My mom (left, age 16 being “introduced to society” at her “Coming Out” party!) nurtured my imaginative side. She made me fairy wings out of aluminum foil and green felt pixie shoes with bells. At bedtime she let me sip hot chocolate as she read amazing tales of adventure and magic from long chapter books. When she painted she gave me a canvas and paints too.
My grandmother Alice, left, on her wedding day, died a few weeks after my parents married. We never knew her. I was lucky enough a few years ago to make renewed contact with her son-in-law who had me laughing hysterically over the phone about Alice and his wife’s escapades! Don reiterated over and over how deeply Alice loved her children and her family. “She was a wonderful, tender mother to your father and uncle.”
My grandmother Josephine, on the right, was kind of a “socialite”. Always fashionable, nothing out of place, she didn’t even learn to cook until much later in life. My mom used to tell me her mother’s signature dish was a grilled cheese sandwich. She did however have a secret recipe for an amazing plum pudding, which she never divulged. I spent weeks with her during the summer. Lazing by the quiet shores of the Olentangy River in Ohio. She used to tell stories about growing up in Ohio…dressmakers, horse-drawn carriages, the first airplanes, steamboat explosions, tragic deaths, and her parents. Over the years her stories guided me as I worked on the family’s genealogy.
Moms. Everyone has one. Strong moms, or struggling moms. Loving moms or absent moms. We are here because someone gave birth to us. I count a woman who is not even biologically related to me as my second mom. She loved and nurtured me just as if I were her “real” child.
I navigated motherhood without my mom. Sometimes it was hard. There were many nights..okay, days too, when I wished I could call her and ask for her help and advice. But I couldn’t. I just kept making hot chocolate for my kids and reading them chapter books.
My mom got suspended from Bryn Mawr in April right before graduation in May. She had to wait a year to graduate. Because she eloped with my father.
My mom was a social worker. She began as a case worker with clients from the poorest areas of our county. At some house calls she was met with a shot-gun. She went back to school to get her Master’s, and during her second year she was in a full length leg cast for six months. She worked her way up in the Department of Social Services and was acting Commissioner for a few years. She volunteered all of her life with organizations that supported families and children, senior citizens, the disabled and the disenfranchised.
Her job, her passion, was service to others. Last year this was brought home thanks to Facebook. I clicked open a message in a file I didn’t even know about. There, at the end of this wireless communication was a man who remembered my family and did a Facebook search to find us. He still, all these years later, remembered all of us with great fondness. I had no recollection of him, but I did remember his mother very fondly.
My mother… 50 years or so ago, reached out and uplifted this man’s mother. She gave her a job. She paid for this man to go to summer camp when he was a kid. She welcomed them into our family and home as friends. My siblings taught him to swim. And he remembered playing with me and my Barbie dolls.
There are hundreds of moms and their children in our own communities who need to be uplifted. Around the world the number swells to millions. Some of these children don’t have a mom any more. Some moms have had to “give up”, or worse, bury their children. I think in particular of the mothers in Syria who are facing unimaginable heartache and suffering.
If you’re reading this, let us honor all mothers. Your mom, your grandmothers, moms everywhere. You can help a mom or a child, or both, this Mother’s Day. You can make a real difference and give a mother, a child or both, a chance to be safe, to be healthy, to get an education, to survive. You can uplift someone. To help them thrive.
So, pick an organization that uplifts women, mothers, children and donate. Or click here: Gifts For Mom
And, let’s not forget that today, historically speaking, Mother’s Day is not as it was originally intended. It is important to remember why we have Mother’s Day…the original one, even if we celebrate it differently. Original Mother’s Day Proclamation
Proclamation for Mother’s Day 1870
“Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: Disarm, Disarm!”
Julia Ward Howe
Here’s to moms, all kinds of moms. And to those who know the kind of love a mother feels and offers that love unconditionally to others.