousins—both male and female—who all graciously step-up to cuddle or kick as needed. Sometimes that’s a box of books to share, a cheerful morning email, a willingness to listen to my problems over and over again without complaint, or a chiding to slow down and not overdo. Other times, it’s a sharing of their own creativity that encourages mine, a willingness to help out with a favor—even on short notice, an elephant figurine or piece of jewelry just to say hello, participation in a familiar ritual, or a question about how my diet is going. Maybe even a suggestion for this Mother’s Day blog.
Of course, Mom is there doing the same things, but there are never too many good wishes, too much sound advice, or too many inquiries about life and love to go around. For my part, I hope I am stepping-up to my motherly instincts as well as a sister, niece, aunt and friend—whether it is sharing a care package or making an inquiry about a silence that has gone on too long or offering whatever can help make the current situation better. For me, chocolate always seems the perfect equalizer no matter what the situation!
So on Sunday, call your mom, tell her you love her, give her some of your time as well as a card or bouquet or something. But as that special day approaches, remember the other moms out there in your life and throughout the world, and say a more general thank you as well. We are in good company and that is worthy of acknowledgment.
Happy Mother’s Day!
“Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the some and most mothers kiss and scold together.” Pearl S. Buck
“Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.” Charlotte Gray
“Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on to how bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved.” Kate Samperi
“It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding.” Erma Bombeck