My wife recently told me a story about my own mom that, strangely, I had never heard before. Despite not having heard it before, it had a deep impact on me.
It was December of 2007, a week before my wife and I got married. Me, my soon-to-be wife, and our parents were all moving my stuff out of my parents’ house and into the moving truck that would carry it – along with my wife’s belongings – to our new apartment nearly three hours away.
If you had seen me that day, you would have become intimately familiar with my teeth due to the constant smile that alighted on my face. To say that I was excited would have been an understatement: I was getting ready to marry my dream girl, start a new career, and move to a big city to start a brand new chapter in my life.
After we spent the morning loading everything into the truck, my wife headed upstairs to use the restroom one final time before we departed. When she came out of the bathroom, she caught sight of my mom. This moment that, to this day, stirs something deep within me.
My mom was sitting in a chair in our family room by herself. The TV wasn’t on. There was no smartphone. She was just sitting there in the quiet room. But my wife noticed something else. My mom had tears in her eyes. She had been crying because, as my wife would later explain to oblivious me, her little boy was moving out of her house for the last time.
That day was the last day she would be the most important woman in her little boy’s life. From then on, she’d no longer be the one to take care of him when he was sick or be the one he’d go to for counsel.
As a father of two preschoolers, I can just barely comprehend the heartache she must have felt. If she had walked downstairs and made her pain and sadness known, it would have been completely understandable. But that day, my mom taught me something about mothers that I won’t forget.
She dipped into that vast well of love and strength, walked downstairs, looked into my smiling face, and smiled right back at me. She knew that the best thing for her son was to meet him where he was at, to temporarily quell her own sadness, and instead bring forth that part of her heart that was genuinely excited for the journey her little boy – now all grown up – was about to embark upon with his new wife.
She put herself last so that I could be first. With remarkable strength and unconditional love, she overcame her deepest sadness.
This remarkable strength isn’t characteristic of my mom alone. I watched my wife go through physical agony in order to bring our children into this world. I watched her nurse them as they grew. I watched her endure sleep deprivation to keep them healthy and happy.
I know moms who long to stay home with their children, but choose to work so that their children and families can have a better life. I’ve read incredible stories, like the one about the mom who fought off a mountain lion to protect her son or the mom who jumped in front of an SUV to save her children from rolling off a cliff.
But this remarkable strength isn’t limited to the extraordinary. It empowered my mom to make my lunch before school every single morning for 13 years. It empowered my wife to pump during her short breaks at school as a teacher so our oldest could continue to have sustenance. No matter the circumstances or the depth of loss and heartache, a mother’s love prevails.
If your own mother, wife, or friend has shown you this love, or if you know a mother who needs an encouraging word, reach out to them today to thank them.
Remind them that they can, and will, overcome.