?A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.?
Washington Irving (1783 ? 1859)
Irving’s quotation speaks to the timelessness of mothers and their impact on each of us. Only the stuffiness of the language hints at a time long past. The sentiment, however, is as true today as then.
Born youngest in a family of 11, Irving grew to become a famous American writer. According to biographer C.D. Merriman, he was born sickly and had ongoing health issues through much of his life. This background information illuminates the quotation. Our generation can only guess at the hardships endured in raising a family that size. Indeed, there may be a message there: if the eleventh child can so keenly love and appreciate his mother, how will we be rated by our one or two kids?
Are we, as mothers, our children’s truest friend who can bring peace back to their hearts? That certainly is the intention, if not always the result, for most of us. We know there are bad and inadequate mothers. There are also evil, destructive mothers. But most of us are simply humans doing the best we can. In some ways we’re only as good as the mothers we ourselves had.
At our best we offer help and guidance. We offer a port in a storm. We love unconditionally no matter the age of this offspring. We feed without ceasing. We swell with pride and applaud all the successes, from the first tentative steps to the unique marks our children leave on the world.
We cry (sometimes in private, sometimes openly) when they hurt. If we could, we would buffer them from every imaginable pain. We teach (and re-teach) those life skills we ourselves most value. If we’re wise we also know when to step back, stay silent, and pray.
Mothers hope?first, last, and always?for a healthy child whether he is a newborn or a 30 year old. Mothers want their child to thrive and strive and find her way to meaningful work, lasting love, and real happiness. Mothers want their children to grow strong and confident yet possess the softness and warmth our world so badly needs.
We want our kids to love and respect us. We want them to need us. We want them to share their triumphs and their fears. We need them to carry our legacy proudly even as they add their own value to it.
This Sunday take time to thank your mother for all that she is and all that she does. And if you are a mother, take time to consider the incredible blessing of that experience. Embrace it, from where I sit. (Thanks, Ma!)