My mother was a teenage bride. I have written previously about her performing history and about some of the things she taught me when she was in her early twenties, among them how to read words and music.
At that same age, I was staying out all night in the company of reprobates and, outside of work, had no particular responsibility for anyone but myself, a recurring pattern on several counts. So I am always amazed that my mother managed not only to take care of me and my two younger sisters (all born by the time she was 27), but also to begin a career of teaching and helping others that continues to this day and is marked by many achievements. And somehow, she has generally been patient with my many foibles, and appreciative of my talents, which number far fewer.
We share a love of poetry, and I commemorated Mother's Day yesterday by giving her a copy of Mary Oliver's new collection Red Bird and of Louise Gluck's Averno. She in turn presented me with a copy of the moving Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen, with whom she will soon be taking a workshop on storytelling and healing.
No Mother's Day is complete without a call to my stepmother, whom I have known since my staying-out-all-night years. She bore my youngest sister when she was in her late thirties, yet took on the role of fiercely devoted mom and fond stepmom with alacrity and tolerance, neither of which can have been easy.
Both these mothers are strong and smart and loving (and get along well with each other), and I love and adore them. Two of my sisters are now mothers as well, and I hope their children, in the years to come, appreciate them - on Mother's Day or any other day - as much as I do mine.