I’m three years old, maybe four, and I’ve hurt myself. My mother sets me on the kitchen counter, breaks an egg into a bowl, adds a little sugar, and whisks it up into a frothy and delicious treat. The sweetest medicine, and my injury recedes into the background.
Sometimes all you want is Mom. This, though it’s not quite Mother’s Day yet, is for my mom, just because I’ve been missing her lately. And it’s for the all mothers and daughters and sons separated by either geography, or by invisible and less tangible barriers, or by that separation with the longest fingers of all, death.
I remember feeling utterly safe in the presence of my mother as a young child, safe in the intuition that was clear and strong long before I could put it into words: Mom would put her life on the line for me if necessary.
Once, on a hot, dry, southern Alberta July day, my Mom—always ready to inject a little pleasure into our days even when hers were non-stop work—wrapped the plaster cast I had on my broken four-year-old ankle in a plastic bag so I could swim in the laundry bucket sitting on the back lawn, because she understood. And then, because we had no car and because the plastic bag was insufficient to keep the cast dry, she took my little brother and me to ride the bus downtown so the doctor could replace it.
Another time, my baby brother sleeping on the car seat with the car doors wide open as we had a picnic lunch in Jasper National Park, she rushed past the black bear that had come between her and her child. The bear reared before it left, and she still has the scar on her arm.
Mom would, in the distant future, drop her own life to be there with me in childbirth, to feed my baby in the night, to defend my choice to have a home birth, and much later still, embrace as family the wonderful man I chose to share my life with after my first marriage ended miserably.
What we hunger for when we miss our mothers is someone unconditionally in our court. Not in a false, coddling, you-can-do-no-wrong kind of way—I think those mothers produce self-absorbed adults with an inordinate number of blind spots— but someone who knows us deeply, and understands, and can come stand in solidarity with us when we’re alone and out on a limb. Someone who is unafraid to offer her opinion when she sees you’re taking a major wrong turn. Someone who can at times be a cheerleader, and at others just remain present in a dark hour.
Thanks to you Mom, for your patient love and support, and to my children, for your forgiveness when I fall short.