It’s a complicated day in our household. My kids call me to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. I’m their dad. Their mother kind of opted out of being a mother. That was juxtaposed against a strong and sincere desire on my part to be a daddy. Kids see these things and remember them.
Most mothers don’t opt out of being a mother, and Mother’s Day is, and ought to be, for them. I’ve always said that “daddy” is a verb. I believe the same of the word “mommy.”
My kids’ mom had an interesting state of mind about being a mother: she wanted to be a mother, but she didn’t want motherhood to change her life.
Other moms, I know, understand intuitively a simple truth: absolutely everything changes one’s life, especially parenthood. If you know that truth, and if you embrace it, then you’ll probably be a good or great mother or father.
I said above that “daddy” and “mommy” are verbs. Here’s the definition of “verb:”
A word that characteristically is the grammatical center of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or mode of being, that in various languages is inflected for agreement with the subject, for tense, for voice, for mood, or for aspect, and that typically has rather full descriptive meaning and characterizing quality but is sometimes nearly devoid of these especially when used as an auxiliary or linking verb [Red emphasis added]
A verb is an act or a state of being: To summarize: To do or to be, that is the question; whether ’tis nobler in the flesh… etc.
I believe that “daddy” and “mommy” are more verbs of action than of being. I am a daddy, I daddy my kids. It’s why my ex-wife has almost no interaction with my children on Mother’s Day. She is their mommy, but she never wanted to mommy them, and when they think of who actually mommied them — who listened when they hurt, who went to their practices, games and tournaments, who offered them advice, who asked them how their day was, who fed and clothed them, who got them up for school each day, who brought them to school each day and put them to bed each night, who told her hundreds of custom-made stories each night before bed, who sang him to bed each night, who “gave them comfy-cozy,” who got up to comfort them when they had bad dreams, who brought her to college, who spoke with his college volleyball coach, who attended her tennis and softball games, who went to his concerts and volleyball games, who filmed everything, who sent them “I love you” texts at least once per week, who found the time, and if there wasn’t the time, who made the time, who found the money, and if there wasn’t the money, who made the money, who was there when the cutest, sweetest cat in the world didn’t come home from the vet’s, who taught him and her to ride a bike, then to drive, who gave them values, attitudes, and a strong desire to know things and to know how to know things, who got up with her to watch meteor showers, who went out with him to run at the track at night, who promised he’d always tell them ‘why,’ who was always there, come rain or shine, snow or wind, fog, sleet, slush or you name it — they think of me.
In accomplishing all that, and a lot more, as well as working full time and earning a good living for them, I realized an important thing: most mothers who complain about the drudgery or difficulty of being a mommy, are the ones who never really wanted to be mommies in the first place. The easiest, most rewarding, fun, challenging, thought-provoking, worry-inducing, glorious thing in the world was being my kids’ daddy and mommy. The biggest pain in my once attractive gluteus maximus was managing and advancing my career.
One of the great sadnesses of my life came with the realization of all the above. It’s the fact that my ex-wife, who decided that to be their mommy was enough; that she was not up to mommying them and, as a result, she can’t ever have any of those thousands of deeply rewarding memories that I can look back at.
Today is Mother’s Day. It is a day to honor those mothers who understand that the word “mommy” is so much more than a state of being. That “mommy” means all that I listed above, and so much more. I’m both a daddy and a mommy, and my kids call me on Mother’s Day to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. And they call me on Father’s Day too. Only on Father’s Day, they try to spoil all over me!
That’s part of the tale of my small family’s life. A bigger picture would show you that my mother was a sweet, wonderful, engaged, loving, caring, thoughtful, wonderful mother. So’s my sister. They’re real mommies!
I know another sweet, wonderful woman. She’s an ex-girlfriend who has become one of my most treasured friends. She and her husband are fantastic parents. They’ve understood the nature of the words, “mommy” and “daddy,” they’ve lived it, and they’ve raised two beautiful, sweet daughters whose sheer wonderfulness is a glowing tribute to their wonderfulness as parents. Mother’s Day is for her, as well as for all the moms out there who instinctively recognized the depth of meaning encompassed in the word “mother.”
A mother who’s also a mommy, who understands what it means to be a mommy is a treasure beyond compare. A gift from God that should rank right up there with freedom, prosperity, happiness, love and laughter. Because she helps you have all that. And more. She’s a gift for all your life.
Happy Mother’s Day, all! May your day, and the rest of your life, be filled with vast outpourings of love, of respect and sweetness, of sentimental affection, loud hugs and frequent reunions, tears of happiness and beautiful memories, raining down on your noggins and in your lives every day for the rest of your lives. And may you truly understand the depth of meaning in the word “mommy,” and may you derive deep satisfaction from all the times you live up to that awe-inspiring, sacred charge.