A few weeks ago my mom and dad sent me the birthday card above for my 50th birthday. Inside, the card read "It's your birthday, celebrate accordionly!" After that, there was a short hand- written note that said: Happy 50th. You've come a long way.
I bet my mom was behind the card choice. Mainly because I have nothing to do with the cards sent from our house, and I'm just fine with that. Also, because I know my mom remembers sitting in our house for hours on end while the grossly unperfected sounds of a 5th grade accordion player drowned everything in their path. Which only now explains why she always insisted on having a lifejacket nearby.
She's right, though. I have come a long way. The years that followed those accordion lesson days were filled with sour notes that made my mom's little accordionist sound like Pietro Deiro - there's your google opportunity for the day. Time after time, though, my mom was a lifejacket to me. She always believed the me I appeared headed to be would somehow turn into the me she knew I was created to be.
I've been writing a book lately about what good dads do. While writing it I've lived with the understanding that it appears to short change change moms. I don't like that, but it's impossible to challenge dads to be better dads while focusing on the wonderful things moms are doing. Even if not as often as I'd like to in the book, I recognize moms are the glue holding families together, many of them holding them together on their own.
I think one of the reasons moms don't get the kind of credit they'll get today year round is society has always perceive raising kids as a mom thing. So the moms who are doing it are simply seen as doing their jobs. Nothing more, nothing less. Meanwhile, the dads who aren't doing it get off the hook because it's not seen as their job anyways.
I've come to appreciate my mom so much more than I ever did through watching how much love and passion and tireless effort Katie puts into being a mom. Trust me, she treats it as far more than her job. And I know I strive to be a good dad, but any day I achieve it is impossible without Katie by my side each step of the parenting day. She does so without wearing a face of burden. And as the years have rolled on, I've realized, my mom didn't wear that face either.
That doesn't mean she didn't have reason to. Mainly because she had me when she was a teen. When we had Elliott, our first child, I made a commitment that our kids would always come first. Any goals or aspirations I had in life were now second. That's a little bit easier to do as a 42 year old man than as a teenage girl. Many of the things I wanted to do in my life or the steps I wanted to take to prepare myself for life had already been taken. That wasn't the case for my mom. Her life was all ahead of her.
There's no way my mom didn't feel the burden of those early years of being a mom. She had to see the world around her and count the things she was missing out on. I'm wise enough today to look back and help her count. And I do. Which makes me incredibly grateful to have the mom I have.
I try hard to live an unselfish life, and with each passing day I feel like I'm a little more successful in that aim. I have to credit my mom for that, because I think I'm finally becoming the person she gave up so much for me to become. Granted, I never became a Pietro Deiro, but I did become a dad who treasures his kids and understands my responsibility to them is a wonderful gift from God. That in itself says I've come a long way, and I thank my mom for every minute and mile of it.
Today I'm grateful for my mom, for our boys' mom, and our boys' mom's mom - who also modeled of commitment to being a loving mother. I'm grateful for all moms out there. So many people worry our world is falling apart. But I see the love and determination most moms are pouring into their kids, and it wipes my worries away. Happy Mother's Day.