I have a confession to make: I don't like children.
Let me rephrase: I don't like children I’m not related to or know in some capacity. The sound of a crying child in a grocery store sends me right to the Chilean wine section. If an angry child in a restaurant raises his voice one too many times, I want to dive under the table. And I can't even talk about kids in theaters.
But I was a child, too, once.
I've always believed that one of my mom’s greatest accomplishments is that she survived my upbringing without being whisked away to an institution. My sister and I gave it our best effort, but we were wholly outmatched. Mom could seldom be rattled.
In truth, I was a good kid, but I was no picnic. Observe: When I was too young to govern myself, I used to rip the wigs off mannequins, halt escalators (the little red button at the top was simply too tempting), and dive into coin fountains for midwinter swims—and that was just when she took me to the mall. For obvious reasons, it didn't happen often. Looking back, I realize that Mom never broke a sweat. Like all good mothers, she knew when to use restraint and when to reprimand.
It would be a shoddy world without our mothers. Regardless of our age, there’s something calming about their company. Hundreds of people breeze in and out of our lives. Good mothers—and good fathers, yes—are some of the few who leave those crucial chapters in our personal histories.
Life doesn't simplify with age. Even today, my life can be a messy, complicated exercise. Problems and stresses can be like a sea of toys scattered around a child’s bedroom. Growing up, I rarely felt the need to clean my room—and little has changed as an adult. Problems are everywhere. With this Mother's Day, I have an opportunity to simply say, “Thank you.” And, perhaps not so simply, “I’m sorry.”
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