by Mary E. Kendig

Mothers aren’t perfect — not by far.
Some can be stern and uncaring — even “unpresent,” while some are so loving they smother you
until you can’t breathe,
Or praise you until you start to believe you’re completely and utterly perfect in every way,
like she says you are.

I like the kind of mother who’s a realist.
One who loves you not by saying so 700 million times throughout the course of your life.
Not by hanging on you and spoiling you and being sappy and smarmy or throwing cash and gifts at you in exchange for your love, but rather by showing her affection through her simple daily actions.

I’m not talking about over-the-top displays.
I’m talking about showing love in everyday ways.
By having a basic, logical presence of mind, a practical approach, a caring heart — and a knack for being there and knowing the right thing to do.
By making you chicken soup when you’re sick or Ovaltine when you need some comfort,
even though you didn’t ask for it.
Or by running top speed to get the bucket when you need to throw up.
Or by mending a scraped elbow, or a broken heart with words of wisdom and healing.
Or even by telling you to buck up, stop whining, and get on with it.

I’m technically an only child, but my mother didn’t spoil me.
Oh sure, she let me have the dolls and the crayons and the Etch-a-Sketch and the bike and such,
but she and my dad taught me that I had to earn those things,
just like they had to work hard to pay for them.
And wow, did mom work hard.
From sweatshops to housecleaning for a local judge, she was a true “Saturday’s child,” always working hard for a living.

Mom was fair and just. Basically shy, her ire came out when she sensed that people weren’t on the level.
And she used to tell them so, in her best broken English if they didn’t speak Italian.
(But you should have heard it in Italian!)
And she was consistent:
Shopping for groceries every Wednesday,
Watching wrestling (yes, wrestling) on TV every Friday,
Doing chores in the morning and making ravioli for dinner every Saturday,
Attending church every Sunday — or else.
Oh, and she loved soup — soup of all kinds. She had soup for lunch every day.
She wasn’t superwoman, had only a fifth-grade education, wasn’t really elegant or a snazzy dresser — no, not “perfect,” but my perfect kind of mom.

Being my mother’s child, I’m not perfect, either — far from it.
But as mom got older and I found myself taking on her motherly role in caring for her as she aged,
I thought “I’m going to try to do this like she did.”
I didn’t have much experience at it, and it certainly wasn’t perfect —
but it was real, genuine, caring — and consistent.

Let’s face it: Life isn’t perfect either.
It’s messy. It’s sweet, it’s sticky, it’s happy and optimistic, it’s lonely and depressed, it’s hopeful,
it’s tough — it’s real.
Like my mom.
She was the most perfect specimen of what is genuine, and true, and honest, that I’ve ever known.
And I think nobody can do it better than she did.

So here, then, is my wish for all of you:
That you honor your mother while you have her.
That you always do your best for her.
That you have no regrets concerning your relationship with her.
That you keep her near to you, forever, in your mind and in your heart.
And that your love for her, no matter how imperfect you or she may be, is nothing short of perfect
in its sincerity and substance — in its ability to transcend and endure, even years after she has departed from your physical presence.


Category: Poetry, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student