ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

JUST A MOTHER

They came to the table from all parts of the state – men and women, young and old, disparate by design.  The intent was to solicit information from a broad spectrum of contemporary human experiences.

And believe me, this group’s spectrum was broad.

“I’m a high school science teacher,” said the first member of the group when he was asked to introduce himself.

“I sell cars,” said the next.

“I have my own scrap booking business,” said the third.

“I’m a CPA” . . . and so forth around the table until it was the turn of the final member of the group to identify herself.  Quietly, almost apologetically, she told the others her name.  She hesitated a moment and looked down at the pad of paper in front of her.  Then she added: “I don’t know why I was invited to do this.  I’m . . . just a mother.”

There were smiles and soft chuckles all around the table as the other men and women acknowledged the mother’s discomfort.  No one belittled her or her comment, but no one challenged it, either.  Instead, all eyes turned to the discussion moderator, who was looking at the mother thoughtfully.

It should be noted that the moderator is widely known and respected in her community as a woman of significant accomplishment.  She is pre-eminent in her profession, acclaimed for her civic leadership and well-known for her benevolent involvement in a wide assortment of worthy causes.  If anyone had a right to be amused by the mother’s self-deprecation, it was her.

But there was no amusement in the moderator’s eyes as she paused to consider the mother’s comment.  Instead she looked concerned, and a little troubled.

“I’m sorry,” she said at last.  “I generally won’t comment on anything you have to say around this table.  I am here to listen to you, and not offer my own opinions.  But I can’t let that pass without telling you that I don’t believe there is any such thing as ‘just a mother.’”

A hush fell over the room, and the young mother squirmed uncomfortably.

“I’ve known people who were ‘just politicians,’” the moderator continued, carefully choosing her words.  “I’ve known people who were ‘just business owners,’ or ‘just doctors’ or ‘just lawyers’ or ‘just real estate salespeople.’  But I’ve never known anyone who was ‘just a mother,’ because I honestly don’t believe there is anything greater than being a mother.

“Creating a child inside your own body is the ultimate science experiment.  Teaching a child the things they need to know in order to survive in a sometimes frightening world is the ultimate opportunity to educate.  Feeding a child, from birth to adulthood, is the ultimate culinary challenge.  Clothing a child through the various phases of life is the ultimate test of fashion sense and design.  Deciding how to appropriately allocate personal and family resources in the training and development of a child is the ultimate test of financial planning and investment brokering.  Maintaining effective relationships with a child through infancy, childhood, adolescence, the teen years and into the adult years is the ultimate test of flexibility, diplomacy and public relations.

“‘Just a mother’?” the moderator concluded, sharing a knowing look with the mother seated next to her.  “I don’t think so.”

She paused, gathered some papers and looked around the group.

“OK,” she said.  “Shall we begin?”

A gentleman on the other side of the table raised his hand to interrupt.

“Just a second,” he said to the moderator.  “It’s your turn to introduce yourself.”

“My name is Ruth,” she said, smiling brightly.  “And I’m a mother!”

— © Joseph Walker

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Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

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