Thursday, April 16, 2009

One word

This post was inspired by Scribbit's April Write-Away Contest.

There is one word that is always appropriate. This word is there no matter what the circumstance. Joy and pain. Trials and triumphs. Ups and downs. Sickness and health. Obstacles and open roads. Wonder and boredom. Love and annoyance. Hopefully more love. As unbelievable as it may sound, this one word can bring incredible comfort and total terror all in the same utterance.
The word can be whispered or belted. Shrieked or endeared. It has a version in every language known to mankind and is often the first word mastered by a developing infant. I am pretty sure that there are even distinct animal noises used for its meaning. I swear sometimes I can hear our family cat meow it out when she wants to get in or out of the house.

This one word can be enunciated with many different dialects even by the same child. It has endless amounts of pronunciations....the one syllable miraculously changes in tone, depending on the circumstance.

You hear it at the grocery store from a wandering child. The tone a little frightened but loud and strong, "Mom?!" Sometimes you go searching for a lost one, even though you know that none of yours are there. Some of yours may be lost, so, you just can't help but make sure that the one calling out is not.

What about the eulogy so powerful it brought the room to tears...."most of all, she is my mom, and always will be, and to me nothing else is more important about her."

The teenager tends to irreverence the name the most, "Just ignore her; pretend she's not my mom."

I even heard a police officer once tell a classroom full of children: "If you are ever in trouble, get safe as fast as possible. If someone is hurting you, tell a teacher, or a police officer, or find a mom with kids as fast as you can."

Perhaps the sweetest utterances of the one all powerful word are the ones from little children. They seem to use the word more than anyone. The word seems to work in all circumstances for all of their needs. Let me give you a few examples from my own experience.

"Mom, I didn't get elected for student council. Mom...." followed by incoherent sobs.

"MOM!!!! Her hair, it's tangled up in the rope swing.....Hurry mom."

"Guess what, mom?"

"Mom, I think there is chocolate in the carpet, or maybe it's poop?"

"Mom, it hurts so bad."

"Mom, are you coming on my field trip?"

"Mom, don't forget your camera."

"Mom, I need a band-aid."

"Mom, she's bugging me again."

"Mom, will you read me a story?"

"Mom, will you please stop taking pictures!?"

"Mom, I don't want to go to the hospital."

"Mom, I drew you a picture....look, the big one is you, and the little one is me."

"Mom, I had a bad dream."

"Make her stop, mom."

"Mom, I don't want to set the table."

"Mom, I'm hungry."

"Mom, I'm bored."

"Mom, I can't find my shoes."

"Mom, can we go to the movies?"

"Mom, where is my library book?"

"Mom, when is dad coming home?"

"Mom's what for dinner?"

"Mom, can you check my homework?"

"Mom, can you help me clean my room?"

"Mom, I am sick of spelling."

"No, mom, I am not tired."...followed by sobbing, slight nodding, and the sweet sound of heavy breathing.

Every utterance of the word seems to carry a different emotion and a different intonation. The whole spectrum is in there. It's as if, just by simply adding "mom", magic will be inevitable. Mom can make everything o.k. Mom can motivate. Mom can comfort. Mom can fix. Mom knows all. Mom is almost omnipotent. Mom is totally versatile, even when she doesn't budge. Mom can tell you what you need to hear, even when she is a push over.

Sometimes when the word mom is added to a sentence it completely brightens one's existence.

"Mom, you are the best mom in the whole wide world."

"Mom, you are beautiful."

"Mom, I love you."

Or one of the best ever:

"When I grow up, I want to be a mom, just like you."

There are many moments in many days when a mother cannot think of anything better to be called than simply mom. You can give her awards or accolades or certificates or trophies, but nothing outdoes this simple statement of pure admiration, "I want to be a mom", followed with, "just like you." No nickname, no term of endearment, not even a kiss from the man you love can make you feel as good as that kid that wants to be just like you. There is no higher compliment.

Of course there are times when we use the word in reference to someone other than our own. I recently heard this from a friend.

"I always wished my mom was more like yours."

It's funny because I always wanted my mom to be more like Melanie's. Man! Toast and hot chocolate never tasted so good. My mom was not a morning person, and Melanie's mom fed me breakfast almost every morning of junior high school. Why? Because she was a mom. And I had the privilege of watching her answer to every one of Melanie's "moms" while simultaneously filling my empty stomach as I waited for Melanie, my walking partner.

Now I find my kids using the psychological tactic on me, "Mom, why can't you be more like so and so's mom?" I return with the oldy but goodie: "Because her mom doesn't love her as much as I love you, that's why. No mom should let their child roam the neighborhood like that."

As a mom, there is one thing you realize more than anything: moms aren't perfect. Even if our name carries a need for perfection, all moms screw up. This mom is no different. It'll be o.k. if my daughters grow up wishing that I was different. Heck, I wish I was different too. They can admire those other moms, and they can even want to be like them when they grow up. It doesn't diminish the joy that I have in being their mom.

Some days I try to be like Melanie's mom. I especially have to remember that best tasting toast and hot chocolate every morning when I drag this non-morning mother out of bed. But, most days, I shock myself, because I find myself being a mom that frighteningly resembles my own. I am sure that I say things from time to time that my kids don't want to hear, striking them with fear. I know my mom isn't going to tell me what I want to hear most of the time, but who is it that I call when I really need advice?

"Mom, what do you think about...."

"Thanks mom, I feel so much better now."

When my children hear mom, I am sure they mostly think of me. Sometimes I am sure they will say the one word with terror.

"Mom, I spilled the whole gallon of milk again."

I know that they will also say the word with admiration. Hopefully more often than with terror.

"Mom, you are so good at cleaning."

I just pray that when they grow up, no matter whose mom they take after, they will realize that this mom is the one that loved them the most. Hopefully that one word, mom, will mostly bring them comfort. And nothing makes me feel better, except for maybe a compliment from my mom. Especially when it's:

"Oh Alice, you are such a great mom."


Lindsey Rose said...

You Are an unbelievable writer, this made me cry!

Lindsey Rose said...

And yes you are a great mom!

Renee said...

This is so good, Alice.

Alice Faye said...

When I was 20 or 21 years old and living 2000 miles away from my Mom, I woke up sick one night and had to make a quick run to the bathroom as all my previous nights dinner was dislodged. Guess what I yelled out? MOM!!! My roommate came to my resuce (as if I needed it at age 20 or so) but I thought it ironic that the first person my sub-concious turned to was "Mom."

Every Mom wants her kids to be a better parent than she is. That is my greatest desire for my kids. Meantime, I love being called "Mom."

MiaKatia said...

So beautiful!!! I love it.

cally said...

So good, Ali.

Sarah said...

Great blog entry Alice! I loved going down the list of what the kids say. Can I add Kelsey's newest one..."Mom, I like you alot." Then she giggles.

♥ Somebody Loved ♥ said...


This is awesome.

I am very impressed. I tried to start reading it this morning... I had many interruptions and then no access to the computer/internet til now.

You did such a great job writing down all of those things that so many of us think.

I also wanted to mention... I grew up on the best toast and hot cocoa. Thank heavens for my Mother.

Thanks a bunch for sharing.

Love ya friend.


Scribbit said...

I'm really hoping my children have selective memories so that when they get to be adults they can tell me I did a good job. As long as they forget my mistakes.

Klin said...

My favorite job, my favorite name, my favorite person = mom.

I will admit that when I am sick I have been married long enough that I want my hubby. He knows just what I need.

Rita said...

Beautifully written -- as always. You ARE a great mom -- and I just love this post.

What an awesome, incredible, terrifying job being a mom is -- so many expectations, so much joy. And I too, have to admit -- I'm nearly 40 and there are still times I want only my mom.

RedefinedPossibilities said...

A great Mother's Day tribute to any and all MOMS.


One Happy Family said...

WOW! What an inspiring, beautifully written post. You are an awesome mom! That's one of the things I've always thought about you. More people would love to be more like you than you probably realize.

Angela said...

I often think of Melanie's mom too. I remember her re-painting their baseboards - I'd be happy if I even dusted mine.

But I also remember the last time I saw you. You had just had a baby and you were in the messy process of moving across the country but you took the time to visit with me. You left me in awe.

Katina Angola said...

This was so good!

Marla said...

Seriously, this hormonal girl shouldn't have read that. That was perfect and now I'm crying. I hope that I'm a good mom.

Babystepper said...

And I'm sure you are a great mom! It does make us feel wonderful to hear it from the special mom in our own lives.

Antique Mommy said...

So. True. Sometimes "Mom" is the sweetest word ever and sometimes it makes me want to hide in a closet. When I hear it in the grocery store, I whip my head around to look for my child even though he's in school and not even with me. Excellent post!