Celebrating your mother

Just last week, my mother and I were talking on the phone (call your mothers, people) when she said, referring to me and my sister, “I know you two aren’t kids anymore, and there’s no good in talking to you like you are …” and then proceeded to spend about an hour dispensing the same advice, worries, concerns … mothering … she’s been handing out since I was old enough for such talk.

She can’t help it. I think probably most mothers can’t.

Particularly if you have a mother like mine — taking care of everyone, doing it all, making the rest of us look bad — sometimes I think it’s almost an insult to them to suggest they try to turn off that instinct. It’s what they do.

And, at least in my mom’s case, her “kids” are many more than just the two people to whom she gave birth. If you have been part of my mother’s life for more than a moment, she will look out for you. When I was in high school, my friends would jokingly call her the band mother. Not “a” band mother. “The” band mother. She carried around a bag that might have been bigger than she was, full of everything a teenager on a day-long bus trip to a competition or away football game could possibly need. It was eerie how she could predict what might be required.

My sister was four years behind me in school. My mom did that for eight years worth of high school kids …

To this day, some of those people — most of them with kids of their own — seek out my mom for advice or just to talk. I’ll see them out somewhere, and their first question isn’t “How are you?” it’s “How’s your mom?” And I’m OK with that.

She performed all these miracles while pursuing her own extensive education, spending decades teaching others, keeping a family very solidly together — and always, always working to turn us into the best adults she (and my dad — I’m only leaving him out because it’s Mother’s Day) could.

I’ve read somewhere that women often do not stop feeling like “kids” until their own mothers are gone. I think in that case it’s the loss of knowing there is someone constantly looking out for you; a role model; someone to ask, “Mom, how do I (fill in the blank)?”

And I do remember a slight change in my mother when Gran died. But it was more one of knowing the “watching out for” was happening from a different location; and the advice-seeking came in the form of remembering her example rather than being able to ask directly. Mom and I both will occasionally be stuck for solutions and find ourselves asking “How would Gran have handled it?”

There are not many situations in which that line of thinking does not point us in the right direction.

So today, we are all still “kids,” and even “grandkids” whether the women for whom we are grateful are still here or watching out for us from above. If you are fortunate enough to be able to call — or better yet, visit — some of those women today, do it. And indulge them a little, if they start talking to you as though you are just a kid. They’ve earned it.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com