I think about my mom a lot. I’m guessing if I really paid attention, that I probably think of her everyday. That might seem impossible, but I think it’s probably right. I don’t mean, I sit around and cry that she’s gone every morning (although, honestly, I could work myself up to it if I allowed it) I just mean, that something about her pops into my world once a day. It might be something she said often, like, “Put two feet in one shoe and march,” her words of encouragement when you needed to get through something difficult. It might be the way she rubbed my hair after dinner when we were watching tv together. It might be the way she always took off the top of her fish sandwich when we ate McDonald’s every Saturday after Miss Burdett’s ballet class, or it might be the perfect serenity and contentedness of her face on the beach in Cape Cod, in her bathing suit, staring out at the water. They (you know, the general “they”) say that the dead are always with you. And while it’s not much consolation when you are losing someone, or have just endured their loss, I think it does end up in the end to be true. My mom seems to be in my air space most of the time, and she has for the 22 years she has been gone. I conjure her image when I’m making meatballs, or cutting garlic. I think of her when I’m playing “I”m the only one who ever cleans this house” martyr queen. And every time my kids do something extraordinary that makes me want to burst with happy, I think of how amazed she would be that this woman of Italian immigrant parents had grandchildren who did the things they do, and are the people they are.
Being a mother is so much bigger and more important than the thought so many people put into it when they get pregnant. With no education, prerequisites, licenses, or special books required, being a mother can happen to those who aren’t even interested in nursing a glass of wine. But those who choose to be mothers, who consider what being a mother will ask, are kind of ridiculously remarkable. Because the experience is like no other, and has changed me in ways that I still fully don’t understand. It asks so much of you and it gives so much back to you, that it changes your very DNA. It expands your heart like an air pump expands a balloon, right up to the point, where you think it might pop. It demands patience and kindness and guts and pain tolerance, and a huge capacity for joy and disappointment in equal measure. It’s, to steal a phrase from the Peace Corp., “the toughest job you’ll ever love.”
The most incredible thing about being a mother is the power you have. A sentence that slips out of your mouth nonchalantly can resonate with your kid in such a way that it guides their whole lives. I’m pretty loose lipped, so I am expecting some of my words to bite me in the behind in the near future. But mostly, I am hoping that I will be remembered as a mother who tried really hard, and loved really fiercely.
Just like my mom.
So, here’s to you, ladies, who play taxi, and chef, and cheerleader and counselor, and warden, and fashion consultant, and repository for anger, frustration and general pissed off-ness. Raising a glass to you on Sunday’s day of the mom. Congratulations today, and everyday.