Someone asked me once what I want my kids to remember, when they are grown, about the kind of mother they had. I have thought about this many times, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are things I know they’ll remember, things I hope they’ll remember, and things I fear they’ll say about me. That last category is terrifying.
When your baby cheeks have thinned and your excitement for 6 a.m. has waned and you’re a boring old grownup who pays bills and growls about taxes, what will you say when people ask you about your mother? What was she like? First, here are things I am sure you’ll recall.
- You’ll remember that your mom almost always wore a ponytail and hardly ever wore makeup.
- You’ll recall that she, far more than Daddy, made you eat fruit and vegetables and go to bed at a real “bedtime.”
- You’ll say your mom was a writer. (You better, anyway.)
- You’ll say that your mom drove you to school, and to practice, and to games, and to the library, and to your friends’ houses…
- And your mom always picked you up.
- Unfortunately, you’ll also recall that your mother lost her patience. And she yelled. And once in a while cried on a really bad day.
But here are some things I truly hope you remember about me as well:
- I hope you remember that I never put myself or Daddy down. That I was very committed to setting an example of positive self-worth for you. And that we wanted you to see how much we loved and supported each other.
- I hope you recall me exercising (occasionally) and how I talked about getting stronger. And also that sometimes you exercised with me too.
- Will you remember the times I was fun? I hope so. I know it wasn’t as often as Daddy, but I tried.
- I hope you think about all the times we read together, curled up on the couch, sounding out words at first and then delving into themes and characters and plot-lines of novels.
- I hope you remember that you made me laugh, every day.
- I hope you know how hard I tried for you. I tried in every way a mother should. I tried to keep you safe. I tried to keep you happy. I tried to keep you healthy. I tried to expose you to a myriad of experiences, so you didn’t fit into one square space. I tried to keep you close, and I tried to let you go.
Finally, and this part is hardest to write, I am afraid of the following:
- I fear that you will remember a mom who yelled too much and who seemed unhappy.
- I fear that you will say I missed stuff — not games and recitals and performances, because I was there for those. But that I missed opportunities to sit on the floor with you and play. Or take an extra long walk on a sunny day rather than going in to start dinner.
- I am afraid that you will hear of other mothers who were different, who did more, and think I was not good enough.
- I am afraid you won’t know how much I loved each of you, especially for how unique and amazing you were as individuals.
- I fear that you won’t know how much my entire existence was wrapped around all of you. That you made me who I am.
What will you say, when people ask you about your mother? I do know this. You will say she was always there.