What is a mother’s love?
All of us will agree that a mother’s love is many things put together – her selfless sacrifice to endure physical pain and discomfort from pregnancy to birth; her hard work as a provider and caregiver to her biological or adopted children; her compassion and patience; her putting the children and her family’s welfare and well-being first ahead of her own – these and more, for sure.
When we talk about mother’s love, we gravitate towards the moments, instances, or experiences where love is evident, when you can feel how much your mother loves you through her words and actions.
But what about during those moments with our mother when we don’t feel loved, when we argue with her, when she scolds us, and when we are hostile to one another? Many of us will agree that we rarely associate moments like these to mother’s love.
This is how I remember my mother in my youth:
When I need help, she would argue with me and insist it was my fault I was in this mess.
When I am frustrated, she will not coddle me.
When I was angry, she was forceful.
When I was at my worst, she fought me.
Today, as I think about what to write about my mother for Mother’s Day, I realized that a mother’s love is complex, and children often overlook things. A mother’s love manifests not just in the moments the child is felt genuinely loved – hugs and kisses, home-cooked meals and sweet treats, snuggles and laughter.
To have a more profound appreciation of a mother’s love, one needs to be able to sense the presence of a mother’s love during the times we clash with our mother, during moments we are overcome with anger, loathing, and frustration. Only then can we truly understand this facet of a mother’s love and how in motherhood she embraces the tasks to fulfill her devotion.
Often, we see the love that is easy to see but fail to see the love that is made firm with wisdom, a love that perseveres and hopes during times when loving is the most difficult thing to do, but not for a mother.
Today, this is how I remember my mother:
When I need help, she would argue with me and insist it was my fault I was in this mess, for me to learn accountability and not grow up blaming others and the world.
When I am frustrated, she will not coddle me, because she wants to give me space.
When I was angry, she was forceful, not to be cruel but to be the mother who raises a son who is not quick to anger.
When I was at my worst, she fought me, not to antagonize me, but to make me realize I can be better.
And when I was out there on the streets, prideful but penniless, lost, and feeling unloved, she wrote me letters asking me to come home (which I will share in a separate blog).
Love letters – the very essence of it. Every word was meant to remind me that I am always loved – in good times, in difficult times, and most importantly, in bad times.
The most important manifestation of a mother’s love is when it does not feel like mother’s love, especially in the immature mind of an adolescent son lacking the ability to perceive and appreciate a mother’s emotional range and depth and her most important calling that requires difficult, painful choices: become the mother who raises a son who will become a caring husband and a responsible father.
So today, my pledge to my mother – and to the mother of my child – is this: I will always give my best to be the person my mother believed I can become.
This is how I will celebrate your life of labor and sacrifice all because you want to be the best mother for me, my sister, and my brother.
Happy Mother’s Day. I love you, Ma!
6 May 2019