You’ve grown up, now, all five of you. You are productive citizens pursuing life with fervor. You love God and your fellow man and you serve gratefully. You are both respectful and respected and are just plain good people.
But I need to know: Did I mother you well?
I know I rubbed your back four million times and did your hair and then backed off and watched you do your own when you were sure you could do it by-a-self. And I fed you Southern fried chicken and created KFC Bowls from scratch, made you sweet tea and homemade bread and baked all those cookie cakes for all those birthdays until peanut butter pie took over the favorite spot and then I made those. I planned themed birthday parties and hosted slumber parties of 15 with bodies draped all over the house at 5am, all but those pulling the all-nighter munching on homemade chocolate chip cookies and talking and playing games.
But did I mother you well?
Did I spend enough time just listening to you, sitting with you in the quiet space or doing something you wanted to do? Did I tell you enough times how much I love you?
I know I didn’t complain about football-sweat hugs or get too mad about you leaving your black leather batting glove in your white uniform pocket that ruined my favorite white shirt, and I cheered like a madwoman when you pitched the baseball through that piece of plywood and left a perfect baseball-sized hole clear through. I yelled, “See the ball and take it out!” and “You can do it!” and “Yes, that’s the way!” and “Oh, no you did not just blindside my baby!”, whispered calm and protection in the night and left a lullaby playing softly as I tiptoed out.
But was that enough?
I sat long at the ball practices and watched through every dance class for nine straight years and brought all that strange stuff backstage (just in case, because you never know when you might need an eighth-inch wooden dowel in a pinch). I took those photos–all those photos of every event and every ordinary moment I could capture because they are all extraordinary when you are mothering miracles.
Yes, I chased you down with homemade remedies that smelled awful but made you well by the next day. I teamed up with Daddy to guide you away from bad behavior and attitudes and had those long talks about hormones and all the crazy stuff that comes with growing up. I tried not to make you feel guilty for too much if I could help it, said sorry from my heart when I reacted or made a mistake or scolded too quickly.
I stayed home and made do and lived simply and taught you to love learning for its own sake. I did everything I could do to ignite a passion for life deep in your heart. I treated you like the unique person you are and didn’t compare you to anyone else. I loved celebrating how God wired you because I happen to think He did a splendid job and didn’t mind telling you so. I said you didn’t have to kiss me goodbye in front of your teen friends even though you did it anyway because you wanted to.
But did I mother you well, my children? Did I give you precious memories to hold onto, minimize life’s struggles even a little bit, help you believe you could do anything with God’s help and a good dose of gumption? Did I mother you well?
I ask because as the years fly by and you grow up and out and I see the collateral damage I and others in my generation carry on our backs I need to know I didn’t shift that onto yours. I need to know you carry a much lighter load into adulthood than I did, than my parents did, and theirs before them.
I need to know that I mothered you well because in all this life I can write and speak and paint and and produce but there is no art I could ever create as beautiful as you.