I have a weakness. I drop the names of my children, slowing letting the quantity slip out the way movie stars might brag about the jewelry they keep locked in a safe, just to impress people.
I learned early from my Mother that conspicuous consumption, as fun as it might be to acquire, was something that was frowned on in the world. Best to keep that stuff hidden under your hat.
When my first child was born, I was certain he had broken the mold. While mothers everywhere say that their child is beautiful, my child was the most beautiful. But I never mentioned this to people as, of course that bordered on conspicuous consumption. Besides, you only had to take one look at him to know that he was. No point in stating the obvious.
More children spilled into my life. This increased my workload dramatically, and even my own Mother began to comment at how overwhelming the demands of my life were; and she began to shy away from popping over for visits. She asked me to stop asking her for advice because, “I have never had as many kids as you.”
Soon, my Mother, watching me, began to well with pride, as I continued to do something she had never attempted; raising more than two children at a time. When my fourth son was born, I had a particularly complicated delivery; one that put my life in the balance for a few precarious minutes. When I was finally wheeled out of the delivery room, with healthy baby, my Mom stood waiting with my older boys, eager to meet their new baby brother.
Instead of looking at the baby, my Mother looked at me, her eyes welled with tears, and she reached down to kiss me on the cheek. She whispered, “I am so proud of you.” I hadn’t even started to raise the little boy yet, and she was already sure I would do this child justice. She was in awe of feats I had yet to accomplish.
Now, when I drive by that hospital, and I remember that conversation, I am struck by the contrast of the moments we have shared behind those concrete walls together. Once, as a celebration of new life, and again, sharing her last breaths. Have you ever given thought at how a hospital, because of the events that transpire there, is such a sacred place? It is truly an awesome place.
Slowly, I have become aware that other people, once they learn I have four boys, are in awe of me too. Now, because it generates such a stunning reaction in people, and I enjoy it, I have been known to proudly release their names, one by one, as if I am a waitress running through the list of the chef’s specials at a five star restaurant. I am conspicuously proud of what I have. I suspect that these people think I am incapable of such hard work, and I am proud to have fooled them.
Without my Mother here, she does not marvel at how big my sons are today; nor does she share my laughs at the funny things they do and say; nor is she my sounding board at how overwhelming my job sometimes is. But I do have the memory of her kiss that night; her foresight of seeing me through days that still lie in front of me; work for which she was already proud.
Happy Mother’s Day Everyone.