Mother’s Day 2011

The call came at 3:30 a.m.

There is nothing more immediately terrifying than a middle- of- the- night phone call.  It’s amazing how quickly we wake up when we hear the sound of our own child’s voice at that hour.  Adrenaline floods the system and even if you have been sound asleep for hours,  you are immediately AWAKE.

Her first words to me were, “Mom?  Okay….First, I’m safe.”

Yup. She knows me.

All she needed was a set of car keys forgotten during the chaos of getting ready for her senior prom, and I know why she called me at that hour.  She didn’t think I’d have my phone near the bed and figured I’d just see her message in the morning when I awoke with the rest of the world.  She’s not a mother, obviously.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one to get an early morning wake up call.  As I  fumbled to get my fingers and bifocal-less eyes to cooperate, I mis-dialed and  managed to call my OWN mother.   She answered the phone after three rings.  Apologizing and explaining the whole “key” thing, I wished her a very early Happy Mother’s Day.

I hope that she was  able to get back to sleep.

I couldn’t.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Yawn…..

I’m working myself out of a job, which I suppose is the goal.  We raise them so they’ll leave us…move out….jump into the world with confidence and skill. And if we’re lucky… their car keys.   If I’d known how hard this letting go thing was, I would have tried not to get so attached to these two human beings I’ve become used to seeing around the house for the past eighteen years.  In this month of Proms and Moms, it is bittersweet to think of where we started, and where we are today.

I miss those Mother’s Day mornings of runny eggs and cold toast in bed. Those sticky kisses and crayoned cards.  The “whale tail” of my girl and the pudgy legs of my boy.  I even miss the  noise and the mess.  If you’re a mom with little ones this Mother’s Day, take time to hug them extra hard today because, trust me on this,  they will grow up too soon. And if you are a mom of teens, stop and hug yours extra hard, too, because you know  as well as I do how fleeting this period of time really is in life.

Being a mother changes everything.  It’s the best thing I’ve done.

The monumentally difficult decisions of two mothers half a world away enabled  me to become a Mother after nature, and all the best medicine had failed.

My kids think I’m nuts most of the time.  That’s because they don’t know, can’t know, how much I love them, or how singular this love is. It’s a scary kind of love. A fierce, irrational, all-consuming love.  It’s a love that breaks my heart, then fills it, then breaks it again. Over and over and over.  I’m a  maternal roller coaster.  Older mothers, mine included, tell me that this never, ever ends. I fear that this is true.

Fierce Moms ask a lot of questions….of their kids, of their kids’ teachers, of society.  And they don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer.  This does not always make them popular.  They check up, check in, and refuse to let themselves check out because they know that the job they are doing is essential. That they are essential.

Fierce Moms do not try to be perfect Moms.  But they spend their lives trying to be better Moms.  And they don’t mother all of their kids exactly the same because they know that there isn’t a “one size fits all” method to mothering.  They tell their kids when they’ve screwed up. They own up to the fact that they are not perfect, and don’t require perfection from their kids, either.

Fierce Moms often find themselves mothering a lot of other kids besides their own.  They welcome their kids’ friends into their homes and into their lives.   There is always room for one more kid at the dinner table. Their minivans are full of the soccer bags and dance bags and musical instruments of other kids.

Fierce Moms don’t tolerate having their kids hurt. When I was a child, I once witnessed a fed-up mom pull the neighborhood bully, a fifth grader off the bus and beat the living daylights out of him.   On the sidewalk in front of the school. With the bus driver and the kids all watching in disbelief.  She didn’t hurt anything but his pride and his desire to pick on the rest of us.

True story.

It was impressive.  I never really understood why she’d done it until I had children myself.  Now, I “get” that Mom…I SOOOOOO get that Mom.

And so, on the day reserved for moms, a Toast….

To the young moms and  the old moms and all the moms in between….Happy Mother’s Day.

To the poor moms, and the privileged moms, and
the moms who work both at home and in the workplace…Happy Mother’s Day.

To the women who choose not to become Mothers and then spend their lives teaching and mentoring the children of all of us…Happy Mother’s Day.

To the moms who do it alone, either by choice, or by chance, and
the moms who raise the grandchildren who call them “mom”

To the moms who grieve the loss of a child taken from them too soon, and the moms missing their own moms for the same reason

To the moms who are in the military themselves, and the moms praying for sons and daughters who serve

To the moms who go hungry so their children can eat and who sleep on cots in shelters with their children next to them
To the moms who send their children to America and stay behind in refugee camps

To the moms who spank when they’d rather hug, and the moms who hug when they’d rather spank

To the goofy moms and the dorky moms and the serious moms

To the musical moms who make their children practice piano and the soccer moms who stand in the rain

To the moms who lovingly welcome their child’s same-sex partner and the moms who plan weddings for their children that they’d prefer not to attend at all

To the moms who spend the bulk of their lives doing laundry and grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning

To the  moms who make their kids go to church,  and the moms who don’t
To the moms who do their best to protect my own when I’m not there to do it

To the moms who take care of the bullies among us

To my own mom, my husband’s mom and the moms of my friends

To the foster moms
The birth moms
The adoptive moms

and finally, most of all,  the two young women in South Korea who trusted that the universe would take care of the babies they’d labored to bring into the world who now call me “Mom” –

Happy Mother’s Day!

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