I'm a mom. Maybe you're a mom. Or maybe you're married to a mom. Or maybe you have a mom. Well, OK, if you're reading this, you do have a mom, because moms are the only way we get here.
Moms are the great common denominator of mankind. We don't have to do anything in order to have a mom. We just show up and there she is. She, on the other hand, does a lot to get us here. Having a baby is about the hardest physical experience a woman can have. And to show how tough (or forgetful) they are, many moms have more than one.
Moms don't need much advice to do the things they do. They're equipped with this internal mothering instinct. In fact, what many young moms actually need is the confidence to know it's OK to listen to that instinct. They're just not used to having so many automatic, inborn answers to the flood of questions that naturally arise when a tiny, wailing bundle of humanity drops into their arms and they catch a terrifying glimpse of their own immortality manifest in something roughly the size and shape of a bowling ball.
But whispered in their ear is a code, coming down to them from generations before them, from moms and grandmas and great-grandmas and beyond that says, "Honey, I did it and so can you. You'll do fine. Just listen." So wise moms learn to listen carefully to those instinctive whisperings because kids don't come with instruction manuals.
A young mom listens and hears that there is life after diapers; her brain is not turning to oatmeal; middle-of-the-night feedings usually end just about the time she's certain she can't wake up at 2 a.m. again; a sweet bond is lost when her baby finally does sleep through the night; it's OK to check on her breathing any time she feels like it; the other side of encouraging her baby to crawl is that when she does, then she'll wish she'd stay in one place; when that little one starts learning to walk, she also starts walking away; and this is going to be over so quick, she'll wonder where this season went and want it back.
A mom of a youngster is going to listen and hear that it's OK to cry when he leaves for the first time on the school bus, as long as he doesn't see it; grade school homework is nothing compared to what's coming; bullies will always exist; if her child doesn't learn the basics now, he's going to struggle a lot more later on; science projects do have a purpose; the absolutely worst thing she can say to him is she wishes he would grow up because he surely will; and this season will end so quickly, she'll wonder where it went and want it back.
Then she blinks and finds herself trying to guide teens through those tempestuous years, and sometimes begs the whisper to shout so she can hear it. She listens and learns that teens are scared, no matter what they say; they want their mom to help them but don't ever want to detect it; they long for their mom's approval though they'd deny it; their emotions are on hyper-drive, so sometimes they don't even know how they're feeling or why they do what they do; and this season will end so quickly, she'll wonder where it went and want it back.
Mother's Day is Sunday and folks are asking themselves, What does Mom want? Well, it's simple. What a mom wants more than anything is an answer to the question, Did she listen well enough to the instincts? Did she raise them alright?
Moms raise their kids to ultimately leave them. All too soon, the kids move on, fly away, make their own way in the world -- that's how it's supposed to go. But the irony is Mom really can't tell if she raised them right until the kids are no longer with her. What she needs to know is that they're going to be alright -- that they're going to know how to live their lives -- even when she's not there.
The instinct has taught -- from those first stumbling, toddler steps until they're walking away for good -- that a mom isn't so much someone to lean on as someone who eventually makes leaning unnecessary.
Figure out how to show her you understand that, and you'll give her the greatest gift she can receive.
You may contact D. Louise Brown at email@example.com or by calling her editor at 801-625-4223.