Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mother's Day to my mom

My mom has the kind of guts most people wish for. As in, ‘I wish I could, but... .’
My mother changed her life and mine for the better.
With a 3-year-old in tow, she flew from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Honolulu to marry a man she'd met a handful of times. This Mother's Day is also their 28th anniversary.
As I approach my 6th anniversary with my husband and my son nears his fourth birthday, I wonder at the sheer chutzpah it must have taken for her to get on that plane.
It takes nerve to be a mom these days.
In a society where marriage is not an iron-clad guarantee of partnership, where other people have a huge say in how a parent can raise a child, and in which children seem to grow up faster than ever before, having a baby is a huge responsibility.
Moms take advice from everyone. Their own mothers and mothers-in-law are chief dispensers, but add pediatricians, other moms, day-care workers, schoolteachers, parenting magazines and the government, and a mom learns early on to nod and smile, then forge her own path.
Moms live with the awareness that their children are reflections of themselves. And modern moms live with the knowledge that any anonymous phone call to DFCS can turn their families inside out in an effort to prove that a spanking is not the same as a beating and that when a child cries it does not always mean he or she is being abused.
Moms have to deal with the fear every day that when their child walks out the door, he or she might not make it back home. Yet, when a mom tells her child to check in, or be back by a certain time, she's a mean mom.
It takes nerve to be a mom. It takes nerves of steel to be a mean mom.
They make us wash behind our ears an brush our teeth. They make us study our multiplication tables and do our homework before going out to play. They enforce bedtimes and make us clean up our rooms.
They teach us to live with the disappointment of not having a second piece of cake and to live for the pride in earning our first paycheck. They teach us to laugh, cry and love.
Mean moms expect their children to follow rules, even if it means both mother and child cry about it. One of the hardest things a mean mom does is discipline her child following a major rule infraction.
Mean moms expect their children to achieve, and mean moms cry when the kids do well. One of a mean mom's greatest moments is when her child graduates. Kindergarten, grade school, high school, college. To really make a mean mom cry, make albums of photos and mementos from her child's greatest moments.
Then give her a grandchild.
Because a mom's happiest moment is when she knows her child is going to go through all the worry she did, but that they will have the chutzpah to make it.
I moved to Macon instead of Hawaii.
It's a 12 hour trip to visit my family, and my mom watches her grandson grow up the same way her mother watched me grow up: through pictures and phone calls. Oh, e-mail and a digital camera make it easier to send the pictures, and I can scan in my son's artwork for her to see. But it's not the same as getting a big hug and sticky kiss every day.
And I am learning to respect what my mom went through.
I can call every day, or five times a day, thanks to modern cell-phone plans that don't charge for long distance. She didn't have that luxury.
My husband is home with our son while I am at work. My mom married a Navy sailor. At his retirement, we figured he had been deployed nine of the first 15 years they had been married. She was home with two daughters while her husband went to a war zone.
It took 30 years, but I have finally come up with a word for the way my mom has lived: chutzpah.
Happy Mother's Day, mom.

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