In my family, we celebrate Mother’s Day twice — May 10, as in Mexico, and the second Sunday in May, as in the States. I’ve bought my mother’s gift already. But pondering whether that was enough led me to reflect on one of my mother’s greatest gifts to me. Not surprisingly, mothers give more than they receive. What they give — like wisdom — comes with no price tag, but the dividends are huge.
Rosa or Rosita (little rose), as my mother likes to be called, was born in 1938 in Cuidad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico, to a family of very humble means. The eldest of four sisters and two brothers, Rosita is of the Great Depression generation; she grew up with a deep sense of responsibility, caring for her siblings and contributing what little she could to the family household. She had trouble learning in school, so by fifth grade she dropped out, too embarrassed to repeat a grade. She married very young and, as luck would have it, there were problems in the marriage.
When she divorced, after our family had immigrated legally to this country, she found herself with no formal education or job skills. She had been a stay-at-home mom in Mexico. But like a phoenix, she rose out of the ashes. She worked two jobs to support my brothers and me. Eventually, she bought her own home in Greenfield. She often says she would go through her troubled marriage again, for her children are the greatest gift that God has given her.
My mother has no formal education, yet she is wise. She’s recognized her mistakes and has learned from them. After her divorce, she opted to work — even if it meant working two jobs — than become trapped in the welfare system and by default destine us to a life of low expectations, the eternal victims, blaming others for our circumstances. My mother didn’t try to buy our love or respect. She didn’t feel sorry for my brothers and me for not having the kind of expensive clothes and toys that other parents were buying their children, even if they got into debt. Instead, Rosita taught my brothers and me life skills — cooking, cleaning, working, and saving money. My mother loved us wisely.
Having a diploma or degree is no guarantee that a person will be wise. Some of the dumbest things people do are when in high school or college. The “Blue Whale” game entices teens to commit suicide, not unlike the risky behavior that binge drinking leads college students to.
When you think about what you will give your mother this Mother’s Day reflect on what she has given you. Her greatest gift may be the good she so wisely taught you to do in the world. And isn’t that the best tribute you could pay her?