The Masonry of Motherhood

I’m back to writing following a brief hiatus. Camping with my son on Friday night prevented me from writing and publishing a post that evening. Sharing in dinner, laughter, and community with dear friends (not to mention a couple of bottles of wine and some Scotch) precluded my writing routine last night. So now that I had “the weekend off”, I’m here to write the second to last post of the month, and perhaps the last routine post for a while (you’ll have to tune in to Monday night’s post for details).

You’ve seen me write about my kids and also about my wife Lee. My family means so much to me it’s hard to put it into words sometimes, and it’s definitely a challenge to come up with new ways to describe the feelings I get when I think about my wife and my kids. Given all that, I am very remiss in the fact that I don’t write nearly enough about someone so equally special to me and that is such an important part in my life.

My mom is my constant. She is, in a way, the architect of who I am today. Where my dad was more the designer of my persona, I would say my mom was always focused on the engineering aspect of who I was. On top of a deep foundation of family and Catholic fundamentals, my mom placed brick after brick of life lessons, each reinforced with the mortar that was her love, as well as the unwavering rebar that was her strict discipline.

My mom was nothing if not consistent. She never caved to any puppy-dog-eyed please for exception or mercy. She never faltered in ensuring the rules that applied to everyone else also applied to me. It’s as if she measured every brick precisely, none greater than the last, none diminished by any sense of complacency. What made my mom truly remarkable in her masonry of motherhood was her ability to be meticulous. Style was not really important. For my mom, the substance of what she was making would serve to be the measure of value, respect, and integrity.

I love my mom and I truly enjoy her company. I wish we did not live so far apart with her in Miami and me in Tampa. I wish we had the opportunity to interact more and for my kids to be with their grandmother more often. All that being said, no one sets me off or pushes my buttons quite the way my mom does. The last several years have been an exercise in me learning to be more patient with her so as to ensure the limited time we do share is that of quality time. This is especially true given the very recent reminders that mortality is an eventuality, and I don’t want to waste time being upset at or bothered by my mother.

I hate to admit how little I’ve been able to show my mom the love and appreciation she deserves. At the very least we speak weekly and every conversation ends with an exchange of ‘I love you’. Yet, I know that’s not enough. It’s not enough to bank on a phone call. It’s not enough to really on Hallmark cards on Mother’s Day and her birthday. All of that doesn’t even begin to come close to being enough when I consider how my mom has always been there for me. Unwavering. Unassuming. Unbelievably constant.

I don’t know what the solution is in the long run. My life is here in Tampa, and until my kids graduate from high school (2019), my life will remain here in Tampa. I’ve talked to my mom about moving up here to be closer to her grandchildren, and we discussed the many pros and cons to that idea. Still, we each remain resigned to the fact we’ll see each other a handful of times per year and maintain the formal and cordial relationship of mother and son. Until I can figure out a way to change and improve this, I guess the best I can do is to live a life of value, respect, and integrity, and always give her a reason to be proud of what she created.

May my actions as a husband, a father, and a human being serve as a monument to her legacy as a mother.

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