Sunday, May 8, 2011
To My Imperfect Mom on Mother's Day
Most parents are doing the best they can with the resources they have at the moment, their "lousy best" as my sister often says. Their parents weren't perfect either, after all. My mom raised ten kids amid constant change with no extended family around to help. Daddy was in the Navy and we packed up every three to four years to move to a new house in a new place -- sort of like the Mad Hatter's tea party on speed. Some kids keep milestones like what they did on such-and-such a birthday. I measure my life by the name of my street, the layout of the house, and the school of the year. At the time it seemed an adventure; in retrospect I wouldn't have wanted to rear my own children on the fly.
Mom was an amazing woman in many ways. The thing I remember most is that she was unceasingly cheerful. I don't remember her complaining about anything and with ten kids and lots of challenges she certainly could have spent her life feeling sorry for herself. She didn't. She just went about doing her never ending duties of washing, cooking, cleaning, taking us to church and confession, etc. with a smile on her face. When she had health problems she dealt with them and spent little time in bed. I remember after knee surgery how she sat on the table with a weighted bag around her ankle lifting and bending and crying from the pain. She was determined to regain full range of motion. The doctors said she never would. She proved them wrong.
On top of that she was a good officer's wife going with daddy to all the social events that went with his jobs. I remember as a little girl seeing her dressed for a fancy party and thinking she looked like a princess. She was always lovely and meticulous and almost always wearing a skirt or dress except during the coldest days of winter. One of my sisters asked her daughter once what she thought dressing modestly meant and she said, "Dressing like Grandma." What an insightful answer.
None of us is a perfect mom. I often tell my kids that I always tried to give everything I had. Sometimes it was only a thimbleful, sometimes it was a glassful. I wish it could have always been an ocean full. For all of us there's a big gap between the love we need and the love we receive. That's because, as St. Augustine says, our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord. In the meantime, moms try to fill that gap doing "our lousy best."
So here's to my mom today. Your "lousy best" was better than most, Mom. Thanks for everything