Today, we think about Mom.
We think about that time when we had finished kindergarten and were sad because we didn’t study dinosaurs as first graders like we did in kindergarten, and so Mom gathered some materials together and acted as our dinosaur mentor. We think about that time when, at age 11, we moved to a strange city in a new state, and we we didn’t feel like we had any friends–except for Mom. And we think about that time when we didn’t get that job or promotion or grade or whatever that we really wanted. But Mom didn’t think any less of us. She loved us.
I don’t know why I’m using the first-person plural (we/us), and I guess it sounds kind of funny. But maybe you can see yourself in some of these stories, too. I don’t know. Maybe you and I both have similar stories of Mom doing things for us because she loved us.
That love Mom has for us is profound. Maybe it has something to do with the pains and travails that she goes through so that we can take our first breath in this world and have a mortal life. I don’t know. It’s impossible for me to know by my own experience, but I believe the sources that say that giving birth includes a great deal of physical pain.
But that physical pain Mom feels for us at birth isn’t all that Mom goes through for us. She sacrifices a lot so that we can have what we need when we are small, even helpless creatures. She gives us attention. She plays with us. She feeds us–some of us even from her own body. She teaches us to be kind, to clean up after ourselves, and to respect others. She teaches us to take care of our bodies and to be wise about the things that we do. She’s done more for us than we perhaps realize. She loves us.
It’s true–mothers have a profound influence on us. Perhaps there is no greater influence a person can have than that which a loving mother has for her children.
I don’t mean to assume that mothers are perfect. Nobody is perfect. But one does not have to be perfect to have a lot of influence.
In 1821, the English poet Percy Shelley wrote a treatise called A Defense of Poetry, the last sentence of which reads, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World.” He was talking about how poets have a greater influence on society and the world at large than people realize, and he was partially right, though that’s a discussion for another day. What I am curious about is the degree to which we can substitute “mothers” for “poets” in his treatise and still have true statements. Are mothers unacknowledged legislators of the world?
Furthermore, because of the potential positive influence of mothers, we must be cautious that, in our zeal to ensure that both men and women are treated equally in the workplace and in the home and in society and everywhere, we should not mock those courageous women who freely choose motherhood, the raising and teaching and loving of children, over and instead of other pursuits. A woman that chooses to be a mother–or even a full-time stay-at-home mom if she thinks that is what is best–ought to be honored, not demeaned, respected, and not debased. Besides–that mother may have more of an influence than she–or the world at large–may acknowledge.
But her children will certainly at least try to acknowledge it, won’t we? I confess I don’t totally understand all of the good my mom has done for me, but I do know that I simply can’t say how grateful I am for the positive influence she has had in my life. I thank her. And I thank all of the other moms out there, if not the unacknowledged then perhaps too often the underacknowledged legislators of the world. Today, however, we remember you and honor you.