For years, this week’s column has been one of my favorites to write.
It’s fairly simple, for starters. The trusty Coastal Point calendar hanging by my desk says that Sunday, May 10, is Mother’s Day. I happen to have a mother. I write about her glory.
But it does go a little deeper than that, to be honest. You see, it’s also simple to write because I absolutely adore my mother. She’s tough and honest, smart and funny. She was the person who kissed my boo-boos when I was a kid, and lent me a shoulder when my pains became less visible, and more complicated.
She was a teacher by trade for most of her professional career, and a teacher around the house when she wasn’t on the clock. There were two certainties in my house when Mom was the lone parent on duty — we ain’t saying “ain’t” and we ain... um... aren’t, going to be loud when she had a crossword puzzle in her sights.
And, to this very day, she is “Mommy.” Really, is there much higher compliment a mother can receive than that? No matter how old, bald or tired I’ve become over the years, she’s still Mommy.
Of course, my sister says I call my mother that only to rub it in her smug little face that I am the “chosen” offspring, but that wild paranoia is just more evidence that I’m the only one who truly appreciates and respects the woman who raised us and showed us...
But I digress.
The fact of the matter is I am one of the fortunate ones to have had a caring mother who has watched over me all my life, and I know just how lucky that makes me. I really do. Many of my friends lost their mothers at all-too-young an age, and several others were raised only by their fathers or grandparents for myriad other reasons. A few others are completely estranged and don’t even talk with their mothers anymore. The fact that I’m still close with mine makes me appreciative of that. The fact that she didn’t strangle me to death when I was 15 makes me even more grateful.
Another person I know who should be extremely appreciative of her mother is my 6-month-old daughter, Riley.
My wife, Jamie, has taken to her new responsibilities with the enthusiasm and energy she takes to every task. She is tireless in responding to the baby’s dietary needs (and those are plentiful), undaunted in reacting to Riley’s heavily-filled diapers (also plentiful) and seemingly brought to life by Dr. Frankenstein each time a cry rings out in the middle of the night (I’m assuming plentiful, but I tend to sleep through many of those).
In short, she’s a pretty awesome mommy.
It’s been a long, strange trip to get to this point, filled with some heartache, some health issues and the pressures and strains that come with starting a newspaper along the way. And it has resulted in us becoming new parents at an age when many people are seeing their children off to college or settling into that nice comfort zone of knowing where one’s life is headed. But, here we are, raising a baby that has changed every second of how we live our lives.
And she has seized the challenge.
I have every intention of being a good father to Riley. It is, without a doubt, the single-most important thing in my life. But I sometimes doubt how good a job I’m doing. I work a lot, and even though the people at the Point have been amazingly generous and patient with me as I try to slip home a little earlier to catch her before she goes to sleep, I’m still not around as much as I’d prefer.
And I’d guess that many other fathers are reading this right now and nodding their heads.
But Jamie keeps marching. She keeps waking up with Riley to take care of her needs. She keeps reading books to a person who is much more interested in sticking a book in her mouth than soaking in the narrative. And she keeps dancing, singing and generally creating entertaining things to do to keep Riley happy, even when her eyes look like they’d much rather be closed.
I guess, at the end of the day, it all makes me grateful. Grateful that the jewel of my eye has a mother who will do anything to give her a happy life. And grateful that I, too, had a mother who would do anything to give me a happy life.
So, Mommy, don’t worry. You will never be replaced in my eyes or heart. On the contrary, you’ve raised a high bar for me to evaluate all others. And, rest assured, your granddaughter is in excellent hands.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who have given of themselves to bring joy, education and respect to our next generation. You certainly deserve more than one day of thanks.