Wherever they are, that’s where I am, too

Sunday is Mothers’ Day.

I think about motherhood all the time, honestly, so, for me, a set-aside day to think even more about being a mom isn’t too big of a deal.

And I’m not exactly the breakfast-in-bed type.

This year, instead, as I approach Mothers’ Day, I’m reflecting on the kind of mother I am, and the kind of mother I want to be.

And I’m remembering my favorite passage from one of the most marvelous books I’ve ever read, The Children, the story of the youth in the civil rights movement.

There’s no way to do justice to the passage without quoting it, and, so, to briefly introduce it (and acknowledge that it’s actually about a father and his son, but it still speaks to me as a mother), it tells the story of a parent whose son was arrested for participating in a sit-in. The father lived in a rural community and, as an African American, was vulnerable to reprisals from the white power structure for his son’s audacious behavior while away at school. When the father first found out that his son was participating in the sit-in movement, he visited him in jail and told him to worry about himself, not about the family back home, giving his implicit approval for behavior that must have been quite frightening to contemplate.

This scene is what reverberates in my mind:

“Everyone in Whiteville, it seemed, knew what Curtis had done; the story was big news there. A few days after Curtis’s arrest, Buck (the father) was walking down a street in Whiteville when a white man he knew yelled over at him. “How’s that jailbird son of yours doing?” “He’s doing just fine,” Buck had answered. “Where is he?” the man said, mocking him. “Is he still in the Nashville jail?”

“Wherever he is, I am too,” Buck Murphy had answered, and when Curtis heard that story a few days later, he knew that whatever else happened during the sit-ins, he might never again feel so close to his father.”

I know that my children will take on battles that I cannot join, and that I may not even understand.

I know that their journeys will take them away from me, and that I cannot hope to follow.

I know that they will have their own struggles, and that they may, in fact, sometimes struggle against me.

And I know, above all else, that “wherever they are, I am too.”

Happy Mothers’ Day, to the three wonderful kids who let me be a mom.

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