Mothers pour themselves into their children, filling kids with love and knowledge and character and wellness. The more we pour, the more our kids grow – first into thoughtful, little people and eventually into their own version of adulthood, using a compass that we passed along to them.
When I speak with mothers of chronically ill or developmentally challenged kids, they sometimes tell me it’s like pouring their life force into a container that struggles to hold it. Mothers pour and pour until it seems as if they have nothing left and still their child needs more. The goal, these mothers say, may not even reach the layers of knowledge and character, but may be focused on the basic challenges of making it from sunup to sundown, or even on survival itself.
Mothers of children with health challenges pour themselves dry. They do this because they must, because they know that no one else will fill their child’s well of need, and because their hearts break for their ill children. As hard as it is to be the parent of an ill child, they know full well that it is even harder to be that child.
This is a roundabout way of saying that these kids really need their moms! They need them desperately and without end. Even when they war against their moms (as all kids do!), and when they don’t or won’t or can’t express their gratitude, it is usually the mothers that stand between their ill children and some sort of consequence that we would rather not think about.
I can’t imagine how hard it is to be the mom of an ill child. They listen patiently about other parents trying to get their kids to eat healthy food or go to bed on time. Or they hear a friend complain about difficult in-laws, or making a car payment on time—moms of kids with serious illnesses might only wish to have such small problems in life, compared to what they face on a daily basis.
Mothers of chronically or seriously ill children know what it’s like to be strong, weak, brave, and terrified. They experience a spectrum of emotions that most mothers will never need to know, or at most, only scratch the surface. Their capacity to love is without limit.
This Mother’s Day, we honor all the mothers who experience this, day in and day out. Thank you for all that you do and feel, and for your love, strength, and wisdom. Happy Mother’s Day!