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Saturday, May 10, 2008

On Mother's Day

This is my first Mother's Day as a parent.   I am into a year now with my first child, and consequently my first year with my wife as the mother of my child.  I can tell you that the meaning of Mother's Day has changed dramatically now that I see my wife being a mother.

My mother is an amazing woman.  I could do this via an email and tell her how much I appreciate what she has done for me over the years, but I choose my blog as the stage from which I emit:

OH MY GOODNESS!   THIS IS HARD... AND WONDERFUL...AND YOU ARE AMAZING!

I have not spent much time around children prior to having one of my own, so many parental behaviors invoked little thought on my part.  I never realized, viscerally, what having a child really meant.  My son and my wife are my world. Software and my little side-projects (including this blog) are simply fodder to feed my soul to keep me present and contributing to my family.  I now understand why my mother sacrificed and worked so hard for me and my sister.   At least, I understand it as well as a first-year father can....

My mother is a single mother with two children--a post that should out-earn a CEO or movie star.   My wife, too, spent years as a single mother (her first child with another man).   What these women experience and sacrifice is tremendous and unappreciated--and on top of that, single mother's are frowned upon (at least in my day).  Shameful, really; because a single mother is truly a tiger.

I was given tremendous freedom as a child, an environment not easily (or safely) replicable in today's world.  I went to the cinema, and the park, and the library, and the corner store without a parent; and I was only eight years old.  My mother armed me with a situational awareness that at once enabled her to give me the world and yet protected me from the harms that lurk.  This sense of awareness of my environment and attention to the potential harms has served me well.  Her philosophy gave me confidence without fear.

Aside from the freedom to roam the neighborhood, my mother gave me the freedom to think.  At a very early age I started to experiment.  I built robots, a laser, airplanes (from scratch, the model kind), built forts, dams, tree houses, a cave, a raft...the list goes on.  I was encouraged to explore the world and to report back any findings.  We grew up with very little as far as material things go, yet I felt rich with knowledge and expectation.  I expected to learn something every day.  The family has stories of my hijacking kitchen equipment and stuff from the back alley to build my latest creation with...all without complaint from my mother.   

I had a wondering eye growing up (my eyes rolled out of my head, basically).  My mother drove me 110 miles to a specialist a couple of times a month.  To this day, while I suffer from the condition, I am able to control it because my mother was ready to do anything for me. 

When I got older, I decided I wanted to go to private boarding school, where I wanted to finish out my high school years.  My mother earned less than thirty thousand dollars a year and yet managed to send me to a school that cost eighteen thousand dollars a year.  There were a lot of wealthy kids there.  I never suffered for feeling out of place there because my mother sacrificed to make it possible for me--although to this day I don't really understand how she did it.

Later, when I went to college, albeit on scholarship, my mother was there to support me.  Later still, when I needed to come home for a while, she was there (although I was not allowed to move home--go Mom!--I am so glad for her discipline).

There are countless stories I could tell really.  My mother is one of the smartest people, and certainly the most fearless, energetic, and selfless woman I know.  There is no thanks great enough...

But thanks anyway.  I love you!  If I am half the parent you are, the Africa clan's newest addition is in good hands.  My wife, my mother, my grandmother, and all of the other mothers out there deserve more than just a holiday...

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