In my job, I get to see a lot of mothers. Some of them only show up periodically, like the lady a few years back who was wailing on her nine-year-old son with her shoe and cursing the day he was born as she walked him up the sidewalk to school. I'm happy to say that she didn't make a return performance, but that moment certainly opened a window on just why this kid was having trouble in the third grade. He was showing up angry and embarrassed, and we spent the rest of the day calming him down enough to learn.
Then there is the mother who has come to lunch every day her son has been at school, to hand him his thermos and make check in. We all wonder if she will keep up this regimen once her son moves on to middle school. The trick, I suppose, is to stay somewhere right in between those extremes.
As for my mom, she was always there at the end of the day with a glass of Kool-Aid and a sincere interest in what happened at school that day. I remember her volunteering to be Room Mother for my second grade class, an especially dicey proposition since that was the year that concluded with the entire second grade luau. She was in charge of the pineapple and the poi for sixty-some boys and girls who had spent two weeks learning everything they could about our fiftieth state. As monumental a task as that may have been, I know that she was also busy helping out in my older and younger brothers' classes. She sewed costumes and band uniforms. She listened to endless retellings of the most recent Planet of the Apes movie. She kept us fed, warm, and loved. The fact that she was able to do this for the multitudes that her sons would drag home on a regular basis is even more impressive.
The mother of my child has taken up that standard and made it her own. To say that my son's creative whims are supported by her is a vague understatement. The Halloween costumes that have come out of this shop are always painstaking labors of love. She has learned the names of all the Rescue Heroes, only to have them replaced by Bionicles, and now an ever-expanding list of high-performance sports cars. When her son gave his Power Point presentation on Germany, she fried up enough sausage to feed his seventh grade English class . "The best of the wurst," she said upon her entrance, a joke lost on most of the pre-teens in attendance, but made our son laugh.
And that's what mothers do, after all. They show up. Sometimes a little. Sometimes a lot. But always and forever.