For me, there’s a difference between Mother and Mom. My early years, spent with my Mom, were modified when I turned fifteen. That’s when I found out Mom wasn’t Mother. Biologically speaking, that is. I learned that Mother was the woman I knew as Big Sister, and Mom was my Grandmother. I wasn’t terribly surprised at the time. There had been subtle clues. At the time, the bottom line was that my last name was something else and I would go through my sophomore year of high school with a new identity. The last name I gained wasn’t even that of my Father. My Mother didn’t know for sure who he was.
I still lived with Mom and Dad and Mother would appear from time to time. Our interactions were tense, to say the least. The following year, my little sister and I were adopted by our Grandparents, making them officially (legally) Mom and Dad.
Mom was my best friend, my ally, my support. I know that like any teenage boy I disappointed her once in a while. I can remember some of those times as some of the most painful in my life. The most painful though was the evening she died in the hospital. She had suffered from pancreatic cancer that had spread quickly. She was resting and my sister and I had gone for dinner. When we got back, my father-in-law was waving at us from the window of her room. I took off running, my sister at my side, but I soon outpaced her. Too late, I reached her bedside.
I was then chastised for my attitude. I was grateful for her passing. I knew she was no longer suffering and at peace with her Lord. I didn’t cry. Many thought I should have been a sobbing mess, I guess. I had my time with her on this Earth, and it was good. I knew that. I’m sure she did, too. I didn’t let the criticism of others bother me. They didn’t understand her the way I did.
Since then, I became a father. The mother of my three daughters was a good woman. She didn’t deserve the way I treated her. She did the best she could after I left and she brought the girls the best values there were. The lessons didn’t ‘stick’ for all of them, but so far, they’ve turned out well. She was a good mother. She crossed over in 2001. She was a mom.
The mother of my stepchildren is an incredibly strong woman. She has been through a worse hell than I brought upon my first wife. Her ex was a thorn for many years after she left him. Her children have provided more than one occasion to wonder about the sanity of procreation. And yet, she persevered. She took the steps to make sure her children were at least taught the life of love. Most are still young, but all are out of the nest. She now flourishes in her own power, her own confidence. She is a mom.
Today is a day set aside in this country to honor these women and all like them. It saddens me that, as a society, we put one day aside for the people who mean so much to the next generation. In the traditions of the Aboriginal people of this continent, the women have been highly respected. Less so recently, thanks to the intrusion of Caucasian influence. I do my best on a daily basis to let my wife know she’s important, that she’s respected. My greatest hope is that my sons-in-law and stepson-in-law know they need to treat my daughters the same way.
I also do my best to let my daughter know that her role as mother is more important that any job. I would communicate the same to my other daughter, but she doesn’t want to hear from me. My prayers still rise on the smoke for her. Our ancestors knew to watch over the children diligently. I wish I had known that thirty years ago, but my heredity was not known to me. Still, I know now, and in part knew then, that nurturing our offspring was important to maintaining our values. We, those known most commonly as ‘Indians’, are taught to be mindful of the next seven generations. SEVEN. Most Americans are lucky to think ahead two!
So for today, I offer prayers for all the mothers. Past, present and future. I give thanks on the wind for those mothers that have gone before us. I ask for strength for those who are here now. I pray for a good world for those to come.
Blessings, Love and Peace