Friday, January 22, 2010

Simply Mom

I was in a mood today and really needed some alone time. So I decided to bypass our street on my way home, and I took a scenic detour so I could collect my thoughts and detox a bit.

About 10 miles from our house is one of the few historic covered bridges in Ohio. It sits along Stone Creek, and just up the creek from a beautiful old Catholic Church - St. Philumena. It's a historic landmark in the county, and it's said to be haunted.

The air was cool and damp this evening - matching my mood - but I decided to get out of the car and stroll over to the cemetery that sits on a steep hill next to the church. I expected the grave stones to be old and crumbling, but to my surprise, there were many modern stones mixed in among the well cared for historic markers. Some ornate - lavish even - but some I noticed were plain, with words noting only that person's role was in life: "Sister of Charlotte." "Brother of Barbara." But even these stones were larger - a foot high, 2 feet across. Then my foot slipped on what I thought was wet grass, and I looked down to see. I was standing on this tiny grave marker - maybe 8-9 inches across. And I quickly sucked in my breath.

My reaction was one of sadness. I wondered who would ever mark their mother's grave with this little and insignificant piece of rock? But then - when I bent down to look at it and take a quick snapshot, I thought it was beautiful. Simple. Peaceful. "Mom."

I've been struggling lately with my own role as a mom - a working mom - and feelings of inadequacy - am I doing everything I can to provide my son with the things he will need to be a sensitive and caring human being? A good man? A good father? I fear the worst - that I need to keep improving, get him a better education, better things, access to sports and gadgets. Even though I know these won't make him a better person, I fool myself into comparing myself to what others are doing. And I'll be honest - I want to measure up, and sometimes it hurts that I can't do what some other moms do - financially, emotionally - sometimes I feel like I am out of my league.

But maybe it's much simpler than I am making it. When I pass away, what will I want my grave stone to say about me? Do I want it to tout my achievements, my roles, my loves, my beliefs, or even the educational choices I made for my son?

I know that if I had to pick one word, unpretentious, yet filled with the greatest achievement I could ever dream, what better word could I choose than this: Mom. All those other things don't matter. When I die, the thing I would be most honored for my son to say about me is, "She was my Mom."

And let's be honest - there's a distinction between "Mom" and "Mother." Anyone can be a mother, but not everyone can be a Mom. Sure, nature says I'm made for birthin' babies. But nurture says - hey lady, you need to make some improvements! So I'm going to keep this little snapshot of the "Mom" grave stone; it's simple and beautiful, and it will remind me that there are things in life that I need to teach my son, not just give him. My son doesn't need "things" as much as he needs his Mom.

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless


Maribeth said...

Amen to all of that. I don't know your son, but I see your posts about him and he seems like an intelligent and loving (albeit quirky in the way that age is - they say the darndest things!) little guy. It seems like you're doing a lot right (minus the early morning workouts for you and the non caffeine kick you did) and you really shouldn't worry about the other stuff. It all works out. What he needs is a happy, well-balanced mom, and that is what I see when I read your stuff.

Today, my day worked out and I did it all. I've also had to fly on a business trip on the eve of my son's first birthday and I have a son that draws pictures for me "to put in my bag for my next long trip away"... In the end, we make the choices we do and I am happy with them. Happy mom, happy husband. Happy couple, happy kids. see? All works out.

I do really like that grave marker. It almost seems like you were drawn to it... and who knows how many other mom

Maribeth said...

(ugh, cut me off)

...and who knows how many other moms stumbled across it... Beautiful and poetic.

Mary Jo McClain said...

ya - I thought it was really odd that I stumbled on it. considering my mood and all. I've been meaning to stop at the church for literally years. I visit the covered bridge often, but I always bypass the church - and it's not even 500 yards away!!