This weekend, families across the nation will spend time honoring mothers. Countless cards, bouquets of flowers, breakfasts in bed and spa treatments will be purchased or made, and on Sunday morning mothers (no matter where they are) will smile appreciatively and say, “Thank you, that’s just what I wanted” — even if the eggs are burned, the flowers came out of the front yard and the card is colored in crayons and smells of paste.
In our community, many mothers have great reason to be celebrated.
They are the mothers who leave their children in someone else’s care, put on their boots and sling their weapon to stand a line in defense of our freedom. They watch their children grow via the Internet and photos. They can’t be there to hold their children when they are sick, because they are holding a wounded comrade. They see school plays and projects via camcorders. They are the mothers who sacrifice spending birthdays and Christmas with their children, so that others can do so.
There’s another set of mothers who sacrifice as well. They are the mothers who carry the load of their families while their husbands are deployed in support of our nation. They are the mothers who spend countless hours ensuring that their children do not worry too much about their dads. They are the mothers who tell their children their dads will be just fine, and after they put them to bed either cry themselves to sleep or don’t sleep at all because they are too worried about their spouses.
They are the mothers who volunteer to be T-ball and soccer coaches — even though they don’t know what they are doing — because it’s important to their children. They are the mothers who spend all day at work, only to go home to cook dinner, do homework, mow the yard, pay the bills and climb into a lonely bed. And then, they get up the next day and do it all over again.
Military wives and soldiers (who are mothers) are some of the strongest women I’ve ever met. They put on a brave face and do what needs to be done — even though their hearts jump into their throats every time the phone rings or someone knocks on their door or they receive a deployment notice.
They are never too busy to help a friend out — even though their hands are already filled to overflowing, and when it gets to be too much, they have a quick cry, which usually ends in laughter, and get back up on their feet.
I’m proud to be in their number. Unlike some military wives, I had a head start. I was raised in a military family. I saw my mother carry the load. I watched her stretch a dime until it screamed, keep five children spit and polish clean, keep an immaculate house and be the first one to go visit or take care of someone who was sick. I learned from her example.
I look at my hands now, and I see hers. My mother’s hands were always busy (with five kids how could they not be?). No task was too unimportant to be seen to, and no event unworthy of notice. No lesson was too small for her to take the time to teach her children. Lessons on hard work, compassion, independence, faith and love were not only spoken, they were seen in her everyday life.
She died shortly after I turned 18. I often think about all the times she was both mom and dad — and how easy she made it all seem. I wonder what she would think about me.
I see my hands, which look so much like hers, but I’ve yet to see the grace hers carried in their every move. But if I’m lucky, when my son looks back, maybe he will remember them that way.
Contact Janice Burton at: firstname.lastname@example.org