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A Mother’s Love

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I can’t describe a mother’s love. It would be like describing a song to a deaf person—or the perfect red to someone who’s color blind. A mother’s love, it exists only in a dimension understood once you enter it.

A mother’s love is uprooting her life from one side of the world and moving to another. A mother’s love is carrying a potty through Italian immigration so you wouldn’t have to use a public toilet. A mother’s love is putting you in front of the mirror to show you how beautiful you are. A mother’s love is a plastic bag in her purse because you throw up whenever you get nervous. A mother’s love is walking you down the aisle with the man who found a younger replacement. A mother’s love is calling you back after you hang up on her. A mother’s love is being sorry and being ashamed, because she didn’t live up to her own expectations. A mother’s love is—I’ll hold your hand no matter how cold.

A mother’s love is unconditional. It is loving your right arm, your heart, your brain.

She loved me before she even knew me and—and long after she knew me too well. She loved me completely—even when she might not have liked me very much.

I know sometimes I can be a mean bitch. I can be insensitive. I can be hurtful. I am this way because I have developed a wall from which I can stand and yell out but don’t always want to hear in; I may have had expectations of you—but I had never expressed them—and that wasn’t fair.

I have never doubted your love, but I’m certain you may have doubted mine. I wonder if you think I’m grateful for you. I am—very much so.

I think we both think things could be better. I think we both wish it were different—sometimes. I want a fairytale—and you want it for me—we just sometimes draw different pictures of the happily ever after.

You see me as the little girl, cheeks exploding from under the kerchief you wrapped around my face. The girl who was born with enough hair for ribbons—with the big brown eyes. You see those same eyes gazing at you and remember me just tall enough to tug on the bottom of your skirt. I repeated your Russian slang then and I continue to use it now.

How much of yourself do you see in me? How much of you do I not want to see in me? Daughters don’t want to sound like their mothers, but instinct dictates differently. We all have the mother’s bark. A love you understand when you become a mother yourself.

Seven years ago I entered motherhood. I stare in disbelief at the boy I’ve created. A line extended, the earth a little stirred—biology I exploited all by myself.

Being a mother is a tremendous responsibility—to him—to the world. To give him the foundation for confidence, courage, respect, happiness. Arm him with some sort of emotional and coping building blocks to take on the world head on and carve a strong and happy life for himself. I want for my child what any mother wants—a healthy laugh, a smile, eternal love.

On Mother’s Day, I don’t expect to be thanked. In fact, I use the day to remember what a privilege it is to be a mother. I am lucky to be able to look at my son and be filled with pride—in him and me.

But how do you thank the person without whom you wouldn’t be? How do you thank someone for air and breath and lungs and life? How do you thank someone for sleepless nights, for a lifetime of worry, for painful compromises, for never being first, for feeling the hurt every time you fall? How do you thank a person whose heart aches for you long after yours has skipped a beat?

A mother’s love …

There is no title so powerful, so important, so impactful, so innate—as mama.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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