What does it mean to be a mom?

When I was a little girl being a mom most often meant staying home and caring for the children, husband and house. Oh, the multiple duties I witnessed my mother taking on: cooking, cleaning, washing, caregiving, church responsibilities, PTA, homeroom mother, wife and mother. The roles she played seemed endless. What I don’t remember is her ever doing anything for herself. Well, maybe one weekly appointment at the hairdresser. In my teen years, I began to ask, “When do you rest mom?” Her answer was always the same, “Oh someday I will be alone when you are all grown and all I will have is time to rest.”

How did she do all that she did?

Later, in my early twenties, I tried to replicate what I witnessed my mother doing with such ease. But it was hard! Of course, times had changed and most families needed two incomes, so like many moms of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, I went to work. My success at doing work and trying to be a good mother often ended in clean laundry staying in a basket for weeks. Oh, somehow after work I could manage to get it washed and most times even dried but putting it away seemed to be a challenge. No PTA mom here, but I did my best to make soccer games and school plays. Too many times dinner was Hamburger Helper or quick casseroles. My three sons survived but as I grew older, I began to regret things. Did I read enough books to my sons? I’m sure the answer is no. Did I help with homework cheerfully when I came home exhausted? Probably not often enough. But alas, those days are long ago and I will have to accept that it’s too late for regrets.

Celebration of Life

Then recently, I attended a celebration of life for a beautiful woman that meant the world to me. Her two sons decided to do her eulogy. I still can’t understand the ability to do so as I sat tearing up just looking at her beautiful photo on the church stage. I took a deep breath and began to listen to her sons. Each of her boys told who their mother was in the most beautiful and loving way. She was always there for them, she was always their cheerleader, win or lose. When they made choices in life that might have been difficult to accept, she stood strong beside them. If others hurt them, she was there to hold and love them and help the pain go away. She was a light in their life, she was faithful in her support and love.

Her sons spoke of the people she met and how she became a light to them as well. All along she was in a battle for her life but she always asked her friends how they were and reminded them she was there for them. Family and friends remarked over and over how full of life, love and joy she was. Once again, it was described as a light. Her light was so bright it will never dim.


Sitting and reflecting on the beautiful tribute, I realized, not one word was said about having not read enough books or cooked enough special meals. She had a career and worked while raising her sons but there was no mention of her not being there.  It was a good reminder to me that we need to focus more on what we give in support — not just the things we do. 

In the end, her sons did not mention a word on the challenges of a working mom. No one minded the laundry in the basket or the quick fix meals. It was all about her being their light, always in their corner — good or bad. Demonstrating the kindness to all around her, even to strangers, was the light they recalled. So, young moms, working or stay at home, I hope you know your children just want their mom. Don’t sweat the things you can’t find time for, just make the most of the moments you have. Let your light shine. That is what will be remembered. 

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