This past November, my oldest sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. As cancer treatment does to people, it has consumed her daily life and each day has involved preparing for surgery, or chemo, or shots, or tests, or waiting on results. She has been amazing and is reaching her last part of her journey and then the day when she feels normal once again.
Walking beside her this entire way has been my mom. She has been there for every appointment and chemotherapy session, and held her hand as she came out of every procedure and ultimately surgery to remove the tumor. She has brought her meals and been a loving nurse to her as she suffered the effects of chemo on her entire body. She has cared for her at my sister’s house at her own house. She was there standing next to her when she rang the bell indicating the end of chemo treatments. She has provided a comfort and peace that comes from a caring mother and I am lucky that she is my mom as well.
I’ve learned everything I need to know from my mom. There are times to be strong but there are also times when you are going to fall. When you fall, it is perfectly acceptable to cry and hurt and be angry as you slowly make your way to your feet again. You do have to make your way to your feet again; sometimes you will take strength from those who need you to stand firmly once again. Life will make you laugh and smile, but it will also hurt you and take away things you hold so dear. Some days you will have confidence in every decision you make. Other days you will look yourself in the mirror and question every detail of your existence.
A loving mom will help you realize that all of these things are normal and will be there to support you through every crazy phase of your life. She will even be there if you get sick like my sister did, and hold you through it just like she held you through every ear infection, new tooth, first love, and first heartbreak. Most importantly, she will teach you how to be a mom yourself one day just like her own Mom taught her.
In my own life, I just celebrated my son’s 20th birthday. It’s hard not to think back to when he was born and all of the hopes and dreams I had for him. Would I have what it takes to be a strong mother who could raise a respectful and caring man? Would I be able to show him my strengths and weaknesses so he could learn to be human and accept that none of us are perfect?
I recently was invited by my son to speak to his fraternity about ethics in business and I received a text from him after. He wrote “Thanks again for coming tonight and for everything you do. I would obviously not be anywhere near the position I’m in today if I didn’t have your love and support. A lot of my fraternity brothers came up to me and told me how amazing you are. I felt like the luckiest son alive. Love you Mom.” I credit my mom for that text. It is everything she taught me that leads me to receiving a message like that from my own son.
I have six other kids that I love and adore as well. Three of them are my biological children and three of them are stepchildren. When you learn to love and give everything you have, you don’t care how a child has come into your life. It doesn’t matter if you gave birth to them, adopted them, or became a part of their life through marriage. You love them all with passion and grace and hope that someday they will do the same for their own children.
My youngest son, who is now 10 months old, is crawling everywhere and beginning to want to take his first assisted steps. He cautiously finds my hand or leg with each step and always looks back with a little bit of fear and a little bit of satisfaction. He knows I won’t let go right now but he should also know that someday I will have to let go in small ways and then in really big ways. He will learn that I will let him grow his wings and not stop him when he is ready to take off and fly.
This is the hard and heartbreaking work of a mom. It takes one generation after another of loving mothers to build a large family full of love, trust, loyalty, reliability, and laughter. Mother’s Day is a special day to recognize all of these women that have brought children into the world, adopted children, or helped raise children that aren’t their own. Some of you have already lost your own moms and know the pain of losing your mentor and best friend. I think that pain can only be comforted by looking at your own children and grandchildren and knowing that your mom played a role in their successes.
I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day today. Regardless of how you became a mom, the world is a better place because of you and the support you provide all of the children that call you Mom. If you are like me, your Mother’s Day will probably involve watching children or grandchildren play some type of sport and then hopefully you can get together as a family and celebrate the greatness of all of the moms that make up your incredible family.
Katie Coombs is the host of the radio show “Uncommon Sense with Katie Coombs.” You can reach her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UncommonSenseKC/.