“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.” - Elizabeth Stone
Mother’s Day is a day of mixed cheer for me. It is happy in that I have two wonderful grown children who I wouldn’t change a single thing about. In fact, they’re so wonderful they both married people I also wouldn’t change a thing about.
In addition, they have jobs and homes and happy, full lives; they live close by and visit often. From my point of view as a mom, you can’t be any better blessed than that.
The down side of the day for me is that my mom died when I was 19 and she left a hole in my life that nothing else has ever filled. I can’t really remember what it felt like to have a mother and even though my dad’s a great guy who’s always more than been there for me, I still feel like an orphan on Mother’s Day.
Of all the jobs I’ve had, being a mom has always been my favorite. It’s the only thing I always knew I wanted to do and one of the things I’ve been really good at. As a child, I toted dolls around, taking gentle care of them. As a young woman, I couldn’t wait to be a mom. I was in such a hurry that I had kids before I figured out what else I wanted to do – a move that complicated things later, but in a good way.
By age 25, I had two little ones, born 13 months apart, and things were pretty wild at our house. Mr. Clark was a young computer guy with a good job, so we made the decision that I would be a stay at home mom. At the time, it seemed like the only way to go, but I remember our mostly much older parent friends shaking their heads at the foolishness of me choosing to be mom at the expense of any other career path.
Financially, they were right; emotionally, I’ve never had any regrets. Being able to be a central part of my kids’ lives without having to juggle them with a career is another blessing I’ve had that I wouldn’t change a thing about.
It makes me sad to hear young women talk about returning to work full-time (and putting their baby in day care full-time at six weeks) as a reality they can’t do anything about. While I understand in some cases that might be true, it makes me even sadder to hear something like, “Of course I’d like to stay home with the baby, but we’ve got two car payments and we can’t make them if I don’t go back to work…”
Was driving older cars ever even considered?
My mom always stayed home with my brother and me, and while I remember getting the sense at times that doing so made her a little nutty, I also remember how nice it was to grow up feeling like the center of our own safe universe. Mom was always there; dinner was always on the table; we always had a ride wherever we needed to be; and if someone tried to wrong us, the lioness in her would rise up in our defense.
I tried to provide my kids with the same sense of safety and stability. While I opted to work part-time once they went to school, my kids were my unequivocal priority and they always knew that.
Recently, I was hired to photograph mothers and daughters at a luncheon celebrating the girls’ high school graduation. It was a pleasant event that brought back happy memories about how much fun it was to have kids at home – to be so connected with them, their hopes, their dreams, their friends, what’s going on in their lives. It’s different and, at times, awfully quiet once everyone is grown.
Listening to those moms talk, it struck me how vivid mothers’ memories are. There is a clarity about our memories of our children and our experiences as mothers that belays the time that has passed. We remember our pregnancies, our babies, our toddlers, children and teens as if it all happened yesterday – with a clarity of memory we save for few other things.
Abraham Lincoln said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.” Maybe that’s the reason for the vividness of memory – as mothers we put more hope, prayer, love and energy into our children than any other part of our lives.
Sometimes I wonder what my mother would think of her 50+ year-old daughter and those adult grandkids; and I wonder how our lives would’ve been different, had we had the benefit of her prayers and interest all these years.
One things for sure, as long as I have a breath left in me, my children will be followed by my prayers and interest, no matter how many Mother’s Days go by.
Lorin Sinn-Clark is a writer for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.