I’ve been thinking a lot about moms, in part, I think because of gaining a new level of respect and regard for my own mother over the past few years as I’ve witnessed the grace, gentleness and kindness she’s shown caring for my dad who has Alzheimer’s. It’s also on my mind because of the changes in my own journey as a mother now of adult children. I’m realizing that I don’t tell my mom nearly often enough how much I appreciate her sacrifice, her unwavering love, her steady example that helped me become who I am today. Our relationship with our mom is just different than any other relationship we’ll ever have. As a mother of three, I’ve found this to be true. I am a mom, and with that has come a completely different perspective.
Dads? They usually serve it up to you straight and tell you that your dream of being the first astronaut allowed to go into space despite having severe asthma is never going to happen and that you might as well focus on being a research scientist or engineer that helps other healthy astronauts get into space. A dad tells you your math skills are too weak to get into a NASA program anyway and that you’d better buckle down and start doing more math problems or you’re going to end up on the street because you sure as heck aren’t living in his basement when you figure out you can’t support yourself because you didn’t do your homework and apply yourself while you had the opportunity. It’s probably a good thing that most dads are usually realists.
But Moms? We believe in you. And we move mountains to help you make it happen, because we know with just the right opportunities you’ll rise to the occasion and shine bright for the world to see the amazing you that we’ve seen since you were born. We lobby Congress to pass laws forcing NASA to accept astronauts with asthma. We lobby drug manufacturers to discover a new drug to cure asthma in time for you to have a chance to make your dream come true. We quit our jobs and move across the country to enter you in a reality show where the winner gets a chance to go into space – and then fight for you to get on the show. And when, a few months later, you change your mind and decide you want to be a race car driver, we start researching the rules to see if there is anything we need to fix to make this new dream possible.
Your friends may feed the bad attitude you’ve tried on for the first time, reveling in your bravery to mock the awkward kid sitting alone, talk back to your teacher, give attitude to your boss, or act badly with your spouse. Your girlfriends or your buddies will pat you on the back and tell you that you’re perfectly in your right to have said or done whatever deed it is that has you in hot water. They’ll back you up – even if when they secretly judge you when you’re out of earshot.
But Moms? Ours is the voice that rings in your head when you act badly. Facing our disappointment and disapproval is often the driving force that prevents you from acting on your urges. We are the first one in your life that makes you sit in a chair and think about what you did. We are the first one to make you say you are sorry to your younger sibling if you ever want to see your toys again. We’re the one who sits you down privately and tells you of the pain you’ve caused someone else, of the shame you should be feeling over your choices, of your responsibility to make it right before things get worse. Moms are your moral compass until you grow your own.
If you forget your spouse’s birthday or your anniversary, good luck finding anywhere else to sleep besides the couch. Screw up a major bid at work, and your boss is not going to give you a hug and tell you that you’ll surely do better next time.
But moms forgive you, even when you haven’t yet found your own way to genuine remorse. You can neglect her, not call her for months, even forget to call her on Mother’s Day, and she’ll still be the first one at your door with homemade soup when she sees from your latest Facebook status that you’re flat on your back in bed with a nasty bug. Even when our hearts are breaking on the inside, we set aside our feelings to support you when you need it, when no one else around you understands your struggle or how to help you grieve through your failures.
A lot of people will love you over the span of your life, but none will ever be as unconditional or unwavering as your mother’s. Your friends will love you, but if their lives change or they find a new love interest, you’ll quickly take a back seat in their life. Your spouse will love you, but that love comes a more strings than you’ll find at a Cats In The Cradle Competition and will take more effort to keep alive than you ever expected. Not that nurturing these loves isn’t worth the relationships we enjoy because of the work we put into them; they are.
But Moms will love you when you fail. Or succeed. When you’re petty or magnanimous, when you lie or tell the brutal truth. We will still love you when you have to move back in. Our love is unwavering whether you meet your goals, move the goal post, fall flat on your face, or when you mess up so badly that no one believes you are capable of redemption. Moms will fight for you when you have lost the strength to fight for yourself. We’ll struggle to reach you when you don’t want to be found. Mothers love. Always.
No, I know this isn’t true of all mothers – and I honestly do not understand a woman who doesn’t feel this way about her children. But by and large, this is a universal truth. This Mother’s Day or on her birthday or just because it’s Thursday, tell your mom how much her love means to you. It will be the best gift you’ll ever give her. I promise. It is the best gift I’ve received.