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The power of motherhood

I lost my mother too soon, in my opinion. Wilma Wave Dover left us nearly 30 years ago, and though I miss her on a regular basis, the fragrance of her loving influence lingers.

In researching for this column I found a list of “10 Greatest Moms” throughout history. The list included the well-known — social activists, humanitarians, one physicist, a lawyer and an actress/philanthropist. I’m not sure who chose the names or what criteria they used. No doubt they had accomplished notable, public feats.

Most of their accolades rippled far beyond their own kids. But who’s to say whether some obscure soul in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, shouldn’t have made the list for a quiet nobility. Greatness happens during the common day. It can’t be measured, but the long-lasting effect remains.

Today, I honor the millions of moms and grandmothers who regularly make a difference in the life of a child as a matter of grace. You are legion. Never underestimate the influence you have on yours, even as they may hug you one minute and sneer and walk away the next. A mom’s example is power — for good or not. Young minds and the maps of their own journey are shaped by the love they’re shown from parents.

My mom took great pride in keeping our house and raising her children to see and learn from the love God gives. I’m still learning how counter-intuitive that can be. She instilled in me the power of words and the wonder of story by reading to me each day.

We walked to the library when I was almost too small to tote home the lug of books with which to surround myself. I can recall the gravitas of my first library card when I was old enough to understand the responsibilities that went with it. Not that I would dream of defacing a book — I treated them like the treasure they held.

Currently I’m reading “Will,” the autobiography of Will Smith, the actor. Side bar: This is not a book I would normally choose for myself. My young nephew recommended it, and I’m glad I stepped off my usual track. It’s an excellent read and helps me begin to understand what life has shown someone different from me.

It made me ask, what else am I missing by staying too close to home? Will talked about his family and how his mom and grandma played vital roles in his young formation, and how he felt cowardly as a child when he was fearful of protecting his mother. Some of it brought tears to my eyes. I’d like to share a nugget from the book, where Will describes his first performance, a piano recital at the urging of his grandma, Gigi.

“Wait, Gigi, no, I can’t, I’m not ready,” I said. “I’m going to mess up the notes.”

She smiled. “Aw, baby,” she said, gently caressing my cheek. “God doesn’t care if you hit the notes right.”

“The way the piano was situated onstage, I had eye contact with Gigi the whole time ... Morris Albert’s ‘Feelings’ was ringing through Resurrection Hall for an audience of 200 people. But I was only playing for one person. And the look on her face ... I still struggle to describe it. ... I can only say that I have been chasing that look in the eyes of every woman I’ve ever loved since.”

That’s the power of love.

With moms, love and greatness are poured out in countless acts of arcane selflessness. This world doesn’t applaud humility. Mom was humble and infinitely patient. I often wish I could be that little girl again, to lay my head in her lap and feel her soothing hand. I wish I had done more for her. She is at the top of my list.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the influential moms, expectant moms or those about to be moms, along with grandmas and those who fill in for the orphaned. Children are gifts of life itself, even when they appear wrapped in inconvenience.

Peggy Dover is a freelance author/writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.