Wil Wood, contributing writer
As a shallow, imperceptive male, I didn’t realize why Mother’s Day was so triggering for so many women. I understand, in part, now, and I want to throw my two cents into the banter. I believe my point of view is worth listening to, not because I am a mother but because I had one.
If you were to have asked her, my mother would have told you that she screwed me up. She would have told you that my childhood and teenage low self-esteem was her fault. Not only did I never make the honor roll, I never broke a 3.0 in middle or high school. Objectively, my mother had raised a failure. Both my parents were in the picture, but my father (who was very busy with work) never seemed worried about me because I was, “just like him.”
A year ago, I walked into my parent’s home to see my dad going through the mail and my mother doing yoga. This could be a very typical scene from the life of a retired couple, but my dad hates paperwork and my mom is a double amputee. I’ll focus on my mother and her situation for this article, and more on my experience with adult ADHD another time. Back to yoga.
“Mom,” I said. “You’ve got half a foot on one side and half a leg on the other. That’s so cool you’re doing yoga.”
Scared by something that could be interpreted as a compliment, she immediately went to her usual tactics of deflection and self-deprecation. She replied with something like, “It’s not like I’m climbing a mountain, I’m just rolling around on the floor with what I’ve got.”
That’s what she did her whole life. She just did the best with what she had. I took the photo of our legs on the opposite page in April 2021. In less than a year she’d be gone.
What did I learn from her? Well, according to her, she messed all of her kids up: She yelled at us, forgot practices, bribed us, didn’t show up to things, occasionally she’d forget us and leave us at places like church, zoos, or grocery stores. She did some things wrong, and I guess they actually were wrong, but she was the best mom I ever had. She tried hard and came up short sometimes. My siblings and I can recall lots of the times while living under her roof that we were bothered with her.
So, what is it that makes mother’s hate the day made to recognize them? If it’s that you don’t get properly recognized or compensated for your work, then I’d say you have a fair argument. I will tell you this, though: Her leaving me at the zoo, yelling at me, or never filling out my Eagle Scout paperwork didn’t screw me up. There are many words that I don’t remember. But I do remember how she made me feel. I remember the grilled cheese sandwiches she’d make me with just the right amount of crisp. I remember her skiing without goggles on a powder day when I had lost or ruined yet another pair. I remember her wanting the best for me in school even though it seemed impossible. I remember feeling guilty for breaking my bike again and her telling me something about money: If you use it a lot and it breaks it’s OK to fix it. I remember feeling less guilty. I remember her being jealous of the time I spent with others. I remember her writing letters to me every single week when I left to serve a church mission for two years.
After all of us kids were out of the nest, she had a few good years of health, but her late onset type one diabetes started to catch up with her. Her feet literally started to fall apart. Her eyesight waned. Then her kidneys failed. She was on dialysis for several years and then a neighbor (Jeff Larsen) came over and said his kidney would be a match. Sure enough, it was. He gave my mom five more years of life and that kidney of his was AWESOME! Her eyesight, spunk, and many other things came back to her. We all knew she was on borrowed time and she made the best of it. She literally lived for dinnertime conversations. She treasured and savored her relationships. As families, we would gather at her house and when we would leave, she would stand on her porch with my dad and yell, “Have fun storming the castle!” The grandkids would yell back in delight, “AS YOU WISH!” She would stand there and watch us drive away until we were completely out of sight.
So, I do remember some words. But for all you mothers out there that think that all we remember are words and grades and missed appointments and arguments with no winner, think again. No one remembers a lot of words. We do remember feelings though. Those feelings are what tie us together.