Dear Readers – I know that I’ve posted this one before – each year at Mother’s Day, in fact. I can’t help but post it again. It’s tradition. And it’s true.
Who is it that is The World’s Best Mom – I mean the real one?
I hear today’s mothers talk about how difficult it is to raise children. It is. Today’s mother fills so many roles: care-giver, taxi driver, social secretary, tutor, short order cook, therapist, and laundress to name a few. Many times, today’s mother is also an employee, working part or all of the week outside of the home. You might think that the World’s Best Mom that I mentioned in my last post is one of these. Not so.
I know the woman that is written about on the covers of all those cards lining the shelves of your neighborhood grocery, drug store, or Hallmark location. Sometimes I think that the people who write the nostalgia that you read there have covertly followed this woman around for many, many years. Watching. Studying. Examining the methods, the skills, the seamless way that she somehow balances all that she does, with their pencils balanced in their hands, taking notes, jotting down words now and then to try to capture this magic.
They watch as she nurtures so many little ones simultaneously. Six children in a ten year span. She dresses them and feeds them. Dressing is not just pulling some clothes onto wriggling little bodies. They watch her late into the night, expertly guiding fabric through a Singer sewing machine – miraculously transforming bits of raw material into garments that stylishly adorn her children, her teens, her young adults, as they grow and mature.
She doesn’t drive through a fast food store or take the brood out for a restaurant dinner. No. Restaurants are meant for adults. The interlopers watch her in the spring as she wrestles with an old and battered tiller to turn the soil in the acre-large garden, in which she will sow the vegetables – corn, potatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, onions, cabbage, carrots – all in long rows which she will tend through the summer and harvest in the fall, storing up all that will be needed for the long winter. Her children are with her – being guided and taught, learning the difference between a weed and a plant that will bear their sustenance. The spies witness the tending of the poultry as it is carefully cleaned and frozen. They watch her on baking day, when she kneads the dough that will be baked into the most delicious loaves of bread and pans of rolls. They observe closely while she teaches the girls the finer points of jelly rolls, pancakes, and chocolate cake.
They see her thank God for each and every meal.
They watch in wonder as she earns a living, along with her husband – raising the wheat, the cattle, the hogs. They follow her when she is called to drive the truck, the tractor, the coffee and lunch to her husband while he works the land. Copious notes are taken during the harvest – she at the house: preparing the food for the hungry children and the harvesting crew, pickling and freezing the bounty from the garden, preparing her children for school, and sending them on the bus to the school in town.
With water running into one sink in the farm house, she keeps the home clean, washes the clothes, bathes her babies.
The sentiment writers are awestruck as this woman guides her young. She pushes them. She demands good things. Even when the child would rather take the easy way, she expects admirable results. She knows the value of work and teaches it to her children.
She reads to them. She writes and colors with them. She’s known to break into song at unpredictable moments. Old songs. Good songs. Perfect pitch. “I’m an old cow hand – from the Rio Grande.” She and her husband somehow purchase a piano. She sets the timer daily to insure that thirty solid minutes of practice are completed each day.
This woman gracefully, lovingly watches her children grow. She ushers them through graduations, sends them off to college, sews their wedding gowns, bakes and expertly decorates their wedding cakes. She turns them over to the world, knowing that they will do good things.
Still, the agents watch this woman go on. They are thrilled to joyous celebration when she becomes a grandmother; and humbled to tears as they watch her quietly, firmly, steadfastly reassure one of her own. “It’s alright, Judy, Mom’s here,” they hear her say, as she guides the daughter to life’s end.
They see her nurturing continue as she cares for the her husband in the last few of their 57 years together, while his once razor sharp mind diminishes to confusion and doubt.
Still, the agents see her smile, see her laugh, observe her delight in her grandchildren, all ten of them – each one receiving wisdom, comfort, cuddles and cookies.
These spies have been exposed to what motherhood is and are full of wonder at how this one woman could be so much to so many – year after glorious year! The operatives cannot imagine how they will express all of this and try so hard to contain all the meaning within a limited number of words, with fancy font on the front of a greeting card. The best they can produce is “World’s Best Mom.”
How do I know this woman? Well, if you were there: in the garden during the summer, on Main Street of the little town on Saturday night, on Sunday mornings at the little country church, you would have seen a little tow-headed girl, second youngest of the half-dozen, holding her mother’s hand. Staying close.
I know this woman. I am honored to say that she is my mother.
Love You, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day. You are the World’s Best.