Sunday, May 9, 2010
The Jedi Knight of Motherhood
It's now just after 8:30 p.m. on an unseasonably chilly but comfortable May evening. It's Mother's Day; the day we devote to expressing our special love and appreciation to those amazing women who devote every ounce of their being to making their house, apartment, condo, whatever, into the loving safe-haven their children will always remember as home.
I'm sitting out on my back deck as the sun gives way to dusk with just my laptop and my thoughts. Not surprisingly, I find myself thinking about my wife, Meredith, who is the wonderful mother of my children. Meredith never ceases to amaze me. She endures the sleep deprivation caused by the late-night cries of an awakenened child. She often stops what she's doing to answer the call of a two-year-old who's proudly pooped in the potty and insists that mommy be the one to wipe his little fanny. She prepares breakfast and lunches for our three children (hopefully having washed her hands thoroughly after that fanny-wiping episode). Then she fills her day with family errands, battles against ever advancing piles of dirty laundry, proofreading first-grade homework to ensure that its done correctly, and cleaning dirty dishes that seem to grow miraculously on their own out of the bottom of our kitchen sink. Oh sure, I do my part to help out, but my household efforts and stamina pale in comparison to Meredith's. She's a tutor, a maid, a manager, a chauffeur, a pharmacist, a child psychologist, a crisis-control specialist, a chef, a cheerleader, a bodyguard, and--during those times when the kids seem to be holding my sanity for ransom--a hostage negotiator. No doubt about it; in our family, Meredith is the hero and the glue that holds the Howard household together.
Mothers are an interesting creation. How God managed to fashion something so beautiful and feminine, yet so strong, tough, fierce, and occasionally terrifying out of one little rib I'll never know. My wife is a gorgeous woman with a smile and laugh that could capture any man's heart. But mess with one of her babies and you'd be better off mooning an unchained pit bull from three feet away. She's the protector; the gatekeeper between our kids and harm. God help the saturated fat that tries to sneak its way past her into our children's diet. I challenge anyone to find even an inch of skin on one of our kids that hasn't been slathered in sunscreen between May and mid-September. She's the Jedi knight of motherhood, wielding band aids, tissues, sandwich bags of cheerios, teaspoons of children's Tylenol, and packages of pull-ups with all the skill and mesmerizing speed of a maternal lightsaber.
I guess that's true of most mothers. Like Meredith, they can be stern and the disciplinarians when they have to. But even the lectures, time outs, refusals to give in to a child's request, and occasional spankings are always out of love and the deepest affection. There's a reason country music singers feel compelled to sing about "Momma." It's no wonder that Mary is mentioned in Christmas carol after Christmas carol while Joseph sits in heaven eternally thinking to himself, "C'mon, even the ox and lamb got a shout-out in The Little Drummer Boy." Everyone knows that Mom is the star of the show. Dad is important, for sure. But he's not mom. No one is.
Sometimes at night I'll tuck my children into bed while Meredith cleans up after dinner or just takes a much deserved break on the couch with her big bowl of popcorn, a glass of her favorite wine, and one of her reality TV shows. Emerson, my oldest, is usually okay with it. She's kind of a daddy's girl so she doesn't mind spending the last few moments of the day with me. She tells me a little about her day, reads me a book (now that she can read she likes to read to dad rather than the other way around), kisses me goodnight, and tells me that she loves me as I get her into bed.
My boys, on the other hand, are another story. Just the other day I heard on the radio that the South ranks as the nation's number one region for "Momma's boys." If that's true, William and Carson will only serve to solidify that ranking. Every time I tuck William in I have to endure a barrage of questions like, "Where's Mommy?"... "Is Mommy going to come tell me goodnight?"... and "Will you ask Mommy to come lie down with me?" Whenever I offer to be the one to lie down with William, he always asks, "Why? Did Mommy go to the gym?"
The scene is practically the same with Carson. He cries as I walk or carry him to his bed, the phrase, "I want Mommy," repeated over and over. When I finally get him calmed down and at least tolerant of the idea that Dad is the one putting him to bed, I sometimes will whisper in his ear, "Carson, do you want to hear a secret?"
"What?" he whispers back.
"I love you," I say.
He then usually smiles, leans close to my ear, and softly mouths the words, "I love Mommy" (except for once when he said, "I love chocolate"). Oh well, you can see where I rank on my sons' parental spectrum of affection.
Thus, this post is simply a "thank you" to my wife on this most special day for moms. Thank you Meredith for being a great mother and a sensational wife. Thank you for being a best friend and a partner in raising our kids. The love our children have for you and the devotion they feel toward you is a testament to what a wonderful mother you really are. I'm honored and fortunate to be your husband. I'll most likely never rank quite as high as you do. After all, no one kisses a boo-boo or makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich quite like Mom. As dad, I'm stuck playing second fiddle. But that's okay. What father can possibly rank as high as Mom if she's really doing her job right? I just hope that one day I can consistently edge out chocolate for second place.