Those of you who read me regularly know I remarried about a year ago. Next week the woman I love and I will celebrate our first anniversary.
Today, it is mother’s day, of course. I am sitting at my favorite diner, watching all the people who rarely go out taking their mom’s out to eat. It’s a joy to watch as moms of all ages are enjoying their children.
Sitting here, I see children in elementary school, teenagers, kids in their twenties and beyond. There’s a couple of people I know who are my age, in their sixties, having brunch with their moms who are easily in their eighties, maybe more. The conversations are lively and faces are animated. I can imagine the conversations a mix of memories and current events. There are smiles everywhere.
The woman I love left after church to head down to Massachusetts to spend time with her daughter. She adores her daughter and they talk every day, no matter where they are. They’ve shared a lot those two, and I admire their relationship.
Mother’s day is not happy for everyone. I recognize that. I’ve experienced it. My wife, for instance, has been cut off from some of her stepchildren as a result of her divorce. She loves those kids and simply adores her grandkids. So Mother’s day has a tinge of loss. Sometimes more than a tinge.
Others deal with Mothers who are damaged or dangerous. My two children, for instance, don’t speak to their mom, and she does not speak to them. They were close once, but it came undone as they moved into their teen years. One by one they moved up here to live with me in Vermont. I’m a pretty decent dad, but I’m not a mother. And there is no substitute for a mother.
I am fortunate. I had a wonderful mother. A good, interesting, loving mother who I still learn from, even though she is a few years gone from this world. My sense of spirituality came from her. For the most part, my demeanor came from her. Perfect? No. The whole parenthood thing is one big experiment, full of trial and error. My mother was no different, and I was likely a difficult subject to learn on. But I never had to doubt her love for me, and hers was the right kind of love, a 1st Corinthians 13 kind of love, full of gentleness and respect.
I never had the gift of knowing my wife’s mother, but I wish I had. She talks of her often, and fondly. Like me, it was not all perfect between them, but the love and respect was powerful and always present. It still is today.
This year my kids touched my new wife’s heart. My daughter sent her a birthday card the other day that thanked her for becoming my daughter’s mom. My son today reached out to thank her for being his mother for the past year. They’ve taken her to heart as much as she has taken them into hers.
I’ve learned a lot about what a good mother is from my wife. Not that my mom wasn’t a special and an especially good mother, she was, but I’ve come to see a new wrinkle that I think is particularly relevant in the world we live in today, a world where roughly half of the marriages break up, often breaking families into sides and battlezones rather than what they were meant to be.
Somehow, the woman I love manages to have love enough for all her families. She loves her former stepchildren and their kids (her grandkids). It doesn’t matter whether they embrace that love and return it – her love is constant. She loves her daughter. She has come to love my own kids.
There is enough love for all of them. Loving these kids doesn’t take from the love she has for the others. She is available to them all. She worries about them all. She wants them all to flourish, even the ones that right now, are still in the picking sides stage.
That’s what I see in the best mothers around me – and there are plenty of them. They love. They love unconditionally. And that love does not get diluted by the addition of more people to live. It’s like the fishes and loaves story in the bible. There’s no end to it.
A lot of us felt we were loved very conditionally. We were loved if. If we did as someone said. If we looked and behaved a certain way. If we weighed this much or that. If we followed prescribed paths. The list was endless.
The best mothers just love. They have been given the gift of being able to love without conditions and without limits. And in turn, they return that love to us.
I am blessed this year on mother’s day. Even with my own mother gone, she is with me in positive ways. My children have someone in their lives they feel is what a mother should be. Joy has been returned to them on Mother’s day. And the daughter of the woman I love has someone in her life that loves her without measure, even as she loves others.
The best kind of mom.
Not everything is my life is roses and cream, but this is. This year is . And that’s worth celebrating.
Be well, travel wisely,