Mom’s the Word

I have accomplished lots of things in my life, and I am proud of what I’ve achieved: I wrote for The Washington Post for more than a decade, published four children’s books with Random House, put on my big-girl panties and pushed through health issues and relationship woes and…. well, enough about that. The point is, I’ve done a lot of stuff.

But the thing I am most proud of? Really, two things: my son and my daughter.

As has often been noted, it’s one thing to get pregnant and give birth. But actually BEING a mother is the greatest privilege, and the greatest responsibility, there is. I have long been and always will be grateful to have been granted the opportunity to have children, to watch and help them grow, and to witness and revel in the incredible adult human beings they have become.

Having said all that, I’ve never really cottoned to Mother’s Day. I love spending time with my kids, of course, but I do that all the time. I don’t like the sense of obligation, the spending money on flowers and cards, the artificial aura surrounding the forced celebration of motherhood on this one specific day each year.

But, ah, was I ever grateful for Mother’s Day today.

My mom will turn 94 next week. She lives in Maryland, in the house where I grew up. Ours has not always been the easiest relationship. But during the past few months, any unease has melted away: we have become a mother/daughter team, talking several times a day, looking for ways to make each other laugh and otherwise boosting one another’s spirits. It has been lovely, and affirming, and gratifying. Happy Mother’s Day, Ma.

This evening, my son ordered my favorite pizza delivery (pizza being my all-time favorite food) and joined in a Zoom chat orchestrated by his sister (my daughter) and her fiance, whose family was there, too. We talked and laughed about this, that, and the other. It felt like the most precious gift, just looking at my loved ones and hearing their (albeit sometimes-garbled) voices and remembering, once and for all, what’s really important in this world.

After Zoomtime ended, I happened upon a Hartford Courant article about women giving birth during this stressful time. It was ultimately an upbeat story: all the families featured had their healthy babies at home and were busy moving on with their lives.

It occurred to me that having, and raising, a child is the ultimate expression of hope and optimism and resilience. Here’s to those new moms, and to the women who are in the process of creating new people right now, and to all the women who have been mothers since the dawn of time.

Happy Mother’s Day, from my heart to yours.

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