For Moms, Who Know What True Love Is

Today, I will probably make dinner for my mother, tell her that I love her and that it thrills me to see her with my daughter--her grandchild--to whom she is so tenderly devoted.

I will probably thank God my mother is alive after a critical illness last year, then snap at her when she gets on my nerves. I will probably wonder how the emotions of a seemingly sane, loving daughter can zing between love and irritability without good reason, like a pinball in play.

And I will probably be stung by remorse, until I remind myself that passion, in all its forms, is what this most primal of connections is all about.

Mother and child.

There is never any real resolution between mothers and children, nor should there be, I suppose, because this great roller coaster of a relationship is eternal.

I have seen my mother hovering at death's door. Or maybe it was death hovering at hers. Such moments suck the adult right out of you, leaving only a teary child pleading for her mommy.

My pleas, fortunately, were answered. And I promise I will try not to snap at her today.

As I gratefully spend the day with my mom, I would also like to offer my appreciation to a laundry list (how appropriate) of mothers I know, all of whom have taught me a thing or two about love.

So Happy Mother's Day. . . .


To Kathleen, a motherless child, who gave birth to a beautiful boy one year ago: You struggle every day with the memory of your own mother, who killed herself when you were only 8, and you prove every day, with your fierce love for your son, that children can triumph over legacies of pain. You inspire me.

To the teen mothers at the Business Industry School in Los Angeles, young women who have taken on the greatest responsibility of all, and often by accident: By staying in school and taking advantage of the extraordinary child-care center on your campus, you are proving that the circle can be broken. You are living examples of hope.

To Julie, pregnant now with a boy, who has decided that parenthood must not be missed, even if there is no man with whom to share it--at least not right now: You can't possibly know the struggles and turmoil that await you as a single mother, but the goodness and generosity you have shown your friends over the years will surely be repaid when you need them. And you will need them.

To Kathryn, the frustrated mother of an adolescent girl all but abandoned by her affluent father: Your fight for what is rightfully your child's--thousands upon thousands of dollars in back child support--now spans oceans with his move to another country. Yet you persist, while facing poverty, illness and a callous legal system that has let you down time and again. Your tenacity will, and must, be repaid.

To Janie, who has known financial struggles that would make mere mortals weep: Although the demons prowled at your door, you created a safe, magical cocoon for your 4-year-old daughter, a spirited, loving child with an imagination as big as her mother's heart.

To Guillermina, who came to this country illegally at 15 to give her unborn children a better life: Terrified but determined, you crossed a river that rose to your chin and nearly suffocated in the trunk of a car to get here. You are legal now, you own a home and pay your taxes. And you are the mother of two beautiful American girls, who are sure to be proud of you when you finally tell them your story.

To Saundra, who came home from work one terrible day to find that her toddler son had been caught in gang cross-fire, shot in the head: Your faith in the Lord and your dedication to your son's recovery have meant the difference between a half-life and full one for this astonishing, resilient little boy.

To Janice, whose beloved sister died suddenly and unexpectedly last month, leaving two children alone in the world but for her: Your decision to raise your nephews, while still caring for your ailing mother, is the very definition of selflessness and courage.

To my grandmother, Annie, who even at 89 is a mother lion with her three cubs, aging lions themselves of 70, 65 and 56: Two weeks ago, when the natural order turned on its head, I took you to see your son--my father--recovering from a heart attack. How I wish I'd had a camera to record that precious moment of concerned motherhood--you, with your walker, and Dad with his IV pole, inching down the hospital hallway together.

And to all mothers, wherever you are, may today be full of love and laughter . . . and may your children hold their tongues.

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