Not Just on Mother’s Day

Not Just on Mother’s Day

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

Not Just on Mother’s Day

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.

Helen Keller

I do not need gifts on Mother’s Day. I have the gift I want and need. It is the gift of motherhood. It cannot be purchased in department stores or stacked on shelves. It cannot be created in a factory. It cannot be wrapped in a box. Nor can it be limited to one day. Motherhood is every day. And every mother knows it.

I lost my mother when I was twenty-six years old. I had thought we would be together for many years. I had not even considered life without her. We were friends, best friends. Her first grandchild had just been born, and life’s possibilities had barely opened for me when she passed on. It took many years for me to recover. Twenty-six years seemed such a short time to have my mother. To have her love. Her protection. Her devotion. To enjoy her beauty and zest for life. She would not see me become a mother again, or any of the things I would accomplish later in life. We were just beginning to know each other as adults. I ache to call just one more time, “Mother,” and have her answer. And see her face. And tell her the things I might have been too busy to say. Oh, how I long to say them now. Not just on Mother’s Day. But every day.

I see the family photographs of my mother holding me. Holding my brother. I wanted to ask her so many things as a young mother. Was she as frightened as I was that I would not be suitable for the job? Did she doubt everything about herself and wish there had been some course she could have taken that would have prepared her for this new life she held in her arms? What did she wish she had taught me? What did she want me to teach my children? And even now, had she lived, I would have liked to care for her in older age as my children care for me. Not just on Mother’s Day. But every day.

Before becoming a mother, I only knew about having a mother. I only knew what I needed of her. She taught me to walk with my back straight, my head up. She taught me to believe in myself. She protected me whenever I needed it, and let me go when I needed that, also. But I did not know about being a mother until I had children. The world of motherhood tested me. It asked me to be better than I thought I might be. Stronger. Wiser. Braver. And it never took a day off. Whether sick or tired or frustrated or defeated, mothering continued. Not just on Mother’s Day. But every day.

The world of motherhood is generous. It embraces anyone who has the gift of mothering. It welcomes everyone who might bring comfort to humanity. It is not just for those of us who see our own faces in our children’s, but also for those who offer a mother’s touch when needed.

Forty-six years later, I wear the title of “Mother” proudly. It demands even more of me now: to set an example, make my children proud, give them strength and support, be there when needed, and to always be their biggest fan.

Not just on Mother’s Day. But every day.

Harriet May Savitz

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