Wednesday, May 5, 2010

For Mother's Day

"A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world.  It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."

-----Agatha Christie

I'm not a mother, so I can't speak to the truth of this sentiment from that end, but from the perspective of a daughter it feels right to me.  What a strange thing to grow up thinking that all your thoughts are your own, only to learn later that much of what felt groundbreaking, was ground already covered by your mother.   The slow revelation of a child to their parent is matched in complexity and sweetness only by the slow revelation of parent to child.  My mom was the first person I ever knew, and will be one of the few people that I can never truly know.  There are no secrets, only a cloud of a thousand points of connection that obscures a mother in a way that others aren't.  When I was a little girl and my mom would tell a story about something that happened before I was born I would ask her over and over, "But where was I?"  I could never understand how there was a time before I existed.  How could she, my mom, have been before I was?  I couldn't exist without her and it seemed unreal that she did, before there was a me. 

I've been blessed by a complicated, profoundly interested and interesting, funny, compassionate, and steely mother who has loved me enough to cover distances and troubles I couldn't conceive of as a kid.  I've been loved enough for a room of people.  When my dad died, she loved me enough for both of them.  When I've been weak and scared she's loved me into action.  When I've had my heart broken, she's loved me back together again.  The love of my mom will always carry me just a little further than I thought I could go. 

I've always adored my mom and told everyone who would listen how funny and smart she is and how my mom can do this, and make that, and knows how this thing and that works.  My mom can create a pot from clay she dug from the creek and paint it with homemade glaze. She can make straight As while working thirty six hours a weekends and being a single parent. She can grow and can the best green beans, recover from stuff that would make a weaker woman fall, and she can fix anything. She can stand up to anyone. She can knit, draw, crack a filthy joke, heal the sick, find anything online, and do the things that other people are afraid of, like moving to a new town and starting fresh.  She can get in the trenches with anyone, do voices for every pet we've ever had, learn to do everything she's ever tried to, and make someone feel like the most special creature on earth. 

She's always resisted this view of her that I hold and always maintained that she could've been a better mother and done this or that differently.  She's made it a point to never hide or deny her imperfections.  What I had, though, was space to succeed and fail and a fertile place for my imagination to grow.  I was allowed to be myself at every age and that, trust me, took patience.  Even when I've felt like I was grabbing at air trying to find my place, I know that I still have a place wherever she is. To me, there is no better mother than that.

To this day, there is no one that can comfort me like my mom or make me trust myself when things get a little hairy.  She has always told me to keep my chin up and it's become a mantra for my life.  It's how I face my fears and leap head first, even when I want to run.  People tell me sometimes that I'm strong or that I'm confident and I always think, I'm impersonating her.  What would mom do?  The old joke of turning into your mother is no joke here. I talk to myself, sing to my pets, dance in the kitchen, constantly fight the battle against being a pack rat, and rarely back down from a challenge. She'll never know, though, that no matter what I become I'll always strive to be a woman after her example.  No matter what, I'll always be her button.  I love you Mom!

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