I watch the way my grandson Corwin relates to my daughter Treena. He's nearly 3 and trying to assert some independence, but it's a front. Treena is the center of Corwin's universe.
Moms are there
when it counts
He always keeps her in his peripheral vision to see where she is and what she's doing. He looks to her for validation of his worth and capabilities, for comfort when he's out of sorts, for plain old attention when he needs to know he matters.
He's uneasy whenever she steps out. She always returns, of course, and knows just what to do when he reaches out his little arms for her loving embrace. Watching them, it seems like the job she was born to do.
The same is true of my kids and their mother. Our family has had good times and periods when things have been rough. Sometimes I've been the villain in the eyes of our children and sometimes it's been my wife Maggie. But one thing has been constant: It's Maggie's approval the kids have always craved above all else.
It's left me feeling a little jealous. Sometimes I'm audacious enough to think I'm the smarter of the two of us, the foolishness of which proves in itself that I'm not. She's the mother and her opinion just matters more. Case closed.
I can't really complain because it's the same with me and my own mother.
My dad was a devoted family man who had few interests that didn't involve the family. He was always around and we were close, sharing many common interests that allowed us spent a lot of time together.
But while it was my dad who taught me how build a sawhorse and take a fastball deep, when I think of the truly pivotal moments in my life it was always my mom who was there to guide me. For better or worse, she more than anybody else is responsible for the person I became.
No matter how bumpy my journey through the public schools, there was never any doubt I would attend and finish college. My mother had been telling me from the day I was born that I would be the first in the family to do so. When the time came, there was no question I would stop fooling around and fulfill the destiny she had set for me.
She drilled me on the evils of drugs and the virtues of hard work, fairness and decency. By the time I was old enough to make my own decisions, it simply wasn't an option to do other than what she had taught me.
She'll be 75 years old this year and still has a powerful need to mother me. I'm 50 years old and have an equally powerful need not to be mothered in the same way as when I was 5.
Sometimes her need to mother wins out and I give in. Sometimes my need not to be mothered wins out and she gives in. Sometimes the stubborn streak she inherited from her mother and passed on to me wins out and we bicker.
But never a day passes when I don't see and appreciate how much of who I am came from her.
On this Mother's Day, I tip my hat to the three generations of moms in my life. It's the world's most difficult and important job and they have my admiration for how beautifully they do it.
David Shapiro is managing editor of the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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