My mom is a rich woman. My life has not been perfect, but at its best, it has been abundant and luxurious. I have been blessed. To show you how rich my mom is, here are some of examples of what my sisters and I had growing up:
excessive laughter. And this, generally, at the most inappropriate of times. There were moments when the church pews shook with silent hiccups, because we girls could not all be together, could not look at each other in serious moments, without finding some joke.
abundant adventure. Don’t ask my mom about the Christmas tree she accidentally stole… ask me. I have the real story.
extravagant drama. See photo to the right. A typical afternoon in our house.
copious amounts of nature. So many of my childhood memories took place outdoors— blustery Buffalo winter snow forts, springtime sprints in the rain, summer slip-n-slides, and autumn camping trips.
overflowing stories. Robert McCloskey, the Peterkins (and of course the lady from Philadelphia), Harold with his purple crayons— these were the friends that peopled my childhood, taught me lessons, and gave us a reason to make many trips to the library.
bountiful pennies and nickels. In the couch cushions, in the car’s cup holder, under the fridge, waiting to be brought to the neighbor’s dessert cooler or to be exchanged for a “medicinal” Wendy’s frosty or Anderson’s ice cream cone.
I never stopped to think that we were lacking in any way, that most families
owned their houses, had cable TV, and drove cars without rust spots. I never felt sorry for myself for any lack of material things — in my mind, we were rich.
Today we honor mothers, not for the material goods they provide for their children, but for worlds they create for their families, the time they spend with their kids, the magic they inject into holiday traditions, the way they just hold everything together no matter how crazy things get (see photo to the left). We honor them not for being perfect. Perfect is one-dimensional. We honor them for being good. What a rich word that is. It holds no standard of achievement, like perfection. Rather, it holds a promise of being—being with her children, living slowly in each moment, teaching them the things they need to know, doing the best she can to love at all times, and knowing how to be vulnerable.
And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden
I am very lucky to come from a line of strong women, who know how to respect others without sacrificing self-respect, and who will love at all costs, in the face of any obstacle.
My mom spent two years of her life giving of her time, her strength, and even her health in caring for her own mother, who chose to move into an apartment next to my parents’ during her last few years on this earth, until grandma eventually required 24/7 care. The way my mom loved her mother despite some of the most difficult challenges she has ever faced, has made such an impact on the way I live and the way I treat others.
Thank you mom for teaching me what it means to be good, not perfect, but good. This is what has gotten me through my first year and a half of parenting, and what, I expect, will guide me through rest of the journey ahead. Love you, Ma. Happy Mother’s Day!