To a Son on Mother’s Day

12:00AM Sep 15, 2008
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By Patricia P. Leimbach, Ohio author/farm homemaker
Once I lay in labor clutching friendly hands and breathing deeply and yearning for the end; when the fog lifted a small form lay in my arms and it was mother's day.

A hundred nights I asked myself in panic "Is he breathing?” and ran to a cradle and touched your warm body.

On sunny afternoons you stood in your crib and reached for a sunbeam; and you have grasped for tangible things, baubles I cherished that broke at your touch, and I have wept a mother's tears.

I have heard your screams and have run to stop your flowing blood, and sat in emergency rooms stroking your head and holding your hand and praying . . . on mother's day.

I have looked at school pictures of dishevelled children and seen only one face—yours; I have sat in auditoriums where among a hundred performing children only you stood out.

I have watched you at play with strange children when you stood aside shy and frightened; and again I have watched you lead a charge on the haymow with all the neighborhood kids in pursuit. I have gone at the tug of your hand to inspect tree houses, tent houses, caves, leaf piles, forts and snow men. Always it was mother's day.

I have scolded and chastised and paddled; I have cajoled, laughed, applauded, advised. I have untangled fish lines, tied tails for kites, sewed bags for marbles, laced ice skates; I have made milk shakes, baked cookies, packed picnics, performed the many small joys for you that complicate and enrich a mother's day.

I have screamed at you in my impatience over unimportant things, and gone to you in your hurt and apologized. I have recoiled at words and deeds "good” children do not inflict on their mothers, and been overwhelmed with forgiveness when you said, "I'm sorry.” Then it was mother's day.

Your father and I have shared you and delighted in the sharing. There were times of arbitration when I explained you to each other and times you drew apart from me for father's days I could not share. Best of all were days of unity and harmony we enjoyed together—family days.

You have come clattering into the house with the smell of school rooms heavy upon you and shouted, "Mama! Guess what?” And I have guessed a thousand times, and known the only truth was that you wanted me there.

From the window I have watched you at play and at work, developing strength and independence, and I have felt the tug of the "silver cord.”

I have given you over to other mentors—to teachers, ministers, 4-H leaders, coaches—and been grateful to them for what they gave you of themselves and proud to share my mother's days. Sometimes I have been jealous that always you show them your best face while at home you bare your other faces (realizing, of course, that this is as it should be).

The world claims you more and more, and I go to bed not always knowing where you are, but loving you and trying to trust you always.

You bring me a plant for Mother's Day, or a handmade card, a handkerchief, or a bottle of cologne; or you bring me nothing more than you have already given, and certainly you need not. I gave you life, and every fulfilling day since, you have given me back something wonderful of yourself on a succession of endless mother's days.

Farm Journal, May 1970