The Mothers in My Life
Happy Mother’s Day to one and all!
I’ve written hundreds of published articles over the years. On rare occasions, I would republish selected articles because of their relevance that I find timeless. What I would do is revise a few sentence structures and tweak the original idea a bit but keep the original meaning of the article intact. This article is one of them.
The are four special mothers in my life: my biological mother, my wife – the mother of my children, and my two daughters – the mothers of my five grandchildren.
Abraham Lincoln once said: “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” As I reflect on this quote as Mother’s Day approaches, I am reminded of another quote by Rudyard Kipling: “God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers.”
Mothers are indeed special. Only mothers can bring life into the world. No other human being can experience the pain and the joy of giving birth to another human being. No wonder it is said that a woman achieves her total fulfillment when she becomes a mother.
But motherhood is more than giving birth. Motherhood is hard work. I saw this in my mother. She worked doubly hard as a public school teacher and eventually as a school supervisor to provide us with the necessities in life. Our well-being and education were her priorities. She might have been upset or hurt whenever we ignored her advice, but at the end of the day she was not punitive but understanding. My mother was magnanimous to a fault, and nothing could break her generous spirit. I learned early on in life that her children’s happiness was also her happiness.
Admittedly, when I was growing up and even as an adult, I never had the chance to share my feelings with my mother. In fact, I never really thanked her for everything she did for our family; it’s not that I did not want to. But I just did not feel the need to express it. It was as if I was socialized to keep my feelings to myself, part of the cultural stereotype of the heroic male – independent, self-reliant, and macho. But I was never emotionally distant from her. Deep inside me, I was grateful for her support, advice, concern, sacrifices, and love.
My mother wanted very much to have a girl in the family. But fate was not on her side. She had four boys instead. Thus, she adopted a baby girl. But the baby’s biological mother took back the baby after a few months. I had never seen my mother feel so sad.
In my quiet moments, I would like to think that my mother’s disappointment in not having a girl has been compensated for by my wife and two daughters who are now loving mothers and take the responsibilities of motherhood seriously. How I wish I could pick up the phone and call my mother in the Great Beyond to tell her that her desire to have her own daughter now lives on in her granddaughters and their mother. Truly, fate has a strange way of making my mother’s desire come true.
My mother would be happy to know that my wife belongs to that generation of women whose love for the marginalized is beyond reproach. Her love for our daughters unquestionably reflects her own upbringing. She is generous and leads a life that centers on what is good for our family. She is the most family-centered person I know and a mother who puts the interest of our daughters and her grandchildren above everything else.
Now that my two daughters have their own children, I am besotted with how they are becoming to be hands-on mothers. They have naturally developed some impeccable skills in bathing their children, egging them on to play various sports and learn about life, reading and praying with them at night before they hit the sack. They surround their children with books and counsel them basic good manners and right conduct. They bond with their children while at the same time having fun. They also have gotten from their mother’s genes the importance of cleanliness, discipline, and kindness.
I am astounded when I see my grandchildren enjoy watching TV, build various figures from Lego blocks that look amazingly intricate, and play sports. At a very young age, they can already communicate what they want and be stubbornly demanding at times. Theirs is a different world from the world I grew up in. I am, however, grateful that my daughters can still discipline them and remain resolute, while at the same time shower them with love.
There is really no word to describe a mother’s love. If there are words to describe it, they are never enough. And as Mitch Albom, famous American author once wrote: “When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth.”
I often get a twinge of sadness during Mother’s Day because I still miss my mother who died almost 23 years ago. But even without my mother, I am blessed and thankful to have with me on Mother’s Day three great mothers – my wife and my two daughters – where I can see a mother’s purest love in their eyes.