Column: Mothers are like that


Commentary by Donna Monday

The world, it is said, is divided into mothers and others. And even the others wouldn’t be here without the mothers. Maybe that’s why the word “mother” is so important to us.

Mothers are revered and maligned. They are the subjects of poems, songs and of dissertations. “Mother” is a word heard on the cross and in the classroom.

What we tend to forget, especially on Mother’s Day, is that mothers are real, live people, born, like everybody else, from some other woman’s body. Mothers are mortal, and mothers make mistakes. Mothers all have one thing in common — children.

From the day her child is placed in her arms until the day she dies, a woman is a mother. There is no going back. Being a mother is not like being a lawyer. You can’t just “give it up” and go do something else. Likewise, having a mother isn’t like having a lawyer. You can’t just go get another one when this one isn’t to your liking. Mother and child are “stuck” with one another.

Mothers start out by being bigger and prettier and smarter than you are. Actually, that’s just nature’s camouflage. In truth, new mothers are scared stiff. They don’t know if they can “do it or not.” That’s why God made them bigger and prettier and smarter, so they could look themselves in the mirror and say, “I’m bigger and prettier and smarter than this kid. I can do this.”

Mothers whistle in the dark a lot. They choose especially bright crayons on days with tornado warnings. They take little hands and head down big paths. They don’t tell you they’ve never been down that path before. Mothers are like that. But you must be patient with them. Mothers have to learn as they go. There are no diplomas offered in motherhood, no degrees and no midterms. There aren’t even any unions.

On the other hand, there is no discrimination. Mothers may be rich or poor, Black or white, brown, red or yellow. And they have power. They decide when you eat, what you eat and how much. They decide who you can play with and when, when you go to bed and when you get up. Mothers are like that. At least for a few years.

Then nature pulls the same trick on you she did on your mother. You get bigger, stronger, prettier and smarter. You think your mom is dumb. This is a phase. Nature is lulling you into thinking you can do all these things your mom has done for you. You, too, can be a mother.

Do yourself a favor this Mother’s Day. If your mother is still living, tell her you love her. It will be the best present she gets. If she’s not still living, tell her anyway. She will hear you. Mothers are like that.