I’m sure you’ve seen the bumper sticker that reads, “Lord please help me to become the person my dog thinks I am.” Yeah, that too, but I’d rather be the person my son believes I am. He is 7 years old.
I could never be the “world’s best mother.” I couldn’t if I tried. Sure, motherhood has got to be the most rewarding, fulfilling, but incredibly and insanely difficult job every imaginable.
There are so many things to take into consideration. This is my chance to make the world a better place, to donate the best adult I can to this world. Each night I go into his room to check on him after he goes to sleep and each night I pray I can do justice to God’s precious gift to me. I pray I can be what he needs me to be, and have the strength to follow through to be a better mother. But to my son, he thinks I’m the “World’s Best Mom” simply because we went to Taco Bell.
He’s told me I “rock.” If you haven’t been to a boy scout meeting, it’s predominately a “guy thing.” At most of his boy scout functions, I’m a bit out of my element. Take the camping trip a couple weeks ago — eight little guys, seven grown ones and me. The only girl. But I go, have fun, go hiking and sleep on the ground, even though I prefer “Camp Marriott” or “Camp Holiday Inn.” I’m learning how fathers and sons interact and am taking notes. You see, I’m a single mother. It can be tough to be a single mother. But you know what? Apparently, I’m doing OK! All it took for my son to say, “Mom, you rock!” was for me to know how to fold a great paper airplane. Who knew? He lost the paper airplane derby, but you know what? I rocked!
He tells me I’m the “World’s Best Cooker.” I’ve made my mom’s recipe of mac and cheese accompanied by bar-b-que weenies, one of his favorites. It’s not quite as good as my mother’s recipe, of course. I’ve tried several ways to fry chicken and finally discovered a way that’s almost as good as KFC’s — almost. I read cookbooks and make pastries, biscuits and pasta with only flour, eggs, milk and a rolling pin. Yet to become the “World’s Best Cooker, all it takes is a cheap box of mac and cheese and an even cheaper can of hot dog sauce. Necessity is the mother of invention: I call it chili mac, and it costs about $1 to make.
But when I look in the mirror, I don’t see the “World’s Best Mom” or “The World’s Best Cooker.” I see an aging single woman who never reached her full potential. I see every mistake I made, relive every bad choice I ever made and feel my heart ache for that one great guy I pushed away. I see all the choices that led to my son having no father in his life.
I see my former classmates conquering the world, setting out to do the very things they dreamed and said they would do. I know in my heart I was capable of the same accomplishments, but I’m here struggling with meal planning on $1. My choices were different. Maybe I should have done this, maybe I should have done that, and I would be able to provide better for my son. I wake up one day almost 40 years old, graying hair, never married, no house of my own, no new car, no savings account — and every goal I set for myself unfinished. I relive some mistakes and bad choices, and see the lost opportunities. Mistake after mistake after mistake. I see a person who loves her son dearly, but could have done a better job of providing for him if only…
As I ponder all these thoughts, my son calls to me.
“Momma,” my son asks, “did you ever do anything wrong?”
How does he see an entirely different person? How does that happen? If I could just be the person my son believes I am.
Not a day goes by that I don’t love my son more and more. Last night when his paper airplane didn’t win, he was upset. I explained good sportsmanship, that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. He was still upset, a mix of being mad and crying. I tried to get him to laugh. He said he wanted to stay mad and didn’t want to laugh. Well, he started laughing. He looks up at me, immediately smiles, gives me the BIGGEST hug and says, “Mom, we sure have some good times, don’t we?”
I wouldn’t change my life for anything. Thank you, Lord!
(Writer’s note: I wrote this 17 years ago, and my son is now 24 years old. He paid is way through college on his own with no debt, bought and paid for his car that is nicer and newer than anything I have ever owned. He is preparing to move into his freshly built home with his girlfriend with a balcony view of the ocean. I was a proud mom then, and an even prouder mom now.)
— Karen Brilliant Andrews
Karen Brilliant Andrews, a natural born optimist, is the creator of “The View from Here, A Maine Focus.”