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Unconditionally Mom

Unconditionally Mom

Why your mom doesn't hate you even though she should.


Your mom should hate you.

Your mom gives you everything. That is all she does. She gives and she gets nothing back. Not from you. You take. She’s a giver. You’re a taker.

That’s the way it is. It’s always been that way.

Even before you were born, mom gave. You lived in her womb. You were fed. You were warm. You were safe. Everything was taken care of. You grew. You kicked and thrashed around. No one complained.

And, ok, to be fair, she liked it. Sort of. At least she grew to like it. She was uncomfortable. As you got bigger she got bigger. Her growth was disproportionate to yours. “I am eating for two,” she said. But it wasn’t horrible. She was nurturing a new life and it was nice.

But then you decided to leave. And your leaving was traumatic. It nearly killed her. She survived. But low death rates at childbirth are a miracle of modernity. Survival isn’t something you can take for granted. And even in the best cases, it is painful. Like really painful. Like really, really painful.

And emotionally, too, it was hard. But it happened. You were born. And now she had you. Little you.

You didn’t say thank you. Not at all.

You cried.

You kept her up at night. You ate. You cried. You teethed and you drooled and you chewed on things. And you cried. You didn’t sleep. You made demands. You were loud. You cried.

And you didn’t always smell so nice either.

What about dad? Well, he was dad. He tried. But it wasn’t the same. Mom was on her own.

You got older. And you didn’t say thank you. Again.

Mom kept giving. She gave and she gave. Her giving was non-stop. She drove you places and made you meals and bought you clothes and loved you and put bandaids on your boo-boos. You complained. You kveched. You probably took her for granted.

Time went on.

You became a moody teenager. You were difficult. You were resentful. You had to be told to do things. Twice. More than twice. And maybe mom found you frustrating or challenging or difficult to understand, but she loved you anyway because, well, that’s what moms do. Being mom is a thankless job.

But she was used to it.

And then – at some point – it was time to move out. And that wasn’t easy for mom. She didn’t like that. You would think mom would be happy to see you go. It’s about time. Finally. She’s free.

But it isn’t. She can’t handle it. Seeing you go is just as hard.

I remember when I moved out. It was my first day at college. My parents brought me to school. They helped me move in. But then they wouldn’t leave. They hung around. They came with me to get my student ID. They waited with me on line.

And my mom freaked out. She went bananas. She was in a mood. She was annoyed. She picked on everything. She couldn’t handle it. Eventually my dad said, “It’s time to go.” They left and I was on my own. Thank God.

But what do you expect?

Her baby was leaving home. He was moving hundreds of miles away. It was traumatic. It wasn’t traumatic for me – I was thrilled – but it was traumatic for mom.

That’s the way it is.

Mom gives unconditionally. That’s her job. That’s all she does. Mom gives. She doesn’t get a thank you.

At first you can’t say thank you. An infant can’t say thank you. A screaming, teething baby can’t say thank you. Toddlers won’t say thank you. Some kids say thank you. But teenagers don’t. Teenagers are too self-absorbed.

And then they leave home.

Unconditional giving leads to unconditional loving.

Mom gives unconditionally. You would think that unconditional giving would lead to resentment. I mean, that should be the case. Being mom is a thankless job. You ingrate.

But no. It isn’t.

Unconditional giving leads to unconditional loving. It is the way you are wired. It’s how you are made. It is a deep Jewish idea, too. The Hebrew word for love – ahava – comes from the Hebrew root, hav, to give. The basis of love is giving. Mom gives. She gives unconditionally. No one gives more unconditionally than mom. And no one loves you more unconditionally than mom.

That’s how it works.

On Mother’s Day, you hear enough hype and feel enough guilt that you feel like you have to do something.

And you should.

Send her a card. Buy her flowers. Give her a call. You need to do it. Gratitude is an important trait. It is something you need to internalize. For you. It will make you a better person and your mom will appreciate it.

And if you forget, well, you blew it. But you don’t have to worry. She loves you anyway.

She gave you too much not to.

May 10, 2014

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Visitor Comments: 17

(15) Boca Mom, June 6, 2014 8:40 PM

a different spin

I would like to offer a different spin on this. I read some of the sorrowful responses from people who did not have the mother they deserved to have. I will offer this idea to them - you have G-d watching over you, loving you unconditionally, and the fact that you made it through a difficult childhood and are here writing shows that there was someone there for you, G-d. Often when I feel like I am not the best person I can be, and I worry about what G-d thinks of me, I reflect on the fact that even when my children do the wrong thing, even when they hurt me, I still love them and will still care for them and want to help them as soon as I compose myself. Then I realize that this is how G-d looks at all of us and I feel better about myself, and I feel good knowing ther is someone loving me unconditinally. I was very lucky to have a good loving mother, but if you unfortunately did not, then remeber there is always someone there for you, G-d is there watching over you.

(14) Anonymous, May 20, 2014 5:50 PM

excellent article and so true

(13) Anonymous, May 17, 2014 1:54 AM

Thank G-d you realized her shortcomings and made a conscious effort to treat your own children differently.

(12) Anonymous, May 13, 2014 5:49 PM

At mother's day I was with my three children.
But around this period I feel guilty for who I am. I know I tried to be a good mother. Was good when they were babies. always put them first. But my limitations as a homemaker and mentally healthy person make me feel so much guilt. How do I handle this now that they are adults?

Anonymous, May 18, 2014 6:30 AM

Know that you did the best of your abilities.

What can make you feel better is talking to your children--get their opinions, their view, themselves on the situation. Pray--as I'm sure you have--to be the best that you can be for them (even if they are currently adults) and striving to get better and better. Higher and higher, with the help of HaShem.

A mom who keeps striving to get better and better, and higher and higher with the Almighty's help is a great mom. And I don't doubt you strive for more. HaShem is always there to provide strength and help. No matter our limitations of any kind, with HaShem there is always a way to get better and better (by learning and growing, re-learning and growing, learning and growing and the process repeats).

I really believe talking to your children, being around other loved ones, and prayer will be of great help to you. May you continue to learn and continue to grow--as each and every one of us needs to as well.

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