‘Mother’ is music to my ears

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Remember the “mother song?” Most of us probably learned it in elementary school and sang it perhaps in a Mother’s Day assembly or just in a private concert for our mothers on that special day.

I think I still know most of the words because we sang it in several grades. My mother probably remembers it too, because with six of her own kids and three adopted children, I imagine she heard it more times than she can count. It goes like this…

“M is for the many things she gave me

O means only that she’s growing old (yep that is what we sang and I’m not too crazy about that line now that I’m the one it’s being sung about)

T is for her tender loving kindness

H is for her heart of purest gold

E is for her eyes with love-light shining

R’s for right and right she’ll always be

Put them all together they spell MOTHER, a word that means the world to me.”

Those may not be the exact words, but pretty close. It is kind of amazing that I carry those lyrics around in my head after all these years. As I read them again in the context of being the sung-about adult instead of the singing-to-mother child, I couldn’t help but laugh a little at some of those glowing and rather imaginative descriptions of motherhood.

I’m betting my kids, now that they are grown up, might have a different take on the whole mother-is-a-sainted-being thing, especially the two who are now parents themselves. I mean honestly I love my kids, but I don’t think my eyes ever glowed except when I caught them in the middle of some mischief. And then it wasn’t exactly love-light shooting from them.

Of course, I’d like to think that I displayed tender loving kindness and I do think I tried. But tender loving kindness is tough when a teenager gets that look on his or her face that only a teenager has. You know the one I mean. It’s that expression that says, “You are stupid but I have to live here so I’ll tolerate you, but I won’t like it one bit.”

Tender loving anything kind of flies out the window in that moment — at least it did for me.

As for the heart of purest gold, maybe that was true some times. However, when I became a parent, I learned pretty quickly that my heart wasn’t suddenly purer just because someone now called me, “mother.” I still struggled with all the shortcomings I had before the glorious birthing experience. All I did was try my best to get my children through childhood without damaging their psyches too much.

The many things I gave them — did my best there too, but mostly I said “no” to lots of stuff they wanted, including tennis shoes that cost more than the monthly payment on my first house. Hopefully I gave them plenty of more valuable non-material things like hugs and lots of love.

That brings me to that next to last line in the song, the one that gets an “Amen” from mothers everywhere. And so, as a Mother’s Day wish to all who mother some other human, be it a biological child, a grandchild, a stepchild, a niece or nephew or any other variation of the mother/child relationship, at the top of lungs I sing the closing lyrics in your honor.

“R’s For Right and Right She’ll ALWAYS BE.

Put them all together they spell MOTHER— a word that means the world to me!”