As the fourth of five children in my family, I thought I knew what a HUGE job it is to be a mother. My mother worked endlessly to make sure we had clothes to wear, two shoes on our feet (and on the right feet), tangles brushed out of our hair, and SO much more. She was bookkeeper, taxi driver, launderer, housekeeper, cook, teacher, advocate, disciplinarian, and our most loyal defender. Among the five of us, I believe we found all the right buttons to push to create nightly entertainment at the dinner table, where she then proved her skills as referee.
My mother was not perfect, she would willingly say she made mistakes, but we never doubted her love for us. She taught us humility, discipline, empathy, oh, and also, how to clean bathrooms, do laundry, mow lawns, the list could go on.
She was always our biggest fan. I know this because I overheard many of the conversations she had with my father as she was filling him in on her day after we were supposed to all have gone to bed. My mother would share all of the best things about each of us, so proud of each small accomplishment. Some of those overheard conversations impacted me the most. I am a true believer that every word that is spoken within the hearing range of our children helps to define their view of themselves.
As I became a mother myself, I learned so much more about the depth of love that underlies all that a mother does. How vulnerable it makes you to overwhelming joy, tears, frustration, long nights of worry, and so many other emotional highs and lows as children learn and grow. Needless to say, I am grateful for the example my mother was to me and for the ability to call her, even as an adult, when things get hard. I am grateful that she wasn’t perfect or I wouldn’t have known what to do when I made mistakes. It was in her relationship with me that I learned to be in relationship with other people. It seems that each of us was created to need someone who sees us as special, worthy, capable, and kind. Someone who can give and receive grace and who believes in us and all we can be.
Because of my professional role, I am acutely aware that my childhood experience is not the same with all children. Being a mother can be complicated with little or no support or many other life challenges that make being a mother overwhelming. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I am so grateful for all the moms in our community who do their best every day to nurture their children and families through thick and thin. And I am truly thankful for the special families who choose to open their hearts and homes to be that presence to children through fostering or through adoption. It is a gift - your life invested selflessly in another’s and one that has an impact on each child for a lifetime. What an awesome responsibility.
So, to all our mothers, we say thank you. Your patience, prayers, tears, loving care, and hours of work help make the world a better place. All of us at ACH wish you a happy – and hopefully relaxing – Mother’s Day!
Melissa Opheim, Chief Operating Officer