On Mother's Day
I have never not been a sentimental person. I cried as a four year old when Mufasa died in The Lion King (and still do, every time). I cried when a close family member went through a difficult divorce. I cried when I lost my grandparents. I cried for every dead character on Grey's Anatomy. I cried when I got hired for my first job, before I had even graduated from college. I cried when the minister at our wedding spoke of the unconditional love found in Jesus. I am a crier.
All those tears don't nearly add up to the ones I've seen my mother cry. She has cried out of anger, and yet been angrier still that she was crying. She has cried for me mourning my grandparents, as she mourned that loss of her own. My mom has cried when I have been heartbroken, and when I have broken her heart. I'm sure she cried when I was born, and she cried with me after the birth of my son. My mom is a crier.
For years, I have been tough on my mom. You need to be strong, I tell her. When she cries over her mom and dad, I remind her to be thankful she had them, as my father didn't have his for very long at the hands of Castro and cancer. When she cries over family arguments, I remind her that she knows the flaws of who she married and the children she bore, and it will blow over soon. When she cries over her grandson, I remind her not to be silly, that she gets to spend plenty of time with him and has much more left to share. I beg her not to cry, because I hate to see it. My heart aches at the sight of her pain or sadness.
On the eve of my first Mother's Day as a mother, even as I write this, I am crying. My mother is a crier. I inherited that from her. I have inherited many good things from her, that perhaps I haven't taken the time to enumerate enough over the years. My mother loves fiercely, with her whole heart that is malleable and raw. I never understood how she could love so tenderly and feel so sentimental over the simplest of things.
When I first heard the steady heartbeat of my baby, I understood. When I felt him move ever so slightly in my belly, I understood. When I heard him cry as my doctor pulled him into this world the morning he was born, I understood. When he first opened those big, blue eyes and looked at me, I understood. When he had his first vaccine and cried out in pain, I understood. When I heard his first laugh, I understood.
My mom is not just a crier. I am not just a crier. We are women who bear the heart of a mother. It is a beautiful, wonderful, excruciating, magnificent thing to have your heart outside of your body, crying and laughing, rolling and sitting, crawling and walking, then running into, around, and out of your life, your home. What a gift we've been given, to love this much. How sad it is not to have recognized our mothers' gift for so many years. But how blessed it is for that suddenly to change, the moment you understand. The moment you, too, gain the heart of a mother.
Mom, this Mother's Day, I may not be able to give you much, but I can give you my thanks for the love you have for me, that I now begin to understand. I can never deserve it. I suppose that is part of its beauty. It's how you can open your arms to me again and again, each time I break your heart as your child. I can ask your forgiveness for the times I have been the cause of your sadness and pain, even though I cannot take those times back. I can smile with you, as we watch my son and your grand baby grow up, together. I can cry with you when he breaks my heart, as all children do, and you will cry with me, too, even as you might think, Now she truly sees. I do. I understand.
Thank you for teaching me to be a crier, Mom. Thank you for showing me the way you've always loved, with your mother's heart. Maybe one day, far away, my child will understand me and my tears, too. Until then, I'll cry and laugh with you.
Happy Mother's Day to all you mamas, and especially to mine.