This is for the strength. Strength unmatched.
Strength in the face of chaos. Strength in the face of exhaustion. Strength that, when it’s needed for a child, no matter the age, no matter the time or the place, can be summoned in a way only other mothers can understand.
This is for the real superheroes – capes optional.
This is for the time taken when there’s little time to give. For tears held back to calm a young one’s fears, and tears that flow freely, softening hearts and teaching compassion.
This is for always having Kleenex. I don’t know how it happens. I don’t know how it’s possible. But there’s almost always Kleenex available – in a purse, in a pocket, in a glove compartment. And when there’s none, the “No, honey, sorry, I don’t have any” carries a hint of guilt, as if having Kleenex at all times is a sacred obligation.
This is for the work – one job, two jobs, three jobs. Whatever it takes. The refusal to let the hearts beating outside their bodies go without. The refusal to fail.
This is for the songs. And the bedtime stories. And for the one song that must be sung over and over and over again, and then once more for good measure. The song the listeners may one day forget, but the singers will recall forever.
This is for keeping the peace. For adjudicating endless civil cases between siblings and keeping the scales of justice balanced. For demonstrating forgiveness and highlighting the lines that can’t be crossed.
This is for not being perfect. Because no one is, and the sooner a child realizes that the better.
This is for having that inexplicable sense that knows which words a child needs to hear, that knows when a small body needs a snack, that knows when a cough is OK and when it’s time to see a doctor, that knows just from a glance when a young person’s universe is slightly out of alignment.
This is for the ones we’ve seen too many of, the ones huddled over bodies on the street, wrecked, lost, never to be whole again. This is for their broken hearts.
This is for the ones who’ve lost a person who once lived inside them, who have never stopped loving that person, and have never gone a day without remembering. This is for the ones who bring flowers to gravestones and mourn the moments missed. This is for those who ache, always. This is a hug when it’s needed, a hand to hold.
This is for the ones who do it their way and don’t bow to anyone’s stereotype. The ones who know there is no one right path, but a path for everyone.
This is for the ones who’ve gone, but are still felt daily.
This is for the lumps in throats at every milestone. First steps. First day of kindergarten. Last day of elementary school. First day of middle school. Probably the second day of middle school, as well.
If we’re being honest, there are a lot of milestones. And a lot of lumps in throats.
And those small, throat-lump-inducing people – even when they’re no longer small – know those lumps are there, and they appreciate them, even if they never say so.
Because above all else, a mother’s central power is an overwhelming love that doesn’t always require expression. It simply radiates, and the human that mother brought into this world can feel it – a wireless connection, from one heart to another, with no bounds.
There is nothing else like it, and I say that meaning no disrespect to us dads. Moms just have something we lack, something we can never fully replicate.
And that’s OK. That’s why they’re special – that and the whole “ability to bring life into the world” thing, which is a pretty sweet superpower.
So on Mother’s Day, we’ll honor our moms. Our wives who are moms. The people who stepped in and took on the role of a mom when needed.
And this is for them, for all of them. For my mom and for yours, for my wife and for remarkable mothers everywhere.
For their patience, their calm, their seemingly bottomless reservoirs of compassion. For their fire, their resolve, their fierceness in the face of lives that might try to knock them down. Their drive, their intelligence, their wisdom.
They gave us life, and knew that alone wasn’t enough. So they held our hands, literally and figuratively. And we still feel that warm, comforting grasp, no matter where we are in life.
It’s imprinted. It’s forever.
And this is to say thanks for that. This is for them. The moms.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.
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