I wrote a Mother’s Day poem for my Mom 27 years ago. Just weeks before graduating from high school. All the fighting and sneaking around and lying I had done. All the awards and trophies and certificates, too. So many things we had endured, loosely but inevitably connected.
I had chosen to go to college in Ohio, so I was facing being away from her for the first time. I guess this poem, my gift to her, was my way of showing her that I had begun to understand what she had done for me. What she had given up for me. Our bond, which would now be stretched across state lines.
I remember crying as I wrote it, one line in particular. I remember carefully writing the title in crayon, and smudging it with stuff to bring to mind the kindergarten creations of so many Mother’s Days past.
I laid it on her bed, always neatly made first thing in the morning. On her paisley pillow, not far from her Pall Mall golds, her ashtray and lighter, the plastic tray filled with her earrings. There was no fanfare. I just left it there.
I don’t remember her reaction to the poem. I’m sure she said thank you, but that may have been it. With all the flurry of activity around my graduation, I’m sure it just got lost in the shuffle.
Nearly a dozen Mother’s Days came and went before my Mother passed away. At that time, I was pregnant with my first natural-born child and a new Mom to two toddlers. I was exhausted and overwhelmed trying to clean out my parents’ 25-year-old home.
I was sifting through the basket of papers she kept right next to her bed. Underneath a few People magazines I found file folders with birth certificates, legal papers, these were important things…
then I saw the mauve paper peeking out. And I knew just what it was. My poem. Just next to some of the most important things in her life. My poem.
My mother was not the type to gush. I clearly got my sentimentality from my Dad. But seeing my poem in with all her most important papers was all I needed to know.
I nearly lost that paper a couple of times, but eventually I had it framed and it still hangs next to my bed, just like where my mother kept it. Some of it makes me chuckle now, the overinflated ideas and revelations of a too-big-thinking teenager. But a lot of it still holds true. I’ve shared a few lines from that poem below.
Hope you all are celebrating Mother’s Day in whatever way honors the women in your life the best. Take some time to write words to a woman who has meant something to you. Our words and our time are some of the most precious treasures we can share.
I am born of you
out of a painful love that has
already outlasted my lifetime.
You surround me with your
words and your listening silence
and your arms…
we are different stages of the same woman
who learn from each other like learning
from a separate self…
and that is why I say I am always with you – because
I am you
and happy to be, lucky to be
thankful to be
what is to be is something we don’t know but I can see that it will involve distance
and I wonder how I will make it –
but I know your love can cover the whole world in its maternal infinity
and your wide arms will tuck me in each night even long after I am gone.
I would not have this future without the past you’ve so unselfishly given and given.
Thank you for my life. I love you.
Mother’s Day, 1992