Children: Let Them Amaze You
Acts of Courage
Once a year, we take time to honor the women who courageously brought us into this world. It is an act of courage to become a mother. All of us have or had a mother, some of us are mothers ourselves. On Mother’s Day, I often think of mothers I’ve known who left a great impression on me, who taught me how to be a better mother, who set an example that I will never forget, and became my heroes.
One such woman I never had the chance to meet, but will always be among my top ten mothers, is Erzsébet Szeberes. I read about her in a book, “How to Change the World” by David Bornstein. There’s a chapter entitled, “What Sort of Mother Are You?” Erzsébet Szeberes, a single parent in Hungary, changed the world for children with disabilities. It all started one day, while visiting her disabled son in an institution (at the time, there were no alternatives for housing the disabled in Hungary), a woman came up to Erzsébet and said, “What sort of mother are you? How can you leave your child in a place like this?”
Erzsébet was taken aback. She went home and couldn’t stop thinking about what the woman had said. From that moment, Erzsébet began to design a plan to take care of her son at home. First she sought out other families with disabled children. She formed a community which opened the possibility to transform her home into a place where disabled children could live, become educated, learn a trade, and function as contributing members of society. You can read more about Erzsébet’s original story here.
Over the past forty-five years that I have been a mother, I have often felt incompetent and ill-prepared. What parent hasn’t felt that way? After all, we go into the job as complete amateurs. There really is no book nor class that can prepare you for the role. I have made five attempts to try my hand at motherhood, knowing that there would be no on-the-job training, let alone an updated owner’s manual to study. Each one of my children required careful attention tailored for their own personality. You just can’t cookie-cutter the job description for motherhood.
Every time I brought a new baby home, those familiar waves of incompetency and uncertainty would wash over me. I wondered if I could really take on another twenty year project of raising a child to become a contributing member of society and more than that, to become a loving parent themselves someday.
My children are all grown up now, and despite the odds against them of having an imperfect mother, they’ve turned out just fine, astounding me with their greatness. On their birthdays, I always send a card that says how much the world needs them - and what a privilege it is for me to be their mother.