Monday, May 9, 2011


The famous quote goes, "Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children."  That is incorrect.  Mother WAS God, the creator, the divine spark, the one who should be simultaneously loved, feared, obeyed and hated.  It's why the idea of a paternal deity is so hard for me to accept, because Father, for all his power, never held as much influence as Mother.

Mother was the nurterer, she who provides sustenance, the introducer of foods, the assigner of candied beets, the Torquemada overseeing the Grand Inquisition into whether we truly loved the "cheesy broccoli surprise" or not--and woe betide he who said 'nay'.  She was the one who convinced you wholeheartedly that chicken-fried pork chops were "nutritious."  She was the one who aged her marshmallow Peeps to the right amount of crunchiness.  She made the winter snowfall into a form of ice cream which to this day makes your mouth water.

Mother was the banker. She may not have owned the keys to the coinpurse initially but sooner or later they were hers.  She was the tax collector, the county assessor who determined, without any income or bonuses of her own, with a job that only began each day but never ended, what deductions she could make from the treasury to support what SHE needed.  If Father insisted that we save more money, it was only because she allowed him to.  She made Christmases memorable because money wasn't an object, and if it cost too much well, then fiddle-dee-dee Scarlett, tomorrow is another day and she would find a way to pay for it.

Mother was the doctor, the Hippocratic Queen.  She shot Band-Aids like a six-gun pistolero, she wielded the wand of Mercurochrome with the deftness of an ancient wizard.  Baby Aspirin and Ludens Cherry Cough Drops fell from her hands like sweet ambrosia.  She was the courier of school sick days, the Watcher who remained vigilant of you were sick or hurt.

Mother was the true disciplinarian, and if Father was the Screw who wielded the billy club with harsh justice, she was the Warden whose job it was to oversee behavior modification.  Her power lay in Guilt, because the worst beating you ever received paled in comparison to the look of disappointment on her face when you realized your screw up in the most Royal of Ways.  If "we'll just see how things go when your Father gets home" was the death knell, seeing her eyes welled with tears at your spanking was the killing blow, because she knew as you one day would that wisdom is often painful.

Mother was the Principal.  Your lunches, your homework, your field trip permission slips and report cards, all handled by her with the deftness of a pit boss in Vegas.  Whether she attended PTA meetings or helped out during birthday parties, her finger was on the pulse of your education.  She didn't fully understand your algebra, but she made damn sure YOU did before you went to bed at night.  Coordination was anything from taking you hunting for leaves as part of your science project to bringing you a snack during a late night study.

But Mother was also imperfect.  She'd tell you to watch your weight but have Ding Dongs and Chocodiles always within reach.  She'd talk about church and family and the worst family fights always followed the Sunday morning worship services.  She would tend to your every need but not watch out for herself when you noticed her smoking too much.  You couldn't win these fights, for she was always very stoic, and in her mind you didn't really have a damn thing to say given how often she had given of herself over the years.

Ironically, these were her most important lessons of all, because she was imperfect, she was a human being, and the one word you could always take away from these contemplations was sacrifice.  She had her weaknesses, but sacrificed her well-being for the family.  She lacked compassion to a degree, but only because she had personally experienced it.  She would feel disappointment even if you made the same mistakes she did, but only because she wanted you to always, always do better, to take advantage of the opportunities that she never did.

Finally, Mother was and will always be Love.  She never lost sight of your dreams, never lacked pride in your accomplishments, never took a hug or a kiss for granted.  Working ceaselessly to run a well-oiled household machine, she never asked for or expected thanks, which is why I write this now.  Mom, you make the world better just for being in it, and while I know you feel my gratitude, you would never be so proud to ask for it as payment for your endless work.

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