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Lynn Hummel: A mother’s love has tenderness and intimacy

As a caring, loving father, who had a caring, loving father of my own, I am not willing to admit that a mother can care or love more than a father. But, I suspect a case could be made that a mother’s love has a tenderness and intimacy that is rarely matched by a father’s love (that has other qualities that are not part of this discussion).

My own mother, gone for over seven years now, told me to finish the food I’d put on my plate and get to work. But she also was the one I went to when I was feeling inadequate and she was the one who told me I was OK. She was the one who told me how great my dad was and she was the one who told me how wonderful her friends were. She said good things about them behind their backs and demonstrated the depths of her family love, friendship and loyalty. She only lived 95 years, not long enough to pass all that along to me, but she’s still with me every day.

I’m married to quite a mother too. She’s been wonderful to our three kids, still in touch with them almost daily, but she’s everybody’s mother. Mothers who once were teachers could fill out a four page report card for everybody they know. Nothing escapes her attention.

She knows her kids inside and out and she knows her grandchildren inside and out. She’s always thinking about what she can do for them, gifts to buy them and advice they need. She remembers the color of every room in every one of their houses and every stick of furniture in every room.

She thinks she’s my mother too sometimes. Without her, she believes I’d be standing out in the rain somewhere, wearing my high school graduation shirt. Without her, she believes I wouldn’t know how to judge good character from bad, real from phony, flashes from frauds.

She’s our family architect, our decorator, our planner, our worrier and our conscience. But her greatest gift may be her sense of humor. Without that, we’d be history. With it — we’ve MADE history.

Our daughter, Goldilocks, when she was growing into young womanhood, gave swimming lessons to regular kids (if kids from Frazee, Minnesota can be considered “regular” kids), then gave swimming lessons and supervision to blind kids, was a camp counselor for special needs kids with physical and learning challenges, had a college roommate who died at the age of 22 with cancer, then worked for the Red Cross in making arrangements for needy service personnel with family emergencies.

In the process, she developed the heart and skill to deal with just about every tough break a person can get and do it with good cheer. So when another imperfect child came into the world, God knew Goldi would be a perfect mother for him. So he gave her that child, but a strong and devoted father was also in place along with two “regular” brothers and a sister who learned quickly how to give support. That’s what makes a family.

We also have a daughter, Cinderella, the mother of three “regular” kids. Her role is not nearly as dramatic as her sister’s, but no less important, tender or intimate. She has the support of a strong, devoted husband as well. In that family, the love is demonstrated by daily encouragement in reading, schoolwork, music and sports activities, and the results are obvious in good grades, good manners and the respect those kids feel. That’s what makes a family.

Our fifth mother is our daughter-in-law, Annie from Afton. She has what it takes, along with our son, Buckwheat, to raise two kids very different from one another. She’s patient, kind, soft spoken, thoughtful, ambitious and smart. She’s a beautiful girl, inside and out. Annie spends hours and hours every evening with her bright and charming, but mischievous and distracted son, who needs the encouragement of her iron discipline. Her dedication has shown great results. Hats off. For her daughter, just the daily routine of encouragement, tenderness and intimacy are all that love requires. That’s what makes a family.

If you can’t brag about mothers just before Mother’s Day, when can you? Join me in honoring the mothers in your life. Love them back and Happy Mother’s Day to all of them.