Today’s excerpt is roughly 400 words from the middle of a section about my mom that pushes in on something like 2000 words by itself. I like this piece of it because it hi-lights what I, as a man without children, think is the essence of motherhood. It’s a bit tongue in cheek and I hope you enjoy it for what it is.
I take after my mom quite a bit, and not just because I look like her. My mother helps people, any way that she can, and though she’s tempered it with caution over the years, she is still more likely to say yes to someone in need than to turn them away. This is a trait that I have developed also. My mother instilled in me an empathy for the people around me, and I do what I can to take care of them because that is what she would do.
I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I didn’t need to be, because my both of my parents are kind, generous people with a strong sense of what is right and wrong. We didn’t need to have a religious figure to tell us to do good, because we had parents that just expected that of us. I can remember being young and being slightly afraid of making my father angry because he could be a strict disciplinarian, and his sharp tongue would cut deep into you in just the right way.
As hard as it was to bare his words, though, it was, and continues to be, so much harder to see the look of disappointment and hurt on my Mom’s face. That silent look of disapproval still shuts me down at my core. She gave me that look if she caught me drawing on walls or stealing candy, and it slides onto her face when I come inside from smoking a cigarette now. She doesn’t hold it on me, though. She has a way of knowing if I feel guilty, and she’ll say something subtle and almost conspiratorial, like, “Matt’s got to go on his cigarette break.” Knowing that she is aware that I do something she disapproves of takes all of the pleasure out of doing it.
When faced with a moral decision, I find myself asking, “How would my mom react to what I’m doing?” Generally, I do the right thing. When I talk to my friends about their moms, I can’t help but wonder how it is they’ve ever been able to do something right in their lives if their moms really hadn’t given them a sense of right and wrong the way mine did. How can you expect someone to do good, if they aren’t worried about disappointing their mom?