April 20, 2013 was a blessed day in my family. Three weeks before this annual celebration of Mothers, and the miracles they work, our daughter was married. The photographs are glorious, and numerous as geese and cranes in a November morning "fly-out" from the marshes of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
Each photo depicts a piece of a wonderful celebration. But one is special for me. It was not taken by the official photographer, but rather by my youngest brother. It is an unscripted, simple, shoulders-to-head picture of mother and daughter.
When my wife first saw it, she said, "I look old." I said, quite honestly, "You look beautiful. You are next to a 25-year-old bride." But maybe what I like most about this picture is what is represents to me. It is a monument to 25 years of hard work.
Don't mistake me. Our daughter -- Mary -- has been a wonderful child to raise, and we have been fortunate as parents. But we have had many of the day-to-day struggles that all parents face, and it has been her Mother -- Barbara -- who has borne the greatest burden of those struggles. I can't tell you how many times I heard her say some version of this refrain: "I don't care what your friends' parents are letting them do, and I don't have the slightest interest in what your friends think of me." As Mary got older, and more skilled in debate, she would try to make "logic-based" arguments around seemingly arbitrary parental decisions like not allowing her to join in the trouble-ridden, right-of-senior-passage called "Beach Week." Barbara would quickly cut off discussion with something like, "Thank you for that bit of wisdom, but I have shoes in my closet that are older than you."
She has never been afraid to be a Mother; always willing to make the hard decisions that job requires; never looking for the easy way. And looking at that picture, I see the reward. A Mother who has done her job exceptionally well. A daughter who loves and respects her for that.
Even though the daughter still believes we should have let her go to Beach Week.
To all who serve in the blessed trenches of Motherhood -- Happy Mother's Day!