“Pull yourself together, don’t you let this beat you, don’t you dare quit.” For every moment of doubt I have ever had, those words always come into my soul and erase my fear, concern or hesitation. They are words I have relied on in times of great discomfort, despair and trouble. But who said those words? Was it a famous politician, a noted thought leader or an ancient philosopher? No. The person who shared those words, calmly, yet firmly into my ear, had a greater impact on me and who I am today, more than a renowned theorist or anyone else.
Those words came from my mother.
As we look to honor our mothers on Mother’s Day this year, I often smile and am filled with a great sense of pride and comfort when I think of all that my mother was and all that she did for me. It is a frightening thought to think of where I would be without her. My mother worked tirelessly to give my brother, sister and me every advantage she could, and while her income was modest, she never let that stop her from trying to expand our minds, our worlds or our experiences to help us grow into the best people we could possibly be.
As I cared for my mother in her senior years, watching a woman who was so eloquent, so well-spoken and so intelligent, to begin to struggle with her memory in knowing who I was, my sadness for her plight was many times overtaken by a sense of repayment. I wanted to show her that, “After all you’ve done for me, this is the least I can do for you.”
Sadly, many mothers never get the recognition they so rightfully deserve for all of the sacrifices they make. Sacrifices like going to bed hungry so we can go to bed full, recycling last year’s fashions so we can wear the latest gear, working two or three jobs, with no sleep, so we can have a place to sleep, and driving a car that was so run down we were oftentimes too embarrassed to ride in, for fear that our friends would see us and laugh. What we didn’t know is that driving that old beat up car and not having a big monthly payment to impress the neighbors was what allowed us to pay for our doctor visits, our medications, our groceries and the trips to movies and fast food places with our friends.
I lost my mother’s body to disease and death, but her soul and the woman that she is lives on in me, my children and will live on in my children’s children.
While you can, thank your mother, face to face, not face to tombstone after she has passed away. Let her know every day, not just on Mother’s Day, what she means to you, what her sacrifices meant to you and how grateful you are for all that she gave up, so you can be all that you are. Even if she was not ideal, made mistakes, exemplified poor choices, or perhaps turned you over to someone else’s care, at the very least, she pushed you into this world, so honor her for that.
Not all women have the resources inside to raise their children effectively. But as the Scriptures say about the woman who poured oil on Jesus’s feet, “she has done what she could.” No one can give what they do not have. Love her, forgive her, honor her, and enjoy her. Life is too short for bitterness. To those of us who were blessed with mothers, who had the internal fortitude, the mental stability, and the spiritual maturity to aid us in life, we are all the more blessed knowing that some were not so richly endowed.
And Mothers, if no one else tells you Happy Mother’s Day today, I want you to hear it from me and know that you are appreciated for your calm in the storm, your will to never give up, your strength in the struggle, your beauty of soul, mind, spirit and heart and we, your children, love you.
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