-- Kate Douglas Wiggin
So, yesterday I had my last work party for Caroline's preschool and it was bittersweet and wonderful as I scrubbed the fridge and cleaned off the rice table and in my heart tried to say good-bye and thank you to such a wonderful spot. I came home and Caroline eagerly handed me a gift: an envelope decorated with hearts all around it ("a heart bracelet" according to her) and carefully folded inside was this note. "I love mom. From Caroline" was all the text it carried...five words...and yet it profoundly changed my day.
I love mom.
I stopped and nuzzled those cherub cheeks. I paused and looked into those curious eyes and I thanked the universe for such a gift. In that moment, I wanted to be worthy and ready and energized by that love. I wanted to erase all of the mistakes I've ever made in this job that is filled with contradictions. As a mom you must be tough and gentle. Forgiving and Forgiven. Clever yet simple. You must guard their privacy and yet be responsible enough to know exactly what they are up to. You must be ever ready and present and yet able to live on the sidelines letting them go. You must be the leader and the visionary until the moment your child embraces their own vision and needs you to follow. You are the biggest cheerleader and the president of the fan club but judge and jury too. It all comes down to that middle word: love.
And so, all day long even as the outside kept drizzling and the goo in my shower grossed me out and the house seemed messy and relentlessly unorganized, I flashed by to my bracelet hearts and those three words: I love mom.
You know, there was a hand I grabbed as the tears started down my cheeks at Jack's Baccalaureate Mass and it wasn't John's...it was my mom's. Somehow in that moment with no words, I knew I could hold her hand and get through. I could watch Jack and feel the heartache that my world was changing and be comforted by her hand. And with her unchanging presence and constant love, I was soothed. It might not be a precipice I was standing on, hey, maybe it's a plateau. Holding her hand, I was able to let in the thought: this is all right. It is all good. It is what you hope for and dream about and imagine...it's just that we don't know what the rest of the story looks like. Stop. Notice. Feel. It's going to be all right.
And so yesterday, as I enjoyed my Saturday with a heart bracelet glow, I wondered about how many times I have stopped and said: "I love mom." Oh, I know. I know. I'm good about the Hallmark moments: the birthdays, the Christmases or Mother's Day moments. But, when was the last heart bracelet I gave my mom? When did she get from me a spontaneous, undeserved, uncalled for "I love mom"?
Even with lymphoma (my mom's), retirement (dad's), two knee replacements (mom's) and assorted other Big Things, when did I just pause enough to let her know? I'm embarrassed to say, not recently enough for my liking.
So mom: here is an unsolicited heart bracelet just for you. Here is my unabashed three word sentence:
I love mom.
Thank you for your constancy, your care, your presence at the big moments and your presence in the little ones. Thank you for your love in all of the many ways you show it: postcards on trips, 16 presents for a 16th birthday, copies of favorite photos, turkey sandwiches or the best chicken salad on a quick visit down for lunch, phone calls, letters, emails and yes, even the endless "pearls". I am so grateful you are nearby and present and get it. I love mom and I'm blessed as can be to get to tell you now when it really matters.