Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Home is Where Mothers Are

“My mother is a walking miracle.” — Leonardo DiCaprio

            Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! This Mother’s day, I got to spend the morning and afternoon with my mom, but then had to work the rest of the day. I’m a server at a restaurant, so it was a crazy day filled with lots of large parties. I worked again the day after and at one of my tables there were four people seated, which included a man, his wife, and her two parents. It was the mom’s birthday. After I gave her dessert and had my coworkers help sing to her, her daughter commented that she got two days of celebration – Mother’s day and her birthday. I replied that it was because she was special, to which her daughter smiled and said that she was. Consequently, everyone else at the table agreed.

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” —Sophia Loren

            Mothers are special, and as a society, we treat and appreciate them very differently than fathers. I doubt that the same table would have said their dad was special. They might say he was a good dad, hard worker, dedicated, strong, etc. But special is often a word reserved for mothers, and for good reason. So in honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to explain why my mom is special to me.

“It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.” — Dorothy on The Golden Girls

            At my church, they presented a video asking children, “If you could spend a day with anyone in the world, who would it be?” All of the children said their mom. An article in The Atlantic by Elinor Ochs and Belinda Campos echoes this sentiment. They did a study to figure out which parent children were happier to see when they arrived home. Moms won. The study did explain that many factors were involved, including which parent arrived home first (most often mom). A lot of times children were already distracted with homework or various activities by the time dad got home. Even so, children more often preferred telling mom about their day, and asking them for help with homework and other things.

“[A] mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.” —Emily Dickinson

            This study reflects my little sister, who doesn’t share the same mom as me. I find it funny that she is happier when her mom comes home, and is more attached to her than to our dad. My childhood was different, because growing up, I’ve always been a daddy’s girl (still am). If I were kid in that video, I would’ve answered my dad, and my mom knows that too. I was definitely more excited when my dad came home rather than my mom. Me and my dad were inseparable.That’s probably why I’m my dad’s favorite. Just kidding (kinda). My mom was the disciplinary and my dad was the fun one who would rescue me from my mom’s punishments. However, when I was sick or tired, to this day I still want my mom. At the end of a school day, or at night while trying to not go to bed, I wanted to tell my mom all about my day and everything I learned. 

“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” —Victor Hugo

            My parents are very different, and have raised me very differently. My dad is my rock, who I can rely on for solid reasoning. Though not very communicative, he seems to have more to say about life as I get older, and I'll usually sit and listen, taking in whatever I can. My mom, instead, listens to me and every word I say with undivided attention. My dad is a fixer, who wants to find a solution as soon as he hears a problem. My mom is a molder, who wants to guide me to my own solutions. My mom is a comforter, and my dad likes to take action. As I’ve grown older, I learned about another major distinction between the two.

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
- Maya Angelou

            When you’ve lived at as many places as I have (which is a lot), home is not a word used lightly. I grew up going back and forth between my dad’s house and my mom’s. Then I moved a lot with my mom throughout high school, until eventually living with my uncle for a few years throughout college. For the past year, I’ve been living with my mom again, but I’m in the process of moving out and finding my own place to claim my independence. It’s difficult, and in many small ways my mom tries to make it even more comfortable with her so that I won't want to leave. I’ve also recently spent some time staying at my dad’s.

“Kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. It’s the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” —Barbara Kingsolver

            I get off work late sometimes, but also have late nights a few times a week for very nerdy reasons – book club, Bible study, or writing/blogging. I'll usually stay to hangout with friends after such events, which ends up lasting until midnight or later. My dad complains about how late I get in, and finally admitted it’s because he worries. He has trouble falling asleep until he knows I’m safe. My dad has always liked just knowing I’m physically there, even if we aren’t talking or spending time together.

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action.
- Mother Teresa

            My mom could care less what time I get in as long as I keep her informed so she knows I’m alive. When I get to her place late, she’s usually awake, and then we end up talking for hours, which is something we’ve done since I was a kid. Even if she has work at 6am the next day, and I get home at 11pm, she’ll talk to me, read my blog with me, listen to my day, and tell me about hers. It’s very easy talking to my mom about anything. She'll normally drop anything she's doing just so we can spend some time together.

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

            The other night it struck me that my dad needs to know I’m safe, but my mom needs to make me comfortable. My dad cares about my comfort, too, but his solution is helping me find a place where I can be comfortable and safe. My mom wants to make sure that I’m greeted when I come home, that I’m fed, that I have someone there to listen to my day. As many times as we’ve moved, she’s always tried to create a cozy and welcoming environment.

If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.
- Malala Yousafzai

            There are many sayings about home, but for me a home is this: a place where someone else cares about you. Something you can call your own. Somewhere you look forward coming back to. Somewhere you miss when you’re gone too long. A place where you feel like you can breathe. A place where you don’t have to worry about creating a mess. A place where someone asks about your day. A place where none of the food in the kitchen is off limits. Somewhere you can have peace. Somewhere safe and comfortable.

“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.”
― Robin Hobb, Fool's Fate 

            I love my dad, but he isn't my home the way my mom is. My mom fulfills all of my requirements of what a home is to me. She either gives me those things or she is those things. She may not understand how to cook good pasta (which my dad does understand), but she’ll make sure I have everything I want in the kitchen. She’ll create a space that is welcoming. She is the place I seek comfort, because I know there will be no judgment. She understands me, and won't tell me how to live my life, but still find a way to guide me. I find peace with my mom and can breathe when I’m around her. I don’t have to worry about taking up her time or being in the way, because as her only child, I am her priority. She is my place of security and comfort. She has created a home for me within herself, which is something not everyone can do. This quality is what makes her special.

“What is home? My favorite definition is "a safe place," a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It's a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.”
― Gladys M. Hunt, Honey for a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life