It was 7:00 the morning of Emma’s First Communion, and I already had been up for two hours prepping for the
intimate gathering sacramental bender for 65 people following the ceremony.
My mom arrived earlier in the week, and we had been prepping ever since. We sipped coffee as our eyes scanned the room, our list-making brains doing their thing.
“The succulents don’t look right in that planter – they aren’t raised up enough or something.” I mumbled quietly to myself. Or so I thought.
But in the time it took for me to park Phoebe in front of Frozen, my mother had abandoned her coffee and disappeared. I looked out the kitchen window and there she was, in my backyard wearing her nightgown and robe, gathering bricks from my garage. Sweet Jesus. She’s collecting bricks to raise up the succulents.
My mom is a fixer, a do-er, a woman of action. She is also a listener – she hears your plight, and it becomes her mission to make it better.
When I was a teenager, I resented her fixing. I thought she was trying to fix me. I thought she was trying to make me better – when really she was just trying to make things better….for me.
Now I am a mother, and I see things from the other side. Mothers are helpers. We help our children into the world, and then we help them navigate their way through it. We help them to stand, use the bathroom, write their name, ride a bike….the list is endless. The helping is easy – it’s the not helping that’s hard. The world seems so big and scary; danger and disappointment around every corner. It all feels so huge and urgent.
This is the bitch of motherhood. While we wish we had a magic wand to make all things better for our kids, sometimes the trick is not to fix, but allow. To allow and make space for their sadness, their failures, their odd but passionate love for t-shirts featuring animals wearing bedazzled sunglasses.
Some nights Emma cries when I tuck her in. She misses her friends in Massachusetts, where “she was one of the planets moving around the sun.” Now she is just a “lone planet.” My throat gets tight and my brain goes into fix-it mode: A new puppy, a trampoline, a call to 1-800-RENT-A-FRIEND….anything to make it better. But I can only listen, or cuddle, or on really desperate nights, promise to paint pottery at Color Me Mine.
And I think of all the times my mom must have felt this way: When I didn’t make the cheerleading squad, got teased for my bad skin, failed my math test
again, had my heart broken. How those events hurt her as much as they hurt me.
More. They hurt her more.
So I want to say thank you, Mom.
Thank you for all the times you drove me back to school to retrieve my flute from my locker, for staying up past midnight helping me with my First Lady report on Jackie Kennedy, my African Serengeti diorama, the Eqyptian pyramid out of sugar cubes. Thank you for changing “candy stripper” to “candy striper” on my college applications.
Thank you for saving every artifact of my childhood: my Lolly Dolly, my bound and illustrated story of Pete the Planaria, and my peach, taffeta 8th grade graduation dress. Even 23 years later, it still makes a statement:
Thank you for answering the phone 12 years ago when Phil called during our 24-hour “break-up,” and for telling him I was on a date with Danny Saland, even though I hadn’t seen Danny Saland since 12th grade, and for the record no one has called him “Danny” since 8th grade. It’s Dan.
Thank you for planting my tulip bulbs and for the buying/ironing/application of bed skirts (aka. “dust ruffles”) to my beds, things we both know would never happen if left under my tutelage. Thank you for reciting your cheeseball recipe for the 78th time because I always lose the post-it note I scribbled it on, for buying me a recipe box even though you know I will never use it, for mailing me a random newspaper wedding announcement of a girl from my Brownie Troop, an obituary of a priest I guess I should remember, and Bed Bath and Beyond coupons with a sticky note: “For the duvet cover clips.”
Thank you for spoiling my kids, for giving them rolls with lots of butter for breakfast but still making them eat broccoli for dinner, for hiding in a closet every time Emma comes home from school during one of your visits. Thank you for always having new Sponge Bob toothbrushes at your house so I don’t have to remember to pack them. Thank you for taking the girls to the Florham Park Roller Rink and ACTUALLY ROLLER SKATING, for buying them socks at Costco, for playing ONE MORE GAME of Old Maid…for loving my children so much that you cry when they cry.
Thank you for the times you let me reject your help. For letting me make my own
mistakes decisions when every fiber of your being wanted to scream “NOOOOOO!” Like when I flew out to Chicago to visit a boyfriend you already knew was gay, or moved in with Phil before we were married, or chose cash over Waterford crystal as a wedding gift from Nannie. You stayed silent. Because some decisions aren’t meant to be fixed, but owned and assimilated by the person who made them.
Yet here you are, the Brick Lady in your seashell robe, risking back injury and neighborhood gossip so my succulents will stand tall and proud. And that doesn’t feel like fixing. It feels like love. And I need that as much at age 36 as I did at 16…or six.
Thanks for taking care of me, Mom. Please don’t ever stop.
Happy Mother’s Day xoxo
Reblogged this on M.A.S.H and commented:
I hope all you lovely MASH mums enjoy this beautiful story – and rest assured that one day words like these will come from your child’s lips. For now love them. I love the bit that says
‘sometimes the trick is not to fix, but allow. To allow and make space for their sadness, their failures’…
thank you for sharing this. A very insightful and inspiring post.
Reblogged this on i.d.l.i.f.e.arg and commented:
I love this one.
Beautiful.. I really enjoyed reading every word of it .. thanks for sharing 🙂
You are welcome! Thank you for reading and commenting;)
this is so wonderful…:)
I was crying started on the 2nd line up to the end. All these are simple yet worth remembering. From childhood up to your children’s childhood. Moms should and always be loved! thanks for this one!
You are so welcome! I am happy it spoke to you.
no, i should thank you! keep it up!
Really beautiful post. My mum has to repeat me the same recipe 78 times as well 😀
Hahaha and I still don’t have the damn cheesball recipe. Lol
What a beautiful picture of you two. Mom’s are the best, thanks for sharing your story.
Beautifully written and artistically presented. Thank you.
Thank you, Barbara, for reading and commenting! xoxo
nice post 🙂
Hope my girls will still their mum. You both look enchanting
OOps Sorry what I meant to say was “hope my girls will still want me”
Wow I love this, this is gorgeous x
I immediately called my mom after reading this, thanks for posting!
This is so true.. mother daugher relationship is so complex and yet beautiful..:) and we start to understand it as we grow older.. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this. A very insightful and inspiring post.
this is cute!
I’m sure nothing would have made your mom happier than reading this wonderful post. Thanks for posting, loved it! Happy Mother’s Day to two amazing mothers! 🙂
It doesnt matter how old we are, we still need our mums. They are angels from heaven. I dont know what i would have done without my mum…
Oh, this made me tear up. This reminds me of my mom. She’s also a fixer, a do-er, a helper. This was beautiful to read.
Wonderful blog. I miss my mum so much.
Reblogged this on Kamille Torres and commented:
I just had to reblog THIS.
A beautiful tribute.
Reblogged this on Live,Laugh,Smile,Bollywood.
Beautiful! We always need our moms 🙂
What a lovely post. Given the number of post about the strength of mothers we have had this month ( http://sophiaspockets.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/the-strength-to-survive-with-grace/ ) it is clear a lot of us still need help from our mom’s.
What a lovely post. Your mother apparently loves you a great deal. How sweet of you to honor her with these words!
I really enjoyed this post. Reminded me much of my mom and how she was with me and is now with my child!
Reblogged this on Soon-to-be-Published and commented:
This is absolutely beautiful. I know Mother’s day has passed but I can’t not reblog this post.
This was perfect! Thanks for sharing!
This made me cry and actually be a lot more grateful for my mother. Thank you!
Awesome post. My mom mom has Alzheimers but you have inspired me to write something for mom and not just the tribute to my daughter.
Reblogged this on emmapetite and commented:
Thank you for sharing. I love this much.
Loved it! Even though my mom sometimes annoys me, she also can comfort me with funny ideas and fond memories.
Very powerful post. Theres nothing better than unconditional love. Sounds like you had a fantastic mother.
Thank you for sharing. I just lost my mom suddenly and wish I had written something like this to her before she went. I really enjoy your blog.
Thank you Ryan, and I am so sorry about your mom. Sending some healing energy your way. xoxo
I don’t even understand how I stopped up here, however I assumed
this post used to be good. I don’t recognize who you are but definitely you are going to a well-known blogger in the
event you aren’t already. Cheers!
Thank you! Cheers to you!