When I first joined the ranks of Facebook, Mother’s Day was not one of my favorite days to browse my feed. Everyone was sending virtual flowers and hugs and sharing poems and songs and singing the praises of women they claimed were “World’s Best Mom”.
Clearly there could be only one rightful owner of that title, and that was my mother Meg. But after a while I learned that, while people were satisfied with letting me childishly bestow that title upon my mother – even calling me “sweet” and “precious” and a “great child” – they took as much offense to me trying to reserve that title for my mom alone as I did for them attempting the same.
In the end, I reached a mental compromise: others may not think Meg is the best mother ever in the whole wide world history of mankind notwithstanding, but she is the best mother for me.
I like to think God took one look at my soul, saw all of my potential, and said, “Heh. Here you go, Meg and Calvin. You should take this one.” Thank you, God, for Your wisdom, because You couldn’t have placed me with a better family.
Our pastor opened the floor this evening, as he sometimes does on holidays, for people to give testimony to the mothers and mother-figures in their lives. Like every time this happened, I warred with myself over raising my hand. I had things to say, and they were really good. But I couldn’t bring myself to speak. Because I just knew I would get it all wrong.
Also, my mother slipped out early to join Eli at a showing of the new Captain America, and my trying to thank her for her service in front of a crowd of Baptists while she was at the cinema would have been awkward.
So here’s what I wanted to say:
I have one wild legacy to live up to.
Not just that of my mother, whom we will get to in a moment, but that of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Living or dead, they shadow my life. In everyday moments one of my relatives will step back, squint, and point them out to me. “That’s a Mrs. Morryce thing.” “You got that from your mother’s family.”
I was raised to be proud of my genes, and to recognize all of the gifts they have given me: a work ethic, intelligence, artistic and musical talent, a knack for conversing well with strangers (which can be unnerving when the strangers sense this on days when you don’t want to converse), a giving spirit, a love for growing things, a strong sense of history.
Of course, as with every family, there are lessons to be learned in the legacies which my ancestors have passed down. Not everything is sunshine and roses and saints, and I’ve come to grips with that. Additionally, all of those great character traits were balanced with a plethora of physical shortcomings. My mind better stay sharp as long as possible, because odds are against me as far as my body goes.
But, on the whole, that hasn’t stopped women on either side of my family. I am surrounded with a history of strong, talented women.
Sometimes I am convinced my mother is superhuman.*
Nothing stops her. She never sets limits to what she can do; she just continues to push her limits until she reaches knew levels of awesome.
I have never doubted that either of my parents loved me and wanted the absolute best for me and my siblings. From the start they recognized and encouraged our individuality. They pushed us to be all we could and more. They never hesitated to sacrifice so we could pursue our dreams.
My mother has worn so many hats that I have given up trying to keep track of them. She is an artist, a counselor, a mechanic, a chicken lady, a babysitter, a chef, and a musician. She is empathetic, intuitive, sharp-witted, a quick learner, confident, and kind. She is a master of improvising. She wears herself ragged most days, giving beyond her means so other people can thrive.
Yes, she has her struggles, but she is open about most of them. She confronts them face-on and never backs down, even when she stumbles.
She has quite the reputation wherever she goes. This came in handy when I was a teen, because I had “the cool mom”. It wasn’t awkward for Mom to tag along for events, because the other kids wanted her there. I’ll admit I loved their jealousy, just a little. I loved – I still love – being Meg’s daughter.
Yes, even when she goes crazy at the sight of a new, apparently single young man taking a seat a few pews in front of us. I might seem to gripe about it, but even with this weird new habit I wouldn’t change a thing about my mother. I know that it is her maternal instinct and her desire to see her children taken care of which drives this habit, and I appreciate it.
Sometimes I get frustrated and determine to move out as soon as possible, but I honestly don’t know what I would do without my mother nearby. Phone calls don’t cut it when you need your hair trimmed, your car checked, your outfit scrutinized, or someone on hand to “get” you when you’ve had too much caffeine.
My mom was not my best friend growing up; she was my counselor, my defender, my advocate, and my teacher. Now our relationship has morphed into something more like friendship, because I am more independent now. However, it is still her shoulder I want when I feel overwhelmed or confused. When I need to check in with someone to be assured that I’m still sane, I go to her. She still gets most of my jokes. She knows which spice to add to my newest cooking endeavor, and she knows the exact words to ease my nerves when I’m overthinking a situation.
I realize I am incredibly blessed. I know too well that many people don’t have what I have. I know that many people do not find their mother-figure in the woman who gave birth to them, but must look elsewhere, or must make do without. Knowing all thinks makes me continually grateful that, where mothers are concerned, I have not been wanting.
So you may never read this, Mom, but I’ll be sure to tell you, a little every day, so you never forget how much you mean to me.
And I will continue to expound upon your virtues to all of my friends, because they know it’s true, too.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.
*On a totally unrelated note, I have Nina convinced that I am developing psychic abilities. I keep getting these shooting headaches behind my eyes or in my temples. Admittedly, I play up the pain, leaning over and groaning and waiting for my telepathy to kick in. So perhaps my mother truly is superhuman. It would explain some things.