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ValueSpeak: One gave me life, one gave my life meaning

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You know, love and stuff.

You know, love and stuff.


Anita gave birth to our first child nine months to the day after we were married.

OK, it was nine months less one day. But who's counting?

So Anita experienced her first Mother's Day as a mother before she experienced her first wedding anniversary as a wife. And we wouldn't have had it any other way. We talked about it considerably before we were married. We both wanted to have children just as soon as God was ready to send them to us. We sort of figured that was the reason to get married.

Well, that and, you know, love and stuff.

Anita’s first Mother's Day was actually just a few days after our AmyJo was born. I was excited to go out and buy a cute little card from Amy to her Mommy. I even held the pen in her tiny hand and helped her to "sign" it. And I picked out a wonderfully appropriate gift from Amy — a breast pump — and took it to my parents' home so my mother could help me wrap it.

“A breast pump?" Mom asked when I showed her Anita's first Mother's Day gift.

“Well, yeah," I said a little defensively, stung by the all-too-familiar, I-can't-believe-I-raised-an-imbecile tone in her voice. "She said she wants one. And I got the deluxe model."

“A breast pump?" she asked again, incredulously.

“Yes,” I said. "It's for … you know … pumping …”

“I know what it's for," she interrupted. "I just hope your gift is a little more personal."

At first I wondered how you could possibly get anything more personal than a breast pump. Then it hit me: my gift? My gift?

“Uh, I wasn't really planning on a gift from me," I said. Mom fixed me with her iciest who-are-you-really-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-son stare. I squirmed uncomfortably, then tried to explain: "Well, she's not my mother."

“Maybe not," Mom said. "But she's the mother of your child. And as of about nine months ago, she is the most important woman in your life."

These were powerful words, coming from my mother. Family was the most important thing in the world to her, and family loyalty ranked right up there with faith in God, patriotism and no cheating at Yahtzee as values to be cherished. Nothing was more important to her than her eight children, who could do no wrong in her eyes — even when they did wrong. As much as she loved my seven brothers- and sisters-in-law — and she loved them deeply — she never felt that they were quite worthy of her children. And I figured that she felt the same way about Anita.

That’s why it surprised me a little when she referred to my bride as the most important woman in my life. I assumed Mom felt she still rightfully occupied that position, especially since I was her baby and — I was quite sure — her favorite. But her stern look and the tone of her voice made it clear that a transition had taken place, one that I needed to venerate and respect.

Of course, Mom was right. Thirty-seven years later I can see the many extraordinary ways in which I have been blessed by the two great women in my life: the one who gave me life, and the one who gave my life meaning. Both have nurtured me. Both believed in me beyond logical reason. Both saw something in me that I couldn’t see for myself. And both helped me to work past my failings to come closer to achieving that potential. Which is why I honor them both this Mother's Day.

Well, for that, and, you know, love and stuff.

To read more by Joseph B. Walker, visit josephbwalker.com. Twitter: JoeWalkerSr