Cuz I know the kids are well
Yes, you’re the mother to the world.
Genesis – Please Don’t Ask
Twenty-three years ago, I wasn’t thinking about Mother’s Day. I wasn’t thinking about mothers. I wasn’t thinking about the woman I was going to marry that day as a mother.
I remember thinking that I couldn’t imagine being married even five years. It wasn’t that didn’t want to be, I simply couldn’t wrap my head around it.
And yet, here we are, twenty-three years later, and I’m still married to that same woman. And now, a lot of what defines us is our roles as parents.
And Karen, my wife, is an amazing mother that doesn’t get enough recognition for what she does. Let me give you four examples.
The first example is about twenty-five years old. Yes, before we were married. Karen and I were dating, and we were engaged to be married, but it was a while off.
However, my nephew was being systematically abused by his mother and ignored by my brother, his father. The boy wasn’t even three yet, and he’d already experienced his mother stubbing a cigarette into his leg to punish him, he’d seen her stab her boyfriend, and she’d locked him him his room most Friday nights so she could go out to bars. Yeah, not a candidate for the winner of Mother’s Day.
And we were doing what we could to get him out of the situation. Karen was the one that suggested we move up the date of the wedding and adopt him. A child that she’d only met about three weeks before. Because that’s who she is. She had the mothering instinct long before she was a mother.
It’s along story as to why that didn’t come to pass, but I blame that on the misnamed Childrens’ Aid Society. But that’s another story for another day.
The rest of the examples all come from the past year.
The second example comes from last July, when I participated once again in the Muskoka Novel Marathon (quick note, I’m still looking for donations for this year’s marathon, if you’re so inclined. End of quick note).
Anyway, at the MNM, Karen decided to come up with me and, because she was there, offered her services to help out wherever she could. It was with some trepidation (we found out later) that they paired Karen up with the Den Mother, the much-beloved Mieke Byl, who was a one-woman kitchen machine.
I found this funny, initially because, if you know Karen, you know how she is in a kitchen. If you don’t…well, the jokes started with, could Karen even find the kitchen? Yeah, she’s that good.
And Mieke had been doing this for years, with little or no help. She had a routine and she knew it well. Then Karen, this interloper, came in.
And they got along famously. All day, as I sat and typed away, I could hear laughter coming from the kitchen. Whenever either of them came out, they were all smiles.
But more than that, Karen came to have the same love and caring attitude toward the marathoners they both supported. Though Karen didn’t have the Den Mother title, she truly became a mother toward the marathoners, even going so far as to help one with a piece of their story involving a wedding dress. Because that’s who she is. She’s willing to help out others and step into the mother role whenever needed.
The third example was last September, when our son brought home a friend. He was a kid we’d had stay over multiple times in the past couple of years. His mother kicked him out of the house with startling regularity for the smallest and the stupidest of infractions.
This time, he’d been out of the house for three days with no money and nothing but the clothes on his back. The same clothes he’d been in for three days. And he’d had to break into the garage of his mother’s house and climb into the rafters to sleep, pulling some boxes around him in case she happened to see him. This was mid-September. In our part of the world, it can get pretty damn cold at night.
We couldn’t see that happen. Without hesitation, Karen kicked into gear and moved him in with us. She got him clothes, a bed, and furniture for the bedroom. She fielded the ridiculous calls from his mother (“You better not have the school call you when he’s absent, because I need to know where he is at all times”…from the woman that didn’t know where he was for three days). She did it all. Because that’s who she is. She will not stand by while someone is mistreated.
By the way, tomorrow, that kid will have been with us exactly eight months.
And then there’s the last example, from last night. Karen had previously told all the kids, no friends sleeping over this weekend. This is our anniversary weekend and it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. So, this weekend is for us.
Again, our son came to us. He mentioned that one of his friends had no place to sleep. His mother told him he couldn’t come home (I’m guessing she had a date or something). And his father, who was in Ottawa, refused to let him stay in his house.
Honest to God, I don’t know why we don’t force people to get some sort of licence to have children. There’s so many shitty parents out there. Meanwhile, I’m sure this kid’s mother didn’t get the irony of not giving her own child a place to sleep on the eve of Mother’s Day.
So, when our son came to us, Karen didn’t hesitate. “Okay,” she said. “He can stay. I won’t send a kid out of my house with no place to sleep.”
Because that’s who she is. She’s always put everyone else’s needs above her own.
And yet, for all of that, she never gets the credit she deserves. I tend to get some attention because I’m the one that types out these stupid little blogs and messages. But it should be known that, if it wasn’t for the woman that I married twenty-three years ago today, if it wasn’t for who she is, the mother she is, the wife she is, the person she is, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
So, this is for my wife, the mother of my children, and the surrogate mother for many others.
Happy Mother’s Day, babe.
And Happy Anniversary.
I love you.