This Mother’s Day, I want to take a moment to thank the two greatest mothers in the history of the world: my mother, and my wife.
I knew my mother first, of course. If I could somehow probe the recesses of my brain and call up my first memory, it would no doubt be of Mom’s face. She was the center of the universe for a brood of five kids. She taught us how to behave and treat grown-ups with politeness and respect, to wash behind our ears and to “put some elbow grease” into our household chores. She made sure we got to doctor’s appointments and had school supplies and clean clothes. She encouraged us in our successes and comforted us in our failures — and, in fact, she still does.
So much responsibility! I knew it was a tough job, because one of my most distinct childhood memories was when my mother, that paragon of positivity, burst into tears after our bad behavior had finally gotten on her last nerve. She sat down on a stoop that connected our kitchen to our living room and sobbed. The effect on the kids was like a loud thunderclap on an otherwise clear summer day. My God! What had we done? We quieted down immediately and sat down beside her, telling her we were sorry and promised never to do it again — which turned out to not be true, of course.
I got a different perspective on how hard it is to be a mother when Kish and I decided to have children. So much studying to do, with books from T. Berry Brazelton and Dr. Spock and others about infants and their development, when they should start walking and talking, and how best to provide a secure yet stimulating environment! And research on things like the safest cribs, and how you should lay children down to sleep. Kish’s copies of these books were dog-eared, underlined, and highlighted weeks before Richard arrived. And once he and Russell did arrive, Kish’s feelings of pride and worry and joy and concern about every step they took along the way to adulthood surged forward and were displayed, transparently and unabashedly, for all to see, every day and every night.
Those feelings remain as strong as ever, even though the boys have left the house. They’re obviously never far from her mind, and as much as she might enjoy the company of me and the dogs, only the appearance of the kids can bring that special, happy look to her face. They are, and will always be, the light of her life. I guess that’s what being one of the best mothers in the world is all about.
Tonight the two greatest mothers in the history of the world will be together, with their entire families, to munch on some pizza and celebrate Mother’s Day. For them, that will be the greatest Mother’s Day gift of all.