May 7, 2019

She spent nine months lugging you around wherever she went, first as a lump of cells, then later as a fully formed human waiting impatiently to come out. Of course, you didn’t make that easy, kicking her belly from the inside and waking her up in the middle of the night. Well, you did the latter even after coming out, and maybe the former as well when you didn’t get your favourite dessert after lunch, or that birthday present you really wanted.

Oh, but those were just a few slip-ups. She never let you go to bed hungry, made sure you were warm and cosy during winter and light and fresh during warm summer nights, tucking you in right after the 200th retelling of Hansel & Gretel. She picked you up every time you fell off while learning to ride a bike and made sure those cuts and bruises never got infected. You surely got ice cream that day as a treat to forget the pain, not that it hurt too much, anyway. She probably wanted to make up for the time you didn’t get your favourite dessert or that silly birthday present.

Those school years were impeccably amazing for you: packed school lunches, clean clothes, and new shoes. If you didn’t take the school bus, you got picked up precisely on the dot. Sometimes, your homework was miraculously completed the morning of the deadline, even though you didn’t touch it after storming into the house after school.

When times got tough, she made life easier. The principal got a stern talking to when that schoolyard bully made the thirty-minute break a living hell, and the other parents as well if they were not so lucky. You got an extra hour of TV after that, just so you slept a little quicker, and in the morning you had pancakes with chocolate syrup, starting the day off on a high.

You definitely notice these things and are immensely grateful. You love her, but your actions begin to suggest otherwise. Those teenage years are the first indicator, late nights, forgetting curfews, skipping dinner to roam around with your friends. The list goes on. A report card of your transgressions would go on for pages, but it’s still fine. You’re around, living under the same roof so everyone gets to see each other daily, even if you’re locked up in your room every Sunday from dawn till dusk.

Then the harder times roll in when more than a few miles get in the way. You go off to college to get that fancy-sounding degree, but you still need a phone call back home to make sure your dinner doesn’t turn into an inedible mess. A care package was always around the corner when you needed it. Boxes of instant noodles, school supplies, and extra pocket money when your wallet was as light as a feather.

After the first year, though, the missed calls pile up. Drinks on Friday and Saturday nights, hangovers on Sundays till the sun sets, then those crammed study sessions in the library and exams the day after. You eventually have a lengthy conversation when it’s time for graduation, and she drives all the way for your special moment. It’s picture-perfect, but not the full story.

Longer spells of absences follow as you jump from one job to the next, hitting hard times as life seems to fall apart. She’s always there as a shoulder to cry on when your plans go awry, and you needed to access an eternal fountain of hope and optimism. You lose friends and co-workers with every snag, but not her.

Things eventually do get better. You land a promotion, find someone special, and after countless hours and days together, you end up tying the knot. The wedding’s a big success and married life after that, too.

She’s there for every great moment and every awful one. When you move into your first home. When you hit a hiccup in your marriage. When the first grandson is on the way. When an untimely tragedy strikes. She’s always there.

You don’t have to ask or shout or scream for help. She just knows. You may have kept your end of the bargain and been there for her as well, but you know it’s not enough. There’s no repaying her, no matter how much you try. You know it deep down.

Simple gestures might have decent beginnings. You can go with a bouquet of flowers or even a box of chocolates delivered every other week by FedEx. But how long will they last?

This Mother’s Day, celebrate the women in our lives turning every moment, both good and bad, into a golden one. Nothing under the skies will ever make it up, but a gift of gold is a decent place to start.