Mother’s Day snuck up on me, which seems appropriate because my mother often does the same thing. I wanted to write a Mother’s Day post this year, partly because
I’m running out of blog topics I have a fantastic mother who’s always worth writing about and partly because I’ve had particular reason to appreciate her over the last year. I wasn’t sure quite how to approach it, though. My Sainted Mother has made a number of appearances on this blog already, and most of the stories she wouldn’t mind me telling the entire internet have already been told.
Fortunately, I found inspiration in the news. I try to stay educated on current events because, appropriately enough, my mother raised me to believe that it’s my duty to stay informed as a voter and as a member of society. I also like to check to see if we’ve gone to war with anyone new since yesterday, and I wish I meant that as a joke. So I took a look at the news and oh, the news, the news did not disappoint.
At first I thought it did, and not because of headlines about serial killers, though there were headlines about serial killers. The news I’m talking about was equally shocking, but it was also, somehow, horrendously mundane. I read articles about political sniping and voters trying to decide which candidate for leader of the free world is the least worst; interviews in which global atrocities were politicized and romanticized, and in the process trivialized; and editorials in respected publications demanding that the moral beliefs of private citizens be enforced as law. How can any rational being not be disappointed in news like this?
Inadvertently, however, all that muck made it obvious to me how I should approach this Mother’s Day post. My mother is everything that’s missing from the news today. She’s intelligent, free-thinking, non-judgmental, and familiar with the rules of grammar. (She’s also, and this is really neither here nor there when it comes to the news, very good-looking. When she went abroad as a young woman, snobby Parisian men lost their snobby Parisian heads over her in spite of her being an American. True story). What stands out to me most clearly right now, though, and what has lasted rather longer than the dew on her skin and the gloss in her hair, is how classy she is. Life with my mother is like an Audrey Hepburn movie: it’s beautiful, it’s fun, and it’s clearly better for having her in it. It’s also simply not the same with anyone else.
All my life, whenever I’ve gone somewhere with my mother, I’ve seen the people around her just bloom, and I’ve tried for years to pin down why. Other people can be nice, polite, thoughtful, helpful, all those same attributes my mother has, and they don’t have the same effect. You can do the exact things she does and say the exact words she says with all the same tones and inflections, but you won’t get the same results–trust me, I’ve tried; it’s like the beginning of Peter Pan without the fairy dust. But when you’re with my mother, something about her makes the world start acting like a dusty summer garden when it finally rains; all the beautiful things can lift up their heads and flourish, and they do.
In hotels, when she travels, she knows the names of the concierge, the manager, the assistant managers, the coffee shop baristas, the housekeepers, the gardeners, and the maintenance staff. She doesn’t learn their names to curry favor, she does it because she wants to know their names. She knows which waiter in the hotel restaurant has a child applying to colleges and whose grandmother is recovering from surgery, and she also knows which colleges and what kind of surgery. When someone is in distress, she asks if she can do anything and hopes the answer is yes. She’ll read this, I know, and she’ll think I’m painting a picture of a rosebush and leaving out the thorns. I’m not. Even my mother can’t deny that I’m not the kind of person who leaves out the thorns. I’m just the kind of person who recognizes what she’s got, and I’ve got an exceptionally classy mother.
This blog post was almost very different, though, because the twist in this particular tale is that I’m adopted. I suspect that, no matter what the circumstances are, most adopted children never really stop being afraid that they’ll be rejected, and that’s still my biggest fear. Rationally speaking, I know that my adoption is probably not going to be undone after thirty-five years, but tell that to a kid who grew up knowing she’d been returned to sender once already. My mother (and father and sister) gave me a home and a family and I will never stop being grateful for that, but a home and a family couldn’t soothe my fear because they’re the very things I’ve been so afraid I’ll lose. It would take a miracle to banish that fear. So my mother performed a miracle. She raised me with a love so strong and so good that it overcame every fear and doubt, and made me believe. She made me hers.
My mother gave a motherless child the impossible gift: total and unshakeable faith in her love for me. I will always be her daughter and she will always be my mother. She told me so, and she lives her life with such honor and grace that I could never doubt her. She made room for me in her home and her heart, and she’s my mother not by blood or even by court order, but by a lifetime of love. She’s a class act if ever there was one, and no matter what else is going on in my life or what horrible things are in the news, all I have to do to find the good in this world is think of her. I know that my sister, her biological daughter, feels the same. I’ll never be able to repay my mother for what she’s done for me and been to me. All I can do is say thank you.
Thank you, Mom. I love you so much. Happy Mother’s Day.