Ode To Mom
By Ron Ciancutti
She’s the first person you see. You’re fortunate, too, because in your life, you will never know someone who cares for you this deeply from the second you arrive. In fact, she was caring for you for months before you even showed up. Everything she ate, every hour she slept, everything she DIDN’T do for many months was all based on making sure you were OK on the day you did decide to show up.
Oh, and when you did show up, it was no picnic. You emerged from her fully baked (in most cases), a full-grown infant opening your eyes for the first time, and as you shook and shuddered awake, that familiar tone and scent and sound of her came to your nose and ears and calmed you down. She wasn’t even mad at you for all the pain she had just endured as she held you close that first day.
Famous poets have written about her, and all of us took a stab at writing the perfect Mother’s Day verse in our grade-school scrawls. Sons like Paul Harvey gave homage in his famous radio essays, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy mentioned with a smile, now and then, that his mother strongly suggested he get a fresh haircut before going on television or giving an important speech. That’s what mothers do.
Almost every athlete that the camera finds on the sideline, every American Idol wannabe who is filmed in silent prayer, delivers an impassioned, “Hi, Mom.” Because deep down, she’s the one you want most to impress.
The Unwavering Support
And she shows up. She’s there to read to you at story time, and she’s there sewing ears on your hat for a special Halloween costume. She parks a block away from the school so your friends don’t see you being dropped off, and she slips in and out of the school office undetected when you forget your lunch or class project. She paints the posters for the class election and mixes the lemonade for the stand you create in the front yard.
She laughs at the ridiculous riddle you just created and yells “cover your neck” every winter morning as you scramble out the door. She listens to you lament as you sob into your pillow about the Valentine you didn’t get, and she chokes up as she chaperones the prom and sees you asking a young lady to dance in your shy way.
She has stacks of your artwork and piles of your pictures, and loudly brags about you to Grandma on the phone—which makes you feel pretty good. There is no one better at peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and she knows that, when friends are over the crust stays on, but when the friends leave, the crusts are to be cut off (just between you and me, buddy).
At night, when she blesses you and her cool hands touch your face, you smell a mixture of soap, lotion, and whatever spices were included in tonight’s dinner because she makes it, cleans up after it, and tries to stay soft afterwards; it’s an aroma you miss when you’re lying on your college dorm bed after another box of macaroni and cheese.
And now and then you say something, or she hears a song or spots a toddler in a store who reminds her of you, and you see her look off with a tear in her eye. She remembers things you won’t, knows things about you even you don’t know, and in that flash she knows that the innocence of that previous time will never return, and it was so very sweet, so unforgettable. “What’s wrong, Mom?”
“Nothing, honey. Nothing at all,” she says with a smile.
The Ultimate Cheerleader
And don’t think the business side of life escapes her eye either. It’s Mom who usually encourages you to drag that mower down the block to ask if Mrs. MaGillicutty needs her lawn cut. She buys you the blazer and tie for church and the school picture, and encourages you to join the team or try the paper route. And when the job is done, no one is as proud as Mom, who is also quick to remind you how nice it is to earn a little money of your own.
You see, NO ONE makes as big a deal of your accomplishments as she does. She is the ultimate cheerleader, the framer of certificates, the announcer of feats both great and small. Mom magnifies everything you encounter and instills pride, honor, and the first hints of integrity with great stealth. Yes, you may model yourself after Dad, but it’s Mom who guides you to become a “man”—with clean fingernails, brushed teeth, combed hair, and a tucked-in shirt, standing straight and tall and looking people in the eye.
Mom even brings her daughter to her job now and then to set an example and remind young ladies that they should be able to depend on themselves or be able to contribute to a two-income family. There are many kinds of moms, and what they contribute to the family shows character and strength in a variety of ways. Mom reveals that life may not be easy, but can always be handled.
You even learn how to emulate Mom in the later years by watching her take such good care of her own parents as they age and grow feeble. And, at some point, you step back and marvel at the enormous body of work she put together to be all these things—mom, wife, daughter, sister, teacher, nurse, etc.
The Silent Partner
And then one night, as the family is munching on popcorn, which she just delivered to the family room, and she sits down to join everyone, having missed the first half of the show, you glance over and notice she has fallen asleep. Your smile fades, and maybe for the first time you realize that she’s tired. Maybe, after all those years of being supportive and helping you find your dreams, Mom has a right to be a little worn out. Perhaps you stop and think how much time you put into last year’s birthday present for her. Do you even remember what you gave her? Maybe you look at the clothes she’s wearing and recall she’s been wearing that same sweatshirt for years because she rarely spends money on herself. Do you give a Valentine to Mom or just your significant other? When’s the last time she received a real bouquet of flowers to show her friends how much her children appreciate her? Maybe you should give Dad a nudge, or do it yourself.
See, moms don’t ask for or even want payment. Their main pursuit in life is seeing you happy. And it should make you happy to give to the one who has done so much for you. Be sure to do so this year. She should hear and know your gratitude every day; certainly, once a year isn’t much to ask.
Happy Mother’s Day, ladies!
Ron Ciancutti worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He is now retired. He holds a B.S. in Business from Bowling Green State University and an M.B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.