Originally printed in the Greenwood Daily Journal ; May 5, 2011
When I was growing up, I never envisioned that I would someday become a mother myself. Married, yes, but I never gave having children much thought.
It wasn’t until I realized that I was “reproductively challenged” that I started to hear my biological clock ticking. Well, thumping was more like it.
Not every woman has that maternal pull to have children. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. For me, it was absent one day and present the next. Being one to be up for a challenge, I dove headfirst in to motherhood like I would a complex algebraic expression. I did my homework, prepared, planned and tried my very best to be ready. I never could have predicted the joy, frustration, heartbreak and happiness becoming a mother could have brought me.
There are so many things you can’t plan for, though. Like a stay in the NICU or a newborn that is unable to eat. You just adjust your expectations and move forward.
I was now a mother. I held the health, happiness and success of this tiny human in my hands and I was never happier. When you become a parent you reflect on your own childhood. Good or bad; what you would change or traditions you will carry on. It is now up to you to interpret these experiences and mold yourself into the parent you want to be. One day you stop and think ruefully, “I sound just like my mother, after all!”
I am lucky because my mother is still here and I am still learning from her. I think that is something that hits you after the age of 30. That there was a reason why your mom said and did what she did. To understand the true meaning of Mother’s Day and what it really means, you need to understand the person in your life that you call ‘Mom‘. Whether a caregiver,grandmother, favorite Aunt, an old family friend or neighbor this special person in your life was sure to have left their mark on you. A mother prides herself on watching you grow, protecting you, giving you a shoulder to cry on and supporting your decisions.
I know Mother’s Day is just supposed to be about me, a mom. But I can’t help but want to use this day to acknowledge all mothers and to recognize those moms who are not as fortunate as I am. There are too many who do not have a family to love and support them, who are alone, who are so overburdened with illness or poverty that is is difficult to find happiness. Use this chosen day to give a shout out to an important woman in your life, mother or not.
This weekend mothers across the country will be celebrated for their hard work and character. Some will wake up to flowers and breakfast in bed. Some families will give gifts. What most women really want is simple: appreciation.
That is what this day is all about to me. To appreciate all of the women in my life who have helped shape me into what I am today. Who support and encourage me. To take stock in what matters most and who fills my heart with love. I can take a seat and just watch what I have brought in to the world with pride. Listen to their cute little poems and memory books they created at school. Find a place for their little potted plants that they made for me and just enjoy my day with them. We may go on a hike or visit the art museum. A day with no plans, together, sounds pretty good to me.
So in honor of this day that celebrates motherhood, I will be making one of my mother’s favorite recipes. This is probably what she calls comfort food. It is versatile and easy, Polenta. This is one of my favorite things that she makes which is a hard call to make. My mother is a really good cook, I guess you see where I inherited my interest in cooking!
Mothers, enjoy this day, and feel special knowing that you will forever hold a place in your child’s heart and memories. That is truly the greatest gift.
Alternate preparation: when polenta is finished pour into a 9×13 pan that is lined with plastic wrap. Chill 4 hours or overnight. Remove from pan using plastic wrap onto a cutting board. Cut into desired shape. Heat a saute pan with a little olive oil and brown polenta square on both sides (about 4 minutes each side). Serve with a hearty tomato sauce, a taco meat blend or with sauteed vegetables.