For me, Mother’s Day is bittersweet, both my best day and my worst. Thirteen years ago, the greatest gift imaginable, 7 ½ pounds, brown haired and brown-eyed was laid on top of my chest and would forever own my heart. Sadly, nine years later, I lost my mom to a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
The last few years of her life were tough, as she struggled with simple every day tasks that were once second nature. It was challenging for me to assume that caretaker role when deep down inside, I just wanted my mom back. My mom was my most trusted confidant, even though growing up we fought like there was no tomorrow. However, between the outbursts and the tears, I never doubted for a millisecond that my mom loved me with an unconditional love that had no boundaries.
She was overprotective, like a lioness watching over her cubs, an unspoken mom privilege which extended long into my adulthood. Regardless of where I lived in the country, she would make sure to remind me to both “lock the door, it’s cold outside, so put a sweater on.” My mom held me accountable and dished out tough love. At the same time, she was my fiercely devoted champion and enthusiastic cheerleader. I was never the stand out kid on the field or on stage, but as far as my mom was concerned, I might as well have been the MVP and an Oscar winner.
Case in point, I was the “Lady in Red” in a no line, walk-on role in a high-school play, yet during those few seconds that I crossed the stage, one side of the audience jumped to their feet erupting in cheers. Turns out, my mom had gone row-by-row imploring everyone to give me a standing ovation. I was mortified, but not at all surprised because if you knew my mom, this was par for the course. No matter where in the country I was working, my mom made sure that everyone in town from the coffee shop owner, the gal at the cleaners, the folks at the nail salon, and frankly anyone who would listen knew that I was the news anchor of said station and to be sure to tune in to watch. My mom was a one-woman, unpaid, underappreciated PR agent who wouldn’t trade her job for all the money in the world.
When the doctor told me that I was having a “girl,” my mom burst out in hysterical tears and laughter uttering the words, “see, you are going to have a daughter, just like you.” A payback sentiment she often threatened during our heated battles. All joking aside, in that moment the emotional message was undeniably clear. She was overjoyed and over the moon, knowing that I too would soon experience that overwhelming, indescribable depth of love that she knew only a mom could understand. As always, my mom was right.
No matter how eloquent and expressive I aspire to be, words seem empty and don’t give justice to how it feels to be a mother. My daughter brings out the best and the worst in me, just like I did to my mom. But this go around, I can see the difference. In the movie As Good as it Gets, Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt that she makes him want to be a better man. I understand the sentiment, as my soon to be teenager makes me want to be a better person.
So, although Mother’s Day is laced with sadness and a longing for my mom to call me and tell me everything’s going to be okay, I know that because of her spirit, courage and most importantly her love, I will never shirk my motherly duties. And I’ll always remind my daughter that “it’s cold outside, so put a sweater on.”
— Robin Sewell is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning Arizona Highways Television.