Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Moms That Keep on Giving

A few years ago, I saw a news piece about the children of the Great Depression, and an older gentleman was talking about always being hungry. He said that he rarely saw his mother eat, and that he could not imagine how much she gave up to make sure that he was fed. He barely got the words out, and I still tear up when I think about both his mother's selflessness and his adult realization of her silent sacrifices.

As children, we do not always have a clear sense of the small and big sacrifices that our mothers make for us. Even as adults, when we start to understand the degree to which our lives shaped our parents' lives, we can never quite grasp the hundreds of ways our mothers put themselves second. Whether it is always taking the burnt piece of toast, or starving so we might eat, our moms give, and they give whether we are grateful or not.

I have been reading a lot of mommy blogs lately, for reassurance and solidarity, because I have learned that as a mom, second-guessing becomes second nature. We do not hesitate to sacrifice but we always wonder if we are doing enough. As a mom, looking at my growing circus of children, I would say that I am not doing enough to ensure that my kids are well-rounded, well-mannered, well-adjusted individuals. I obsess about the manners, knowledge, instruments, sports, languages, arts and community engagement that my kids probably will not master because I don't have the time to indulge them, and tend to forget that I am not Superwoman.

But as a daughter, looking back at my childhood and adolescence, I would say that my mother's sacrifices, both the ones I saw and the ones I did not, were not lacking. And since the best people to reassure mothers of their fine mommying are kids themselves (no matter how many times other people might say it, I always believe it more when my five-year-old identifies my good mommy skills), I want to tell my mom that all she invested is appreciated.

Sorry you had to attend so many two-hour torture sessions known as junior high band concerts.

Making me learn how to do laundry at 10 years old was really smart. I totally get it now.

I know now why I couldn't have a veil for my First Communion, and I'm sorry I was so sullen about it.

I understand now how exhausting it was for you when Dad was traveling.

You didn't fulfill your dream of Australia until this year because, among other things, you were spending precious travel money on family trips planned around my academic competitions.

Thanks for listening to me ramble on about whatever latest obsession, even though there was probably some show that you really wanted to watch instead.

You probably took the burnt piece of toast, the piece of cake with less frosting, and the butt of the loaf of bread.

I know that your heart broke every time I treated you poorly and every time I was hurting. I never quite appreciated that until my three-year-old said he didn't like me.

I don't know if you feel like a success or a failure, or if you still second-guess yourself. I don't know if you remember all the things you gave. I can't remember all of them, either, but you should know that I will take the burnt toast, go to the torturous band concerts, and listen patiently, and in that lies your success as a mother. I will do anything I can for the hearts living outside of my body, as you did for the heart living outside of yours.

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