I have written much about romantic love these past months and nothing at all about its counterpart, familial love.
Romantic love, for all its dips, curves and histrionic complexities, somehow feels simpler—more accessible—than its counterpart.
For how do we write about a love that is so massive it encompasses a space greater than our own lives? How do we discuss a love so deep it traces its roots to another’s body? How do we even begin to comprehend a love that simply is?
I, for one, have no idea.
But I would like to try.
I would like to give my mother what I offer the world on a regular basis: my heart in words.
So, Mom, this is for you:
All these 23 Mother’s Days, I don’t think I have every properly thanked you.
You gave me something no one else can ever give me—something no one can ever take away. You gave me myself. Not only my body, but many of the strengths—and flaws, too—that shape my being.
You dealt with me for nine months straight. A feat you yourself would probably not care to repeat, and which, certainly, no one else could manage.
You (with help) provided me with the strongest foundation love could build. You sent me into the world with the absolute certainty that I was loved. I didn’t know then how rare a gift that was.
So much of what I write owes a debt to the confidence you instilled in me. My commitment to self-love and respect. My inclination towards introspection. My sense of self and my faith in my own body. Without the love in which I grew, would any of it come so naturally?
Ours has not always been a straightforward relationship, but I think that probably make us normal. At the end of the day, there aren’t many people in the world who will love me no matter what, and to have a love like that in my life—already I am grateful.
To know one another at our most glorious and most unlovable, and still to feel certain that a love that simply is will always be there—I think that is something truly special. I think it is sometimes too easy to take a love like that for granted, because its existence underlies all the indefinite gray areas of life that demand our attention.
Today, at least, and every day that I remember, I am grateful.
I do not take it for granted.
On this Mother’s Day, I give you no more or less than I do on every other day—no more or less than what you have given me for even longer. In fact, on this Mother’s Day, and every day, I offer something beyond my power to give: a love that simply is.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Author: Toby Israel
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: courtesy of the author