"Mom, Puhleeze!" A Few Thoughts for Mother's Day

Have you turned into your Mother yet?

It happens. After all the times you said, “When I have children, I’ll never...” haven’t you found yourself doing, saying just the things you swore you’d never do or say?

The other night my son was leaving the house after dinner, going back to his so-called cottage, back to a day job where he’s not making a living wage, back to night classes, and I found myself stuffing food in his pockets, in his hands, in his jacket hood. If he’d had trouser cuffs, I would have gotten raisins into them. When he said “Mom, puhleeze!”—what a moment! It was me talking to my mom, telling her I was going to be just fine, to let me make it on my own.

Well, mostly I do—let him make it on his own—but it’s a jungle out there and a few packets of dried soup mix couldn’t hurt, right? I mean it’s not like I’m doing what I want to do which is go tell his landlord he’s overcharging and his boss that he’s underpaying. And I’m not so sure about that night school instructor—that paper he put a C on looked like a B-plus to me. I haven’t said a word to any of them. The kid is on his own.

But I understand, Mom. Now, I really do understand. It is very, very hard to see your fledglings flapping their wings as hard as they can—and sort of sinking more than they’re rising. Every bone in your body wants to whip out there and give them a lift. You stay put, you keep quiet—but you stuff their pockets with apples and baking potatoes.

I work everyday with the stories of people who are sticking their necks out to make the world a better place. And since I realized that I have become my mother, I look through the story files and over and over again I see—mothering. Women who are taking all those urges to nurture, protect, counsel, to make things right no matter what they have to give up or go through, women who are using that mothering stuff to fix the world.

They’ve chasing johns and drug buyers out of neighborhoods so they’ll be safe again. They’re hiding abused kids from their abusers. They’re taking control of run-down housing projects and making them real neighborhoods. They’re teaching ex-cons how to live honestly, non-violently. They’re feeding, clothing, sheltering, encouraging—way beyond their own kids, way out there—mothering the world.

It took turning into my own mother to get me to recognize what I was looking at. And to value its place in the world. We may get “Mom, puhleeze!” from our kids, but when we put those instincts and that energy to work in the world—now there, there you’ve really got something.

Happy Mothers’ Day.

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