On Mother’s Day

Today has been Mother’s Day. The talks in Church focused on mothers and gospel living. Sister Simmons, one of the coolest ladies ever ( she might be 70+– I don’t know), gave a fiery talk about dedication to righteousness and truth. It’s easy to love that woman.

I gave Annemarie an iPod for Mother’s Day. This is our first foray into any kind of MP3 player. I was so eager to finally give it to her that I actually gave it to her yesterday. I had loaded about 180 songs into it before I gave it to her. She loves it.

Then I was the one who slept in today. My wife is truly remarkable. I spent all day Saturday on my feet, doing work and other stuff around here and when I hit the sack I slept like the dead. Truth is, I’ve been sleeping very heavily these days. Probably a combination of being under the weather but very pressed for time to get a lot of stuff done.

But I felt bad when I woke up at 9 or so and she was up and was feeding the kids. I had wanted to do that– didn’t even hear my alarm.

Anyway, I hope I made up for it over the rest of the day. Ask her if you want to know if I succeeded.

Hey, the chicken noodle soup I made for dinner- along with breadsticks- was really good.

But now I’ve been checking Facebook and Twitter and have been seeing all of the updates that say things like, “Thanks Mom” and “Mom, you’re the best,” and “I wouldn’t be me without you Mom.” And other very sincere and lovely sentiments.

I don’t want to turn this issue into an attention grab. It’s not an issue. And I am not seeking pity or sympathy. I think I just need to get something off my chest.

I am so jealous of people who can write those things sometimes. I fight it and pray to get rid of it and think I’m there and then it happens again. Envy and unrealistic and impossible wishes fill me.

A mom.

I see my kids with their mom. She’s amazing. They can be clamoring- one on top of the other and shouting to be heard over their own clamor- for her attention and she is able to get things done and get people chilled. Sure, she comes down on them hard sometimes– they deserve it.

But my kids, you see. They have this relationship with their mom that– it’s just a part of them. It’s all they’ve known. They absolutely know– like they know the sun rises– that mom is there for them. Mom loves them. Mom lives to keep them healthy, happy and learning. Mom makes breakfast. Mom knows where things are. Mom knows them and listens to them. Mom teaches. Mom plays with them.

Mom sits in the driveway with #5 and just enjoys him and lets him explore and live and learn and love and be beautiful.

I look at Annemarie and we talk about things and I sometimes get a glimpse of something extraordinary and almost supernatural. The love she has for these critters is something of legend, something of mystery and incredibly magnificent. She would deny this and set down a laundry list of her faults.

But that list would be brief and limited. The list of what she has done for our family and the moments she lives for when her love is the. only. light. and. comfort. that will do for these kids are infinite. I can hug, clean wounds and talk things out. Her hugs and sweet words, her ability to listen and feel their pain and somehow in doing that reduce that pain is… There’s no other way to say it. It clearly comes from the Divine and Annemarie embodies it so beautifully.

And my kids are blessed with this great mom who has made the decision to devote herself to them and this family. There’s no question. No doubt. No chance of it ever changing.

I tell Annemarie that #1 is over halfway to the point that he will head out of the house. I say it happily. She feels a tight, painful urgency to enjoy him and love him.

I am so envious of my kids.

I can honestly say, “Mom, without you, I would not be where I am.” Except I never called my mother anything but her first name. And she wasn’t there. She did clean some of my wounds when I was very little. She made me soak a finger I had slashed in a cup of hydrogen peroxide every morning. In lieu of stitches, she put a very, very tight band-aid on it.

But by the time I was eight, my contact with her consisted of phone calls every couple of months, a birthday and a Christmas gift and the occasional visit.

It wasn’t divorce. It was something else. Cult, kibbutz, other priorities– call it what you will.

She died when I was about 25– about 10-11 years ago. I hugged her goodbye.

I knew she was my mom. I was her son.

But I had never enjoyed a relationship with her that in any way approximates or resembles what my kids enjoy. I actually have no idea what it is supposed to feel like to love your mom and know she loves you and would do anything for you. My mom wasn’t like that at all. It feels weird to refer to her as ‘mom.’

I don’t think she was a mother. She had three sons but I am not sure if she ever really grasped motherhood.

But again, I don’t know.

I know I loved her. I didn’t know her, understand her, get her reasons for the choices she had made her entire adult life. But I felt love for her. Probably biological in part and probably because I knew I was supposed to.

In her final years, we were a little closer. I was more of an adult and I was learning about family. But we were never very close.

I know I am in part to blame for that. I never felt an urgent need to connect– and I should have.

Again, I just don’t know what that relationship can or should feel like. It’s like a person who has been deaf from birth. Sound is a foreign thing– a completely unexperienced thing– a thing that you never really have any way of understanding because it’s never been part of your experience.

So maybe this is why I am so often stupefied by how much Annemarie is a mom and how much she can take and how fierce is her love for our critters.

And the final thing is I don’t get how my mother could possibly allow herself to miss out on being a mom to us brothers for so long. Talking with my kids. Getting to know them. Seeing my sweet, beautiful #2 after he has done a face plant off his bike onto unforgiving asphalt. It fills me with joy unspeakable and inexplicable. It’s a joy from another place- an external source that seems to be filled with joy unending that is ripe for the sipping as I see and love my children and wife.

How could a person choose to just miss out on that?

I held my #5– he’s almost 2– today while I comforted #2 after his fall. My #5 fell asleep on my shoulder, leaving a damp patch of drool on me.

I want to weep with the feeling of great satisfaction and fulfillment that gave me. I feel it now.

I pray to my Father in Heaven that I will soon be filled with greater forgiveness and greater satisfaction in the knowledge that He- my true and eternal parent- has never left my side. Has always been there for me, even when no others were. I don’t want the joy I have with my family to be tainted by the feeling of a lack from my childhood.

I do wish I could say my mother had raised me and I had learned so much from her.

Although I guess I can. Her absence- physical and emotional- informs my life as a husband and father- telling me to never be absent and to always cherish. I was raised without a relationship that others take for granted, and I know I never will take for granted the relationship I have with my wife and kids.

I learned plenty from her. Non-lessons and opposites to be sure- but I learned anyway.

Thanks Mom. I know you’re with our Father. I believe you are able to see me and my family at times. I pray your earthly choices to miss out on so much of family don’t haunt you or taint your joy at being with so much of our family- even your last husband whom I know you loved very much.

I do love you, Magdalen. I always will. I love that we will be together in the eternities. I am confident that we will have the time to forge the relationship we both avoided in life.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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