This is the year my mom decided to retire from the job she’s held for the past 30 years. It was a decision she considered and reconsidered, and in the end she just felt like the time was right. She’s a little worried now about how she’ll fill her days—she wouldn’t mind doing something meaningful, but she also doesn’t want to be committed to a particular schedule. She wants to experience the freedom of retirement.
This is the month my mom spent more than two weeks at the hospital with her oldest daughter. It’s not an uncommon situation—my sister has been mentally handicapped her whole life, and my parents have navigated through a necessary series of medication changes, each of which has had physical, emotional, and/or mental side effects. My mom serves as her daughter’s personal historian and advocate in a healthcare system that is sprinkled with an ever-changing mix of people who are caring, rushed, knowledgeable, oblivious, tentative, overbooked, mystified, well-meaning, narrowly focused, cheerful, and sincere.
This job of caring for my sister is one she’ll never retire from. Moms don’t retire. No matter how difficult the conditions, how long the hours, how low the pay—she will always mother this child who needs her. Sure, she’ll always mother all of her children in some way or another, but her role with us changes over the years. Her role with my sister doesn’t.
To women everywhere who remain committed to the calling of motherhood—even when the job turns out to be more than you expected—perhaps a “Happy Mothers Day” seems like small compensation. I agree. You deserve more.
But that’s sort of the essence of motherhood, isn’t it? You know that you deserve more, but you don’t think about that. You just do the job. Because you love it. Because you love us. And you show us what true love is.
Happy Mothers Day.