by Dawn Dillon Barrett
To commemorate Mother’s Day, I have been asking some people what they think is the most important quality a mother should have. The replies were varied, but most of them could be put into one of three categories: love, a sense of humor and endurance.
Next to romance, I suppose the subject of motherhood stirs up more emotion than any other in existence. Statesmen give their mothers credit for the fine people they have become, especially during political campaigns, sailors tattoo the word on their biceps, and even a hardened criminal will defend his mother to the death.
Mothers are important; everybody knows that. Civilization would have died out rather quickly without them. Adam certainly couldn’t have gone it alone, even though he was quick to blame the woman when the fat hit the fire in the Garden.
But mothers also tend to get blamed for things. Old Sigmund Freud was a past master at that, making moms the scapegoats for most of the craziness in the world. Well, folks have always needed to blame somebody for driving them nuts.
Mothers. Books have been written about them; speeches laud them. But mothers as a group tend to defy description, perhaps, because like the rest of humanity, they’re all different. But all mothers have some things in common. So, in a feeble attempt to define that universality, I’ve listed a few similarities:
She’s the one who, when you throw up all down the wall because you were sleeping in the top bunk and didn’t know you were going to be sick until it was too late, takes care of you before she scrubs the wall.
Mothers come in all shapes, sizes and attitudes. Some are short and squatty, others tall and thin. But all of them have laps that fit and arms that protect when you’re sick or hurt or scared.
Mothers fuss sometimes, hug sometimes and pray a lot. They walk the floor the first time you go across the street by yourself and the first time you go out on a date.
And eventually they learn to leave you alone to make your own mistakes. They may even pretend not to worry. But they always do. A little.
A mother is Beauty with curlers in her hair, Style with baby burp on her dress and Grace with a run in her stocking. She goes to P.T.A. meetings, baseball games and band concerts. She’ll stay up until midnight to bake brownies when you forgot to tell her until nine o’clock that you need them at eight the next morning.
A mother is Clumsiness trying to play catch, Sacrifice giving up her favorite piece of chicken, Justice mediating a sibling fight and Imperfection touched by God. She will give you anything she thinks you really need that she can buy, beg, borrow, bargain for or steal for you. And if it’s called for, she will even give you her life.
And more than anything, she is the one person in the whole, wide world you can always come back to. No matter what you’ve done.
Because wherever she is – is home.
A resident of south Mississippi, Dawn Dillon Barrett writes for the Magnolia Gazette.
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