A philosophy professor told me years ago that the essence of culture is transmitted from generation to generation through mothers. Indeed the magnitude of a mother’s influence over her children runs deeper than any other influence imaginable.
But motherhood is so much larger than culture. Without mothers, human life grinds to a halt and our species is gone. That’s one heavy burden to bear.
And yet here we are, precisely why we celebrate the very people who shoulder the burden of humanity: our mothers.
For the record, I’m not big on commercialized “Hallmark-greeting-card days.” But I’m willing to make an exception for Mother’s Day because if anyone deserves their own day, it’s our moms. And at the very least, Mother’s Day invites reflection.
So in lieu of a greeting card here’s my reflection: Almost twenty years ago I lost my sweet, loving mother. If I could turn back the clock and talk to her once more, what would I say?
Thank you for giving me life.
Thank you for taking responsibility to care for and nurture me.
Thank you for talking to me when I was a toddler.
Thank you for singing to me.
Thank you for kindling my appreciation for and love of music.
Thank you for teaching me the cha-cha when I was four years old.
Thank you for making my transition to kindergarten an exciting adventure instead of a scary leap into the unknown. I still remember you saying over and over, “Tim, you’re such a big boy, you get to go to school, it’s going to be so much fun!”
Thank you for calming me as we entered kindergarten class that first day and the crazy kid in front of us threw a tantrum, knocked over the card table, and scattered tags and pins all over the floor. “He’s not a big boy yet, Tim,” you whispered in my ear, “but you ARE!” And at that moment, in my 5-year-old head, I believed I was a big boy.
Thank you for continuing to encourage and build me up through all my trials and tribulations in grade school (especially that horrendous year in fifth grade with the crazy nun who made my life hell).
Thank you for putting up with my adolescent moodiness and aloofness, and continuing to love me even when I wasn’t at all lovable.
Thank you for sticking with me through my rebellious years, and for keeping me connected to my family during my darkest days.
Thank you for helping me reconcile with dad when I was convinced he didn’t care. (You were right, he did.)
Thank you for writing to and encouraging me in my transition to military life, you have no idea how much your letters and phone calls helped.
Thank you for your understanding and support while I spent ten years carving out my niche on the other side of the planet.
Thank you for being the loving, nurturing person that you were, and leaving a legacy of kindness, compassion and respect for others. Your spirit lives on in your children.
And thank you to all the good mothers out there for doing what you do. Enjoy your special day.
A final thought: how about we all try to love, appreciate and celebrate our mothers and spouses and children and siblings and friends every single day of the year, and see how that goes?
In the meantime, Happy Mother’s Day!
Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2014