To those individuals out there, who play any sort of mother role, “Happy Mother’s Day!” It’s definitely a challenging Mother’s Day, as many of us are not able to see our mother’s due to being in quarantine. To some, who have lost their mother’s it’s an extremely challenging day. The role of a mother to child is certainly the most complicated role in the world. Our mothers are the first things we know. We fall in love with their heartbeat, learn their voice, and are nourished for them before we even enter the world. Working in hospice care, I was always surprised that at the end of life, mother’s certainly address their own children, but they spent the most time (if there was one present and sometimes if there was one half or not present) discussing their mothers. It’s true memory recedes backward, but we model so much of ourselves after our mothers. We learn love, language, much of who we are from them. I can’t count the number of times, no matter how complicated someone’s relationship with their mother is, when things go wrong as an adult, they just want to phone their mom and hope to get calmed by her presence that ‘things will be ok.’ Working with families, couples, and adolescents, it’s always astounding at how much a mom gives to love. Admittedly, no one is perfect and often a mother knows she is not perfect, but she shows up. My mom is one of the few individuals, in this world, that I let my guard down. She can hear in my voice when I call or visit if I’m sick or if my heart is broken. She can just look at me and know instantaneously something is wrong. I don’t cry a lot, but if you asked my mom I do. It’s one of the largest dialectics we have in our life, we don’t want to see our mother see us sad and she’s the only person we want to know we are sad. My mom is quiet and introverted. She has a small group of friends that she is very loyal to, but her main priority is always our family. She is strong in a silent way. She is not showy. She operates by her convictions to do so. I could tell you a million things she has done for me in my life that have saved me. When she was very ill with cancer several years ago, she decided to go through with months of chemo, to get to a bone marrow transplant (which takes months/years to recover from). I remember her asking me privately what I would do before she determined to go through everything. I knew my answer was I probably would not do it. I could see in her eyes how much she was not ready to go. She just loves us that much. I told her it was something she had to decide herself and only she could decide it and I’d support whatever she chose. She chose to fight because that is who she is. She quietly fights for the people she loves and has been doing that since I have known her. She was in the hospital alone for almost a year. I don’t know how she did it, but she did. I don’t know, honestly, where I would be without my mom. She is literally my biggest ally, my best friend, and my greatest influence. It’s hard to write about someone who holds so much power in your life. I have several poems about her. I don’t think any of them do her justice at all. I’ve never written one that I feel does, and I wrote a book about dealing with the anticipatory grief of her being sick. The thing is my mom is in every poem, really because she gave me words. My mom religiously read to us every night. She shared some of her favorite books with myself and my sister. It was always exciting to hear her talk about why she loved that book and share memories of the first time she read it. She’s always believed in my intelligence, which is perhaps why it was one of the first things I declared I could accept about myself, as I struggled with accepting so many other things. She is not just a feminist, but she believes in equality for every one. She sees through labels and judgements, which I observed from an early age on, which gave me the ability and the opportunity to spend my life fighting for all people’s voices to be heard. While my mom was sick, I was desperately trying to hold it together. Inside I was falling a part. I realized though, sometime into the situation, that my mom will always be with me. To know my relationship with my mom, I just follow my writing. Although it might not be direct, she is in most of my poems. She is the reason I write poems. She taught me the power of language. How it connects us, heals us, teaches us. Today, I’m sharing a short poem about watching an interaction between my mother and dad after she was home and getting better. To me, it’s an example of how I learn from her every day. So, again, to all the moms out there, “Happy Mother’s Day!”
There are no fireworks yet.
My dad walks my down the driveway, arm and arm.
They will go from our newly paved driveway paid for by grandfather’s inheritance
to the next house and back.
They will do this twice a day.
My mom no longer feels the need to wear her wig.
She ties a tiny floral patterned rag around her head.
For some reason she reminds me of the corn husk dolls she was obsessed with making and selling when I was little,
brittle, with little facial features, except big dot eyes, and large bonnets.
Every time I watch this parade silently from a distance;
I marvel at how she clings to him and how seriously he takes this job of holding her up.
It’s almost hard to breathe.
It makes you feel foolish for ever wasting a kiss on the wrong person even if it might have felt like the right season.
No fireworks this early in the daylight, but my chest bangs, crackles, and fizzles,
as my heart tells me this might be the most important thing I will ever see.