I often see those “My Mom is My Hero” stories floating around on social media, especially this time of year. My three teens used to bring home assignments from school with that sort of title on it years ago. Although they certainly still give me hugs and even homemade cards on occasion, they haven’t written anything like that lately. Especially after the way I hollered impatiently the other night and then overbaked the enchiladas.
But maybe, someday, they’ll write a story along those lines again.
Moms Should Think of Themselves as Heroes
A story about a mom who often failed, but in the trying:
- Remembered after bagging her groceries that she’d forgotten the facial cleanser one of them had asked for, so she went through the line again.
- Drove to Walgreens late at night with a jacket over her pajamas to buy throat lozenges and nasal strips.
- Woke up early to pack lunches, register for summer camps, plan out family vacations and college tours, put caramel rolls in the oven, hide Easter eggs, wrap Christmas gifts, hang up birthday streamers, transfer game jerseys to the drier, or look for the leggings we couldn’t find the night before.
- Made them take a few years of piano lessons and a summer of guitar to at least explore if it was something they’d enjoy, maybe return to later in life as a way to relax or simply feel more multi-dimensional.
- Kept as many of their poems, stories, and goopy art projects she could over the years in binders, plastic tubs, and decorative trunk boxes from a local craft store with plans to hand it all over to them one day. But not until they were ready to safeguard those treasures like she did.
- Sometimes leaned against a window or sat in a parked car, wishing she would’ve handled things a little better, phrased things a little differently.
- Cheered from hundreds of sidelines and bleachers and claustrophobic crowds in the heat, cold, pelting rain, always with an extra water bottle in her purse in case they ever ran out.
- Said dozens of prayers while they were at tryouts, at the DMV taking their driver’s test, out with friends, or starting a new school year.
- Ached twenty times deeper than they ached when one got excluded by peers or bombed an opportunity to win the game. And nearly burst from the inside out with joy when they did get included or make the game-ending basket, goal, block, assist, or base hit.
- Came home and unloaded the dishwasher, made dinner, got caught up on laundry, and unclogged a drain after spending the day at her own parents’ house unloading their dishwasher, stocking the fridge with meals, catching up on laundry, and usually fixing something that wasn’t working there, too.
- Reminded them to say prayers and please and thank you and to open doors and be kind—all because she wanted nothing more than for them to grow up with strong character.
- Reminded them to put away clothes, rinse dishes, mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, rake leaves, and apply for summer jobs—all because she wanted nothing more than for them to grow up with initiative and strong work ethic.
- Encouraged them to invite classmates over or text so-and-so back because she wanted nothing more than for them to build and value friendships.
- Disappeared at times to her writing desk or bedroom, or for walks, meetings, interviews, appointments, girls-night-out, and quick trips to the corner gas station for a pack of peanut M&M’s because, well, there were many more layers to her than being their mom.
Someday maybe they’ll write that their mom busted her butt to do the best she could, the only way she knew how. Not because she thought of herself as a hero or wanted a story written about her but because being the mother of three remarkable humans was and always will be the greatest honor of her life, and she didn’t want to blow it.
Julie Jo Severson is a mom to three teens, freelance writer, and co-author of Here In The Middle: Stories of Love, Loss, and Connection from the Ones Sandwiched in Between. Her storytelling blog at www.carvingsonadesk.com is where she reconnects with her own voice swirling around in the middle.