How Do We Do Justice To Moms?

To mothers:

There is only one day on the calendar each year reserved specifically to recognize your tireless, selfless, heroic work. Surely it is not enough. For moms work 24 hours a day, 365 days per year without breaks, without pay, and too often…without appreciation. That work doesn’t end when we leave the house either. Who do we call for help scheduling our first dentist appointment? Mom.

From infancy to adulthood you’re the ones we look to for support, advice, encouragement, comfort. When we’re sick you’re the one with the right remedy. Sometimes it seems you have superpowers. Maybe it’s motherly intuition. Moms can sense fear or angst. They often know what’s wrong before we do.

With only two arms you can juggle bills, laundry, school, sports, lunch money, the dishes, cooking, cleaning…I might be forgetting something but I bet Mom would remember. Somehow you know exactly where that important document is in the cluttered drawer. We use the same recipe but only your food always tastes just right.

For centuries mothers were primarily confined to a patronizing role inside the house. Then modern life required you to work a “normal” job in addition to the all-consuming tasks of motherhood. Men occupy the vast majority of powerful positions in business and government. Those who are qualified would not be so without the influence of strong committed mothers. Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, LBJ, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were proud mama’s boys. We have failed as a country by not electing more women to public office at the highest levels. The mess we’re in now could have been prevented if maybe we had some more mothers and grandmothers calling the shots.

Popular culture glorifies toughness, manliness, and stoicism in America. Watch a pro football game or action movie. Still somehow you teach us empathy, caring, compassion, and love. You never sat us down for a lesson on those important qualities. But as we age we grow to appreciate them–unmistakably from your examples.

I admit it is difficult to recall everything we sons and daughters should appreciate about our mothers. Part of the magic is that it seems so effortless how they say the right words, handle all the crises, clean up all the messes. There are occasionally those brief moments when we acknowledge the heroism of our mothers. They take place more as we age. Still, their impact on us is so profound and fundamental that one day a year, or one newspaper column, does not do you justice.

There’s one thing true for all mothers in my experience. A big hug, “thanks for everything, I love you” will do the trick for now. Thanks moms!

Derek Smith is a Frewsburg native.

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