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Mother’s Day was a special time for me when I was a child. From the time I first started to school, I remember using my hands to make things for people. I liked to make cards with a special meaning. Being from a large family of seven brothers and sisters, I often found it hard to recognize the individuality that I possessed. I still remember thinking about what I would write on each card. The message usually had something to do with thankfulness — either for something my mom did for me that no one else could do, or just thankfulness for the mom I had.
When my mother passed away, I didn’t realize how important those cards had been to her. She was not a collector of anything special that I knew of. Tucked inside her safety deposit box at the bank was a card I made for her on Mother’s Day when I was 7 or 8 years old. The card consisted of a “family portrait” showing each of my brothers and sisters and my parents. I had carefully drawn and cut out a figure representing each of my family members. The figures were glued together on the card as if they were hugging each other. This represented what Mother’s Day was to me — a time to recognize the one that did for me what I could not do for myself. Needless to say, I had long forgotten the card, made on a sheet of lined notebook paper using crayons scissors and glue. When I saw the card had been placed with important papers along with her most prized possessions, tears flowed down my face. I knew she was no longer there to hear me tell her how much I loved and appreciated her. I was glad I had taken time to make the card, even though she deserved so much more. In my eyes, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Her hair was naturally curly. I remember watching her brush her hair, sometimes pinning it back behind her ear, while I thought to myself, “She is so beautiful.” She never had to wear makeup as her skin always looked great with no blemishes. She would occasionally wear lipstick but that was all she needed. I remember holding my first baby daughter, Clarissa, and watching her tiny hands grasping in the air as if she was trying to grab hold of every moment at one time. She seemed so tiny and fragile but I had high expectations for my daughter. As most parents do, I wanted my girls to have the things I thought I had missed out on when I grew up. As my girls grew older and I also grew older, I realized that I hadn’t really missed out on anything that was important. My mother had inspired me to seek a career I would enjoy. I became an art teacher. I also realized that my daughter was different from me and because of her own individual inspirations and she didn’t need what I needed. She did need the encouragement to keep grasping for what she wanted and she needed the freedom to be the one that she became. I didn’t want her to become a carbon copy of me as there were many barriers to overcome in that direction. I wanted her to be what God wanted her to be. She had to learn to take the baby steps and then learn to run with the life she was given. I just needed to be there to keep saying, “ I’m here — I’ll catch you if you fall!” I have two daughters, each uniquely special to me, but entirely different. I am thankful for that. Watching them live their lives is comparable to a good book you just don’t want to stop reading. I keep thinking I am getting to the best part when along comes the next chapter with something even better than the last. I think this is what makes mothers want to stay here- to see what is going to happen next and those moments that make us so proud. The first grasp with the tiny fingers as a newborn, later followed by an unprompted kiss on the cheek by soft little lips, lets a mother know it doesn’t get much better than this on earth. I thank God for choosing me to be a mom. I’ve always thought motherhood is the one thing I am most proud of. Being a mom doesn’t mean you will be perfect, but in your children’s eyes, you never mess up and you never have to worry about losing the job. Unconditional love and a child’s forgiving heart covered a multitude of imperfections on my part. Even though I am sure my girls looked at other moms and secretly wished “that was my mom,” they seemed happy with me — the one they have. Now, I have been blessed to have four grandchildren. I get a chance to do again some of the things I did with my girls when they were growing up, but with less mistakes. Lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwich kisses, bouquets of weeds, but more than anything — love. That’s what makes Mother’s Day special. Carolyn Reaves is the mother of Clarissa Williams and Angelina Mason. She has four grandchildren, Bethany, 14; Cameron, 8; other two, ages. She lives in Williamsburg with her husband, Anthony.