Usually I can be found the night before Mother’s Day in the grocery store, the Hallmark store having been closed for hours by then, looking over the Mother’s Day cards that are left, trying to find the one that conveys just the right message. I look for one that expresses the humility of motherhood. Sometimes that humility can be hard to find in real life, but in those situations where it is found, it shines like a full moon in the middle of summer.
A friend of mine once shared an experience she had that demonstrated to me the simple and wonderful humility of a mother.
My friend attended an East Coast college in the late 1980’s and met a whole host of interesting people who in turn knew even more interesting people. In spite of knowing such connected people, Amy was always composed and little impressed with station or status, and very few people could overwhelm her composure.
That stoicism was challenged once, though, when she met a particular woman. On a brisk November day, Amy was invited to a birthday party in New York City. She knew no one at the party except for the friend who invited her. She had no connection to the person whose birthday was being celebrated and even the prospect of meeting this person – an internationally known person at that time – did very little to impress the unflappable Amy.
She traveled to the city with her friend and they made the trek to the Upper East Side apartment where the party was to be held. The guests were welcomed by a perfectly dressed middle-aged woman. In her soft voice she introduced herself as John’s mother, the man whose birthday was being celebrated.
Amy was speechless. She accepted the gracious introduction and walked in but the introduction stayed with her forever. This woman who introduced herself as John’s mother was Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onasis, who in her life, was linked to many powerful and well-known men, carving an identity for herself, but on this day – the birthday of her son – her identity was that of a mother.
Throughout life we all have many different identifies. We start out as a son or a daughter. In school we might be a bright young student; in college a stand out in sports; in later life a doctor, lawyer, mechanic, cashier or one of many other careers. But if we are truly blessed we get to be a parent – a mother or a father. From the day of the birth of our child we hold that moniker no matter what. What we do with it and how we use it is up to us.
Jaqueline Onasis is known for many different roles: photographer for a Washington, D.C. newspaper, wife of a Senator, First Lady of the United States, wife of a billionaire, and philanthropic socialite. But that day in November, she celebrated her greatest role – the one she humbly discharged through her life – that of a mother.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who humbly rock the cradle that rules the world.