She dreamed of you from the time she was a little girl cradling a baby doll in her arms. She always saw you playing around the little cottage in her childhood dreams.
She carried you in her body and you made her sick every morning for weeks and weeks. She bore you into the world through intense pain but when she heard you cry and saw your wrinkled face she forgot all about it and wept tears of joy.
She fed you at her breast and her whole world revolved around you. She stole into your room at night just to watch you sleep and she was sure you were the most beautiful child on earth. She set up through the night to bathe away the fever and at breakfast your dad said; “Sleep well, honey?” oblivious to the all-night vigil. She somehow always knew when you needed her, even in the middle of the night, and she came to your room and changed your bedding and made sure you were warm and dry.
She covered your ears and gave you your coat and checked your homework and made you practice the piano and set through all your ball games and recitals like they were the seventh game of the World Series and a debut at Carnegie Hall. She nagged you to brush your teeth with words of wisdom like; “Be true to your teeth or they will be false to you.” She changed your diaper and cleaned up when you were sick and washed underwear no one else would touch without a chemical suit. And who do you think always cleaned the gunk out of the kitchen sink and bathtub drain?
She made sure you had the drumstick and your dad had the breast and acted like she preferred the wings. Her oatmeal cookies made you forget the beating you took from the neighborhood bully, or the slow rate of greeting card sales.
She listened to you and didn’t laugh when others would have mocked you. She believed in you when you didn’t believe in yourself and prayed for you even when you didn’t think you needed it. She made you think you could do things you were sure you couldn’t do. She was tough enough to call your bluff and discipline you and give you a sense of boundaries and the security that comes with it. She spanked you when “Spocking” was all the trend with lesser mothers. She knew when you needed a spanking or just a nap and she didn’t always give you candy though she longed to indulge you.
She was always waiting when you came in late. When you complained about it, she pretended to be asleep the way you always did when you wanted her to carry you in from the car after a long trip.
She read the Bible to you and read the Bible in front of you and did what mothers have to do to make sure the family is faithful in church. She made your dad a much better man than he ever would have been without her. She mended clothes as a labor of love and it broke her heart to see how quickly you grew out of them. She knew you were only loaned to her from God and soon the house would fall silent again. She washed mountains of dishes and truckloads of laundry. She put up food on the hottest summer days and didn’t complain.
Her most sincere prayers were the ones she sent heavenward in gratitude for you. She filled your home with fragrance and beauty and music. The smell or her perfume and fresh-cut flowers, bacon for breakfast and Sunday roast. Her eyes were bright and happy and full of life. She wept though, wept and worried a thousand times for you when no one ever knew.
She rose early on holidays so you could enjoy a festive meal and an enduring memory. She planned for days and worked for hours so that in a few minutes you could gulp it down and go watch football. You didn’t always thank her or help her with the dishes, but those meals have been a cherished memory for years.
She baked you special treats just to watch you eat them. Something inside made her happier the more you ate (If you could see me you would know this made my mother a very happy woman).
She wore old dresses so you could have a new ball glove. She skipped vacations and second honeymoons so you could go to camp. She limited expenses for her hobbies so you could get your band instrument. She was happy with last year’s fashion so you could have this years tennis shoes. She didn’t abandon the family when your dad was insensitive to her needs. She took the blame for your failures and stood back and let your dad have the glory for your successes. And having done all these things and a thousand others that make mother a sacred word, she still felt she wasn’t the mother she should have been.
By - Ken Pierpont © 2002, Ken Pierpont. All rights reserved.