My Mom turns a certain age tomorrow, the kind The Beatles sang about, “….would you still need me, would you still feed me, when I’m….” yeah, that age.
I still see her as mid-twenties, as that was the first face of my childhood, the one I longed to see every waking moment, the one I reached for each morning and kissed every night.
Searching back in my memory, and attempting to navigate past the photos that make up the pathway, I attempt to recall the first true moments that shaped my life. Indelibly, there is always Mother.
Sadly, I can’t recall the the earliest every day moments that make up a life, such as the tears from scraping my knee, the spilled juice box, nor the first words attempted. All I can see is her, holding and cradling me, smiling and talking and softly singing to me, giving me everything I would ever need to grow, learn, and succeed. And that’s all that matters when you’re little, to know you are loved and cared for. In reality, I guess that’s all that really matters in life at all, is that maybe someone still loves you like a Mother once did when you were first born.
I recall BigWheels and her pushing me, with a smile, as I raced through the house.
Holding my sister, Heather, two years younger than me, arriving in our lives, and my chance to hold and kiss her, I can see the pleased look on Mother’s face.
I feel the butterflies of the first day of pre-school in Oklahoma, her picking me back up and asking if I liked school, and how much I loved the comfort of her embrace.
The friend of mine, in pre-school, who told me he thought my Mom was the prettiest of all the Moms. I agreed. How the friends told me that through middle and high school, even today, and I still agree.
Her laugh, her play, rolling on the floor and tickling me – fully present, constantly engaged in all I did.
Comforting me upon my return from the first day of kindergarten in our new home in Park City, UT, after I had been made fun of on the bus and in the classroom for my big mouth. How she said I wasn’t ugly, even if they said I was, but that yes, I did have a big mouth, and it could be used for smiling at mean people. And then she read me stories such as Dumbo that made me realize we all have something to offer no matter how we look – my goodness how her teachings have shaped my life, my message and mission to the world.
As the siblings began to multiply in our home, I became more naughty and challenging. She had to discipline us, and equally love us, while Dad traveled to keep a roof over our heads and provide the necessities and comforts of life. Many nights I was in time-out, fearfully awaiting the return of Father, but not because of the potential spanking (which was allowed, and encouraged, back then), rather the sadness at knowing I had made Mother disappointed.
Each year of school I was to be held back due to learning challenges, focus issues, teachers suggesting medications to control myself, while Mother said no, and pushed on in teaching me herself. Proving to the teacher I could make it, day after day, Mother sat in the classroom as Classroom Mom, cleaning up after all of us, doing projects, making it fun, and then would stay after school and read aloud with me to prove to the teacher I could move forward.
I still wonder: Where were my brothers and sisters at this time? By now there were 5 of us, I was the oldest, but it seemed like all her time was spent on me. Yet I ask my siblings what they thought, and theirs was the same: She was always with each of us, individually, alone, somehow. How did she do this?
I recall being unable to sleep, the ideas and creations of art and writing exploding in my brain, and how she would walk through the house, holding my hand, as the night traumas raged. Patiently she went, she must have thought I was insane, what is happening to her son? And yet, she never complained, just wandered through the house with me all night if needs be.
Any time of night, if I went in her room, her eyes were open. Even laying in bed, she was awake, as if waiting for us to arrive, ready to help, serve, get us a drink of water. I remembered wondering if she ever slept?
As the middle school years came in a blur I remember having teachers that damaged me psychologically and how Mama Bear came to my defense, and did all in her power to make things right. And then in high school, when projects were due, how she would stay up all-night, literally, helping me get the report done for history, the poster ready for the dance, the fliers made as I ran for President.
The image we create in our minds of what we want in a Mother of our children, a Spouse, a best friend, are what my Mom was to me.
Seeing my wife now, as the Mother in our lives, I see all of the same as my Mom did for me. It is uncanny how history repeats itself, and how little things bring up thoughts of the past, and all I can do is laugh in reminiscence, and be supremely grateful for the Mother who raised me.
I call her now, really late at night, and if she’s not talking to another of my siblings then it’s my turn. We all call. We can’t help it. I talk with my Mom about 3 times per week, and we laugh, and vent, and figure out how to solve the world’s problems. Mostly to share a funny part of the day with the kids, or to see if I can help with anything. But lately it seems it is to say Thank You for teaching me, or an experience just happened with my babies that I remember she and I had.
It’s all about Thank You now.
I am one of the lucky ones. I am 37 and still have a Mom in good health, high spirits, and willing to watch my children. I understand the sacred blessing that I have a Mom still on this earth. And there is nothing like watching the first person you love be with your offspring and feel of the love between Grandma Nana and your babies.
She still rolls on the floor. She laughs and tickles. She disciplines when needed and in turn kisses and embraces them. She is the same as she was with me.
The Ultimate Mother. That’s what she was, is, and always will be to me.
“…will you still need me…when I’m sixty-four?”
Yes, we do. I love you.
Happy Birthday, Mom.