What are those pictures of? Pictures of a mother’s love and dedication.
In the technical sense, they’re
- my birth certificate (not the official one I can order from the state, but the original one made in the hospital on the day I was born)
- my immunization records and my growth records
- my social security card
So yeah, just “boring documents you keep in a file”, right?
But they’re also tangible signs of all that my mother did for me. If there was an important document, she kept it carefully on file for me, and when I was an adult, gave it to me, and made sure I knew to keep it carefully on file.That birth certificate is 47 years old. On the health records, you’ll see that not only did I attend all my well child check-ups and get all my shots, if you look at the dates, you see my one year physical was scheduled exactly on my birthday. My two year old physical was the day after my second birthday – my birthday fell on Thanksgiving that year.
They’re visible reminders of how hard she tried to be sure that her children were all well cared for. My mom made our meals every day – dinner was always at 5:30. And there was always milk with dinner. Except when we had tacos – tacos were always accompanied by pop or lemonade – quite a surprise to drink that when you’re expecting milk!
She packed lunches. She made clothes. She washed clothes. She read to us and encouraged us to read. She took us to the library – a lot. She took us to church every Sunday. She served on the PTA at school. She taught me to sew, cook, clean, but never to knit. My fault – I refused to learn. She took us to 4-H and scouts meeting (and yes, she was a den leader too). She made sure we made it to school on time all the time. She took us to the doctor when we needed it.
When I was a kid, I took all that for granted. Isn’t that what all moms do?
As an adult… as a social worker… I know that no, that’s not what all moms do.
For all sorts of complicated reasons – from mental health to poverty to homelessness to substance abuse to racism to illiteracy to domestic violence to war and more, many moms are not able to do for their children what my mom did for me.
Probably most adults don’t have their original social security cards, immunization records and growth records, and their original birth certificates on file. Many adults don’t even know if they were immunized. Some adults don’t know when or where they were born. And they didn’t have three meals a day, and they didn’t get to school on time…
With that knowledge, and the knowledge that comes of raising three kids of my own, I no longer take for granted all that my mom did for me. It takes so much hard work, so much commitment, so much love to do what she did for me. With every meal she cooked, every sock she washed, every book she read. Every thing she did. Every day.
She’s 81 now. And I’m 47. And she’s still doing a pretty fabulous job being a mom to a daughter who doesn’t really remember to say thank you for that very often.