In honor of Mother's Day, it seems at least somewhat apropos to regale you all with a story I've told many times before, about the time Jen was grocery shopping, with whichever of our kids was the youngest at the time, in tow. Another woman, taking note of the exceptional cuteness of the baby (as women are wont to do, from time to time), approached her to chat - "Is he your first?" When Jen told her that, no indeed, he was the youngest of whatever large number was current at the time, the woman stepped back with a look of shocked horror. "How could you have so many?!?" she gasped. Jen smiled sweetly, leaned in conspiratorially, and whispered, "We REALLY like sex!" I love my wife. Who is also, by happy convergence, the mother of all eight of my children.
I've also said many times that reproducing ourselves together is simply the coolest, most amazing thing we've ever done. I'll beg your indulgence if I say, just one more time, that I am still blown away to look at my kids, and realize that each one of them is made of US - literally, they are made of Jen-stuff and me-stuff. Stevie Wonder's song, 'Isn't She Lovely?' has always resonated with me - "Isn't she lovely, made from love?" There is a line of 'Trinitarian' theological thought that says that the Holy Spirit is the Love between the Father and the Son - that the Love between the first two persons of the Holy Trinity is so concrete, so intense, so REAL, that it is a whole 'nother person in itself. And, in the spirit of the late pope's Theology of the Body, I wonder if that isn't yet another sense in which we are made in the Image of God - that the love between a husband and wife can issue forth in another person. Awesome.
When we were first married, after 1F was born, I was, sad to say, more than a little obtuse about the whole Mother's Day thing. (*sigh*) When Jen asked me what plans I had for observing the day, I said to her, "You're not my mother."
Before all my readers who are mothers grab their pitchforks and torches and come to burn my house down, can I say that I have come to deeply regret those words, and the thinking behind them (if such sentiments can even be said to rise to the level of 'thought')?
In our early years, it seemed that Mother's Day was often the occasion for some of the bitterest arguments between us; and I'm hard-pressed to even say why. But suffice it to say that, in the ensuing years, and as our family has grown, I've come to a richer appreciation of what it means that Jen is the Mother of My Children. And worthy of my honor (and much more) on that account. . .
And so I honor my wife, The Mother of My Children. There are all manner of schmaltzy cards out and about today, paying homage to the sacrifice of motherhood, and selfless love, and kindness, and nurturing and care, and myriad other ways in which our mothers have enriched our lives. But you know, it isn't just schmaltz - there is a deep human reality behind the schmaltz, to which the schmaltz is an attempted response. My life is richer because Jen is The Mother of My Children. I wouldn't be a father if she weren't a mother; and being a father is about the biggest and best and noblest thing I've ever done. And her Motherhood has taught me volumes about what my own Fatherhood means, and how it ought to be done. . . So thanks, Sweetheart. Happy Mother's Day.
I also recall, in the aftermath of my reunion with my birth-mother, a growing appreciation of Motherhood, and what it means. It was simply amazing to me to realize that she, at last, was the woman who, at whatever cost to herself, had given birth to me - at the most basic, earthy level (and you know how I love the earthiness), she was the woman between whose legs I entered the world. And I have come to a fundamental gratitude for that very basic fact. Whatever indiscretions may have given rise to my existence in the first place, it cost her something for me to be here today, with the life that I've had, and I honor her for that. And for so willingly becoming a part of our life, and our family, and welcoming us into hers. . .
And I recall, and honor my 'first mother', of blessed memory, who adopted me, and raised me for eight years. It was she who instilled in me a love of music.
And I honor my Mom (calling her my 'stepmother' has never seemed appropriate); it is not a trivial thing to me that, when she married my Dad, she stepped fairly smoothly into a large hole in my own life, and saw me into and through my teens and young manhood.
I also honor my Mother-in-Law, Jen's Mom. The happiness of my life today owes much to her having given birth to Jen, and raised her into the woman who has shared my life these past 30 years.
I honor my sisters, and Jen's. And the sundry hundreds of mothers I've known, among my friends, my friends' parents, my kids' friends' parents, readers of this blog, etc. There were a couple of women, mothers of my friends, who, in my teens, were sort-of 'surrogate mothers' to me, and who left their own imprint on my life, for which I am grateful.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you; each of you, in your own way, have touched my heart. . .