what is a mom?

One’s mother. (Dictionary.com)

A female parent. (Merriam-Webster)

A woman whose egg unites with a sperm, producing an embryo. (American Heritage Medicine)

A woman who has borne a child. (Webster’s New World)

Also significant from Webster’s New World:

A stepmother.

An adoptive mother.

It is true that we each have a mother; we can’t be born without one. It is also true that we aren’t all capable of being a mother. So let us not fail to celebrate and give gratitude. Let us also not fail to be sensitive to those for whom this is hard. The reality is that our celebration does not exclude nor preclude our sensitivity. (A note for a future blog post: that’s one thing current culture really struggles with… we get dazed and confused in what we conclude as mutually exclusive… but alas, we digress..)

As we honor our mothers today, allow me a bit of a personal reflection — just sharing from my experience. Remember, of course, that each of our experiences are different. And that’s ok. It’s actually beautiful, too. We learn from one another…

My story is such that I have the very humbling joy and privilege to be the mother to three budding young men. Their gifts and personalities are distinct; we each have great, trusting relationships. No girls in my family. I figure God knew what he was doing as I still can’t tie a bow.

But when my oldest was born, I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I felt this immediate, almost unconditional love for him. It’s like it came out of nowhere! It soon dawned on me that my mom must have felt that, too. That instant, agape kind of love.

When he was not even one and sent off in the ambulance due to emergency, unexplainable seizures, I remember never feeling fear like that before. This was different. This was deeper. I was so scared. I needed to trust in more than me, as this situation was so out of my control. I have no doubt I must have scared the living daylights out of my mom, too, some days. Not all my decisions were wise ones.

That fear only intensified when my youngest would fight for his life only five years later. Talk about a situation being out of our control. I learned then the intensity of a mother’s fear… even when the kid has no idea. Even when the mom says nothing. My older sons couldn’t see my fear. Sometimes as a mom it became oh-so-clear that it was not about me. It wasn’t. My mom knew that, too.

I remember, also, all those major pride moments… striking out the side, dancing the best routine of their life, going to prom, picking out a new car, or maybe the first time my youngest with special needs was successful at cooking eggs (including a wee bit of egg shell, of course). “You celebrate each kid exactly where they are.” No competition involved. I know now how proud my mom must have been.

Then there’s those big moments, the really big ones… when they graduate, choose a college, get that first job with a real paycheck with more than a singular zero. It’s fun to watch them — fun to watch them gain confidence in themselves, become increasingly more self-aware… again, even if they don’t notice we are watching. I know my mom was watching me. Sharing in that pride, no doubt.

And then there’s that leaving home. Ah, yes. That’s a harder one. But we’ve trained them for this — encouraged them to be independent. It’s time. And so we affirm and hug and say our goodbyes — but as soon as that car pulls out of the drive, the silent tears begin to more generously flow. I know my mom cried them, too. Those are good tears.

Yes, there’s something special about a mom.

Let me say again for some moms, I know this is a hard day.  There is still something deeply special about you.