Oh, Now I Understand
This morning at breakfast, I had some very nice toast and butter. My husband and I are careful with the carbs and the calories, so really good bread is a treat. We are also careful with the evening snacking, so I was really hungry.
But there was a pair of sad, pleading eyes staring up at me. A bottom lip thrust a little bit out.
And as hungry as I was, I gave that last bit of toast, so nicely buttered, to Theo.
Which of course made me think of:
Oh, she doesn’t have those mournful eyes or that trembling lip.
I’m thinking of her because now…
Now I understand.
I never had children of my own. Motherhood was a concept always just out of my reach, always just a bit out of focus.
But now I have a dog.
And now I am just a little bit closer to understanding motherhood. To understand my mother.
And I have something to say.
To Mom, who turns 94 this week, I’d like to say more than ‘Happy Birthday!’
I’d like to say:
I’m sorry for all the times you gave me the last cookie, the last M&M, the last piece of pie, when you really wanted it for yourself.
I’m sorry for all the times I acted like a brat to get your attention when you were with friends or talking on the telephone.
I’m sorry for all the times I was sick and I didn’t even try to make it to the bathroom, but threw up just wherever I happened to be.
I’m sorry for all the times that you were sick, but got up and got me fed and clean and dressed anyway.
I’m sorry for all the times you got me all bundled up in sweaters and snowpants and boots and scarves and mittens and hats and parkas – and then I stayed out for four minutes and wanted to come back in.
I’m sorry for all the times you told me that something was a really bad idea, and I did it anyway, and then I found out it was a really bad idea.
I’m sorry for all the times you were tired from your job and from making supper and from cleaning up from supper, and all you wanted to do was sit down and watch Andy Griffith, and I said: “Play with me!”
I’m sorry for all the things I broke because I wasn’t supposed to throw that thing in the house or run in my slippery socks or jump on the sofa.
I’m sorry for all the times I “helped” when I was much more of a nuisance than an actual help.
I’m sorry for all the noisy toys you ever bought me.
I’m sorry for all the times I whined and pleaded for new clothes that I just “had to have’ and then didn’t really like them that much after all.
I’m sorry for all the times I didn’t come when you called me. I’m sorry for all the times you wondered where I was and for all the times you had to picture me lying in a ditch.
I’m sorry for all the times you had to step in and settle the petty squabbles I had with my siblings, when it would have been so much easier to let us kill each other.
I’m sorry for all the times I made a mess right after you cleaned the house.
Oh yes. Now I understand.
And I understand how a mother forgives even before you say:
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Thanks for forgiving me for all that and more!