I don’t want to continually talk about Mother’s Day since it’s over now, but I really wanted to share this experience even though it’s kind of a bummer.
I went to return a gift my daughter got for her birthday last week and noticed the clerk in the store looked SO familiar to me but I wasn’t sure how I knew her. I told her she looked amazingly familiar. She didn’t seem to recognize me so I asked her name. As soon as she said her name I knew why I knew her.
We live nearby each other and went to the same church until the congregation got split into different wards. She didn’t attend super regularly, but I knew her name and had even been to her home a few times while serving in the Relief Society.
Her sons, who were in their very early teens at the time, attended church more regularly and made a good impression on me. I remember being very happy to see them at church.
Anyway…when I realized just who she was, I started asking her about her boys. I remarked that they must be getting big and driving and those kinds of things. She nodded and I joked about how hard it must be too keep enough food in the house for growing boys like that. She concurred with me that it WAS hard to feed growing boys and that they went through a lot of milk.
I continued to tell her that I used to LOVE to see her boys at church and then I asked how they were doing. She took a deep breath before she answered. She continued to tell me that the boys decided to go try living with their dad.
I could tell that was a painful subject, so I tried not to pry anymore. Wanting to avoid awkwardness or any pain, I tried to wrap up that portion of the conversation by empathizing with her and noting how much she must miss them. I’m still not sure if that was a the wrong or right thing to do and say.
The next thing she said, almost in one breath, was that as soon as the boys moved in with their dad, he transferred back east for work and that the boys went with him.
Being that Mother’s Day was right around the corner, I told her that must be really hard. She agreed that it was and then all of a sudden we were both crying in the middle of the store. I gave her a hug and asked if they boys were alright and if they liked it there. She answered by saying she didn’t know because her boys wouldn’t talk to her.
I was stunned.
Earlier in the week I had been thinking about the art of motherhood and all the things that go into raising children. I was thinking about how children, even in their adult forms will never realize what their mothers have done for them. I felt so sorry for her. As a mother I felt such sympathy for the pain of not having your own children in your life.
Even though I don’t have experience with this, I am still a mother so I tried to I commiserate with her about her how unfortunate it was that we can spend our life’s work raising these kids, but still have no say as to what our more adult relationships will be like. I told her how unfair it was to be left with a hole in the heart. I wished I had some more comforting words than that, so I just hugged her and told her I was sorry.
She finished my sale and then excused herself into the store’s back room. I felt so bad for upsetting her and I hope that I didn’t just leave her upset. I hope I left her with some sense of motherly-comradery and that it wasn’t fair that she’d been deserted by kids she’d worked hard to raise.
I’ve been thinking about this all week. I have a great mother whom I know sacrificed all to make my life what it is. There haven’t been very many times I’ve ever been really mad at my mom for more than 5 minutes (aside from when I was a 13-year-old brat). But this experience made me want to go squeeze my mother and tell her how much she means to me. It made me think about all the little things I know she must have done for me and my five brothers that made our lives as good and pleasant as possible.
Let’s hope our children won’t grow up to remember our imperfections and the things we didn’t do well. Children will never realize what went into making them into who they are. They’ll never realize all the little things we did as parents, especially moms, to make their lives livable.
They’ll never remember who carried them around when they were too small to walk. They’ll not remember who tied their shoes 10,000 times or who got the gum out of their hair. They’ll forget who taught them to walk, braid, and pour a jug of milk. They’ll forget who found all their lost shoes, socks and blankies. They’ll never realize how the food got to the table, who paid for it or who prepared it. They’ll probably never appreciate how they magically got to school on-time each day. We’ll never get credit for worrying about them every second they’re out of our sight.
The truth is, children just assume these things are just naturally happening and will just always happen. They don’t understand who the woman behind the curtain is, and they probably never will. We can only hope that our children will love us for who we are and that somewhere deep down they’ll understand a fraction of what we’ve done for them when they’ve grown and become parents themselves.
I’m praying for comfort for my neighbor. I don’t like conflict and I just can’t think about having it with my own children. Understanding that I don’t know the nature of this families situation or why these seemingly good boys would shun their mother, I pray that they’ll realize a small part of what any mother does for their children and will come around and be part of her life again.
I hope that we can all hug our mothers even though Mother’s Day is over and tell her thank you for all the small stuff we’ve never thought about.