Maybe it happens when you go off to college and realize that you are required to take care of yourself completely. There are no more weekends of tough homework where mom says, “I’ll do the laundry for you,” or “What can I do to help?” While she may still help, from a distance, it just isn’t the same when you leave home.
Maybe it happens when you find out you are pregnant for the first time and you are scared to death. “There’s a human, that is going to grow, and I will be responsible for that human.”
Maybe it happens when you’ve got the entire car loaded up for an outing, such as a trip to the beach. You spent the wee hours getting something ready for everyone to eat, sandwiches, maybe some chips, and the requisite healthy options–fruits and veggies. All the sustenance is packed tightly in a cooler, and the freshly-washed beach towels are sitting in a pile to the left in the trunk of your car. The kids are sun-screened with lotion (that in itself can be a battle), the car tank is full, and you didn’t even forget the umbrella this time. You are barely out of the driveway when one of the children loses his breakfast all over the floor, carseat, and upholstery. Yes, it sometimes happen when well-executed plans change in the blink of an eye.
Maybe it happens when your baby is just two weeks old and will not stop crying. It is 2 a.m., everyone is asleep but you and the little one, and it doesn’t stop. You have no idea how to make the baby happy. So you cry, because the mixture of love and frustration and exhaustion is just too much in this moment.
Maybe it happens at night when finally, sometimes mercifully, all the kids have fallen asleep. They look so perfect in this state. You glance over your little treasures and are sure you would, and could do anything for them. You realize you don’t deserve such precious gifts.
It might happen in the afternoon–that time before dinner and bed where there is nothing right in the universe. Everyone is hungry and has a need, and the noise sometimes makes you want to lock yourself in the bathroom.
I can’t pinpoint a single moment where I sat back and said, “Wow, my mom did this, FOR ME!” It happens so often. It is a moment of quiet admiration, and realization of her sacrifice and her love. It is also a moment of inspiration. She did this, and she raised me, so I can do it too. I can take care of these kids, love them, feed them, clothe them, play with them with maybe just a few bumps and bruises along the way. She did it for me, I will do it for them.
I have four children. My youngest just weeks. The nights are difficult, but I am happy. My mom bore 17 children. I can’t imagine how many difficult nights she endured. I can’t fathom how she waded through the afternoon chaos. But there’s one thing that connects the two of us, and that is love. A mom’s love for her children makes her do crazy and amazing things. And when the chaos and mishaps settle for the night, that’s what makes everything so worthwhile. Love.
So take a moment the weekend, and think about your mom and how she impacted your life, how she made you a better person and mom. And Happy Mother’s Day to all of you.
Here’s a piece I wrote for my mom, the Mother of 17 – “The Red Lipstick Hero”