You pass her on the street and give her nary a glance.
That frail old woman, doddering and slow, walking along with a cane.
Poor thing, you think. And then you move on.
You go about your day, perhaps on to work; then to the grocery store for a few items, then on home to the family. Dinner awaits, after all, and you are head cook.
Because of this, your wonderful husband and lovely children are going to take you out for a well-deserved brunch in celebration of Mother's Day this Sunday. After all, you deserve it. You've loved, cared for, sacrificed and encouraged your kids like no other, and they appreciate you. You're a good mom.
Oh -- and remember that frail old woman that you passed in the street earlier? So is she.
That unremarkable wisp of a person has a remarkable story, for anyone who would care to listen, for she -- like you -- has done her share of scrimping, saving, sacrificing and soothing, and then some. She's not only done it for her kids, but for the kids of her kids and perhaps, even, yet another generation of little ones. Grandma, great-grandma, aunt, friend and sister -- she is all of these things and more.
She wiped the tears away from more than a few crying children before any of us were born. She raised a family, then stepped in to help raise her children's families as well. She was the nice neighbourhood mom whom all the kids loved. She was one of the more active members of her kid's school PTA. She did all of the mundane "mom" things that we all do, and did it probably more often than all of us. She knows the meaning of "mom" like no other.
Yet her contribution to motherhood is often forgotten in the bloom of youth. After all, moms, as many of us see them are younger, more vibrant, more alive. Ironic, really, because this mother, grandmother, great-grandmother -- well, she's lived alright. She's lived a thousand lifetimes of 4 a.m. feedings, dirty diapers, teen angst and college convocations. And remember -- she's done so for more than one generation of kids.
We often pass her by on the street; a natural reaction, after all. She's nondescript, elderly and often unnoticeable, but only because we've chosen not to notice. She doesn't stand out in the crowd so why should we look twice? It's human nature to overlook things that blend into our surroundings, this is true, but should this also be the case for people? She may not look like our idea of a "mom" but she is one, through and through.
What is it about our society and culture that embraces youth so desperately while at the same time, discards anything -- or anyone -- who has the slightest tinge of age? How can it be that a sage of a person who as the wisdom of time as well as the battle scars of service be tossed aside as we go about our daily lives, often so self-possessed and myopic about our own entitlement? Why do we not remember the love and sacrifices of the older generation of mothers who are often now long forgotten by not only society but worse -- their children and grandchildren?
As we walk down the street we are passing many moms, grandmothers, aunts and sisters, all of whom have played a vital role as a motherly figure in so many lives. That homeless woman with the shopping cart, the strange and cranky old lady across the street, that quirky "cat lady" colleague who's now mothering only felines -- they all have stories to tell, many of them involving their kids. If only we'd take the time to listen. This Mother's Day, let's remember all of the mothers who have contributed so much to our lives yet have so often become forgotten.
For they are mothers too.