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It Is What It Is: The gift of a mom

It Is What It Is: The gift of a mom

As Mother’s Day approaches every year, I tend to spend a lot of time reflecting on my own mom and our relationship more than I do anything else. I mean, I obviously enjoy and honor that I’m a mom myself and have been for almost 21 years, but to me, the day is still more about celebrating my mom than my own motherhood. And while I know that might seem a little weird, it’s just how the day always plays out in my head.

So, it’s in that spirit of toasting my own mom that I’m sharing some thoughts about what she means to me and why. Because I have a funny feeling that an awful lot of us feel the very same way about these heroic, beautiful forces of nature who brought us into the world and raised us. Cause lemme tell you, without that woman I just plain wouldn’t be. It’s that simple.

On my wedding day, I surprised my mom by having my best friend sing a song to her on my behalf (because singing’s just never been my bag). The song was “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler. And while it was super-cheesy as far as songs to sing at your wedding, it was the most perfect song to describe what my mother grew to mean to me over the course of my life up to that day. And now, 25 years later, it’s as true now as it was then. Only so very much more. So much so that as I re-read these lyrics for the first time since my wedding, the tears are flowing so hard that I can barely see the words as I’m typing.

“It must have been cold there in my shadow, To never have sunlight on your face. You were content to let me shine, that’s your way. You always walked a step behind.

“So I was the one with all the glory, While you were the one with all the strength. A beautiful face without a name for so long. A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

“Did you ever know that you’re my hero, And everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eagle, For you are the wind beneath my wings.

“It might have appeared to go unnoticed, But I’ve got it all here in my heart. I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it. I would be nothing without you.”

And that’s how it was. It’s how it always was. She was all those things to me growing up, but I just didn’t see it. I couldn’t see it. Or at least I couldn’t see it as clearly as I see it now. But God do I wish I had because I’m sure she would’ve appreciated the gratitude.

I wish I had stopped more often in my frantic rush out the door to meet my friends to hug her and kiss her and say I love you. I wish I had spent more time cooking with her instead of just showing up at the table to eat. I wish I had embraced that she loved to go for walks and didn’t let her go alone. I wish I had asked her more often about her day and her work and her friends and the things she loved. Even though I knew all of it, it was so far on the periphery of my vision that I hardly noticed any of it was there.

I wish I showed her more often how much I appreciated all her sacrifices and support and guidance and unconditional love. Appreciated all the little things like laundry always being done and the fridge always being full and an ear always being willing and ready to listen. Because all that matters to me now is the time that we get to spend together. The hours spent listening to the stories that I already know the ending to; the quiet moments sitting next to each other in the car on our way anywhere or nowhere; the bottomless pool of advice and support and love that I get to drink from every day. Now, I treasure and savor every sweet drop.

But I was a kid and that’s not what most kids do because kids aren’t wired like that when they’re young. They just can’t make the connections in their brains, through no real fault of their own. It’s just a byproduct of being young and naïve and self-absorbed.

It was becoming a mom myself, though, that finally opened my eyes to the woman my mother always was as she waited patiently in the shadows for me to finally find her.

I mean, I was a decent kid growing up. Like, I didn’t get into much, if any, trouble; I worked hard in school; I adored my family; and I was relatively low-maintenance as far as kids go. (Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.) But one thing I think about often, as long as I’ve had the title of Mom, is that, as much as I loved my mom, I also took her for granted. I didn’t really see her, she was just always there, the machine behind my childhood that never stalled or stopped or took a single break. Ever. I just never noticed or appreciated her as the selfless, beautiful human who put me and my needs 10,000 miles before her own. Just like most kids don’t. I only wish I had. (Hindsight, right?)

But the reality is that most of us are just too stupid and immature and self-centered when we’re young to recognize any of the qualities that make our moms (and of course dads) so exceptional. But we can’t, because we’re kids. And kids rarely, if ever, have the capacity to think of their parents as real live living breathing humans with personalities and passions and anxieties and fears and their own stories to tell.

So make the time. Listen to the stories. Say thank you over and over and over again. Give the kisses and shower the love. Hard. Just because you can. I know I will. Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I couldn’t love you more.

— Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at lisasugarman.com. Or, find them on LittleThings.com, Hot Moms Club, BeingAMom.life, GrownandFlown.com, More Content Now, and Care.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at select bookstores.

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