The no sleep night

During quarantine, Mother’s Day looked rather glum until I read my daughter’s Facebook posting. I well remember this test of motherhood on a sleepless night with my youngest child.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. Probably the most accurate depiction of the type of mother she is happened when I was a Freshman in college. It was finals week of my spring semester 2000. I was worn out and ready to come home. I had researched for my Comp 2 paper, but I could NOT get words on the page.

I called my mom at 1:30 a.m., crying hysterically. “Mom, this five page paper is due at 9 a.m. I’m never going to get it done. If I don’t turn it in, I’m going to get a ‘C’ in the class.?” She calmly advised, “Start typing. Get the intro. Just start on it. You can type fast. Call me back in 30 minutes, and tell me about your progress.” So I typed through bleary eyes but with a renewed sense of purpose. I didn’t want to disappoint my mother, who is a writer.

At 2 a.m. I called and reported, “I have almost a whole page!” She said, “Great. Keep going. See if you can get to the beginning of page three. Call me in 30 minutes.” I didn’t get all the way to page three, but I called her anyway at 2:30 a.m. The carrot of achievement was JUST out of reach, but I knew I could do it. She was cheering me on 4 hours away, phone in her hand, probably fully awake by now. That went on all night. I would call with a progress report all morning until I had a finished paper. I had a friend help me edit quickly at 8 a.m., and I turned it in by 9 a.m. I didn’t get an “A,” but I got a “B+”… pretty good considering my VERY late start on that essay!

At the time, I went on with my day, and sort of forgot that my mom stayed up all night with me. I told the ridiculous story of how I had stayed up all night to write that paper and still managed to get an “A” in the class. When I look back at that event 20 years ago, I know my mom is the real protagonist: the one who swooped in to save the girl who was stuck, doomed even. My mom was fine with my remembrance of that story. She didn’t correct me. She didn’t need a “thank you” or a huge “shout out.” She was just glad I called her. Her delight is to serve behind the scenes.

This is my mom. She is humble. We are polar opposites, but I STILL want to be her when I grow up. She gave me a strong voice by allowing me to speak freely. She gave me confidence by never/rarely warning me of the “what ifs.” Her attitude was, “of course you can do anything you set your mind to. Keep at it.” She never makes me feel guilty for my failures; she just shrugs and changes the subject after my verbose confessions or sneaky misdeeds. She taught me forgiveness as I watched her learn how to extend forgiveness toward people who had committed heinous acts. She never views anyone as a “throw away person.” If I ask for help, she gives freely, but she rarely insists I do things her way. She waits patiently and is always available.

Mom, I could go on. I won’t. I know you prefer succinctness over rambling thoughts any day. I love you. Happy mother’s day.