Mothers, official and unofficial

A young friend of my niece and nephew asked me a while back “Why is (name he uses for my mother) so good?”

That stopped me in my tracks for a second. I said “Well, what do you mean? Because she’s smart and can do a lot of things and is so nice?”

He said “Yeah. Plus she can cook lots of food AND make blankets.”

(My mom does amazing things with yarn. I can’t crochet a chain.)

Well, he’s right. I was raised by a woman (and you, too, Dad — but today is not your day) who is not just incredibly well educated, but smart and knows how to use it — in fact, uses it to help other people; who is ridiculously talented; caring; strong and made the closest her generation could get to “having it all” look easy. And, perhaps most importantly, it is evident even to a little kid who sees her only on occasions like large holiday gatherings or birthdays that she is simply “good.”

A person does not leave worse for it, after a conversation with Mom.

Not that my sister and I didn’t test her, I’m sure. In fact, both of us –after many years finally understanding the toll all that looked easy must have taken — have wondered why she never made a peep. She would have been entitled to something much louder than a peep.

I wonder if she thought it would have discouraged us — if knowing how tough it could be might make us doubt our ability to try. She doesn’t do that. She doesn’t make people doubt themselves.

I’ll probably never know all the reasons, but I am grateful for the example she gave me.

And I think of her often when I hear stories of the growing number of kids here in the Mid-Ohio Valley and across Appalachia who must turn to someone else — a grandmother, aunt, family friend, teacher, school counselor or nurse — for that kind of example and support. God bless those women (and yes, I know, there are plenty of men, too).

Bless the teacher who spent time Friday making sure some of her students had backpacks full of enough food to get them, and maybe even some siblings, through the weekend; who is probably worried about how they will make it through the summer. Bless the grandmother or great-grandmother who is trying, still, to keep up with a four-year-old for more than just a visit on Saturdays. Bless the family friend who lets a youngster sleep over with her own kids, reads them stories and tucks them all in as though each was her own.

There is an army of women trying to be the good these kids need in their lives, as our region struggles not just with the substance abuse crisis, but with the economic challenges that continue to haunt us. All our kids need someone to show them how to hope, someone to show them the good. These women do that for them, and more.

Today may not be officially their day, but if you know one of them (and I know how many keep what they do to themselves), thank them today. They’ve earned it, too.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

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

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