I am my children’s safe space and their constant comfort
Earlier this week, I accompanied my fourth-grade son, Waylan, on an all-day field trip. It was a wonderful day, but I will be honest, it completely wore me out. When the bus pulled into the school parking lot at nearly 8 pm, several dads were waiting to pick up their children. One dad, in particular, was standing in direct line of the bus exit. When his little girl emerged from the bus, she ran straight into her waiting father’s arms, giving him a bear-hug. It was adorable.
Dads are often the heroes in their children’s lives. Dads fix things. They are strong, tough, all-knowing and usually have really cool jobs that equate to super-hero status in the eyes of a young child. I have, at times, felt stuck in the dark shadows of my own two sons’ father. There is a certain level of awe, an undefined respect that their dad automatically gets. Mom does not.
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One of my favorite sitcoms growing up was “Who’s the Boss?.” I watched the show religiously at 6:30 pm every weekday evening. I was in love with Tony Micelli, the Italian housekeeper that religiously worked out in his employer’s garage (and it showed!). I thought Angela, an advertisement executive with a mind for business and very little time for domestic affairs, was quite chic and awkwardly endearing.
In one particular episode, Angela’s ex-husband got re-married. He wanted their son Jonathan, to be in the wedding. Despite years of not seeing his only son, he decided his new life was one in which he wanted to be a full-time father. Angela, a single mother who had raised her son with the help of her own mother and male housekeeper, was devastated. How could she compete with the fun-loving, adventure-seeking father that had captured young Jonathan’s attention? She couldn’t. So, she heartbreakingly stepped aside to allow her only son a chance to make up for lost time with his father. Jonathan was so nervous about the wedding. He worked himself up so much that he threw up all over the bride’s perfectly porcelain satin shoes. He was humiliated. The bride was upset. His dad yelled at him in a moment of frustration.
In that moment, all young Jonathan wanted was his mother. While she wasn’t as adventurous and didn’t have near as opulent a career as his dad, his mother had one thing no one could compete with. She was her son’s comfort. Despite her own hurting heart, she nurtured, comforted and encouraged her son to face his fears and go through with his part in the wedding. She gently led him from despair through self-repair while she secretly hid her tears, and watched from the sidelines.
When I think of that episode of my favorite sitcom, I think of my own life as a single mother. I have not always been able to offer my sons the frequent vacations, exciting adventures, out-of-the-ordinary experiences or professional words of wisdom that they have no doubt received from their dad. But what I can offer is a constant comfort when their world feels fearful, a loving caretaker in times of sickness, a tender place to land when they take inevitably humble falls in life and a heart that loves them with every fiber of my being. That is enough.
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Dads may be the everyday heroes in life. But moms. Moms are the quintessential workers that show up every day. Their contributions may not be as flashy or exciting, but they are their children’s safest space. A soft place to land, a warm lap of comfort, arms always open for a hug and ears always ready to listen.
I hope we can all take time to honor the special mothers in our lives. Those in heaven, those in the next room, those that are struggling and those that seem to have it all figured out. New moms, not-yet moms, adoptive moms, moms of one, two or a whole gaggle of little ones. Moms of all shapes and sizes, out there in the world slugging it out to financially care for their families and tirelessly working at home to provide the very best upbringing for their children. No matter what their lot in life, mothers are one of a child’s most beloved treasures, their version of all-encompassing love is undoubtedly unmatched in this world.
I am so thankful to be a mother to my two sons. I may not be a superstar or even a hero in their eyes, but I know they will never doubt my intense love and loyal devotion. Being their safe space, biggest cheerleader, fearless protector and complete comfort, those are the greatest roles I can imagine. I wear each hat proudly. No one can ever compete with the love a mother has for her child. A quiet, gentle, nurturing love. A love that knows no bounds and a lifelong passion that only increases with each passing day.