Enjoy this beautiful tribute written by Cypress Cove resident Donna Miceli in 1974 when she was writing a weekly column for a local newspaper in Buffalo, New York. Donna is a contributing writer and editor for Cove Currents magazine, a quarterly publication for residents.
When I was a baby, Mother was a blurry, disembodied face; a warm gentle touch; the smell of milk, cereal, applesauce and baby powder; and a quiet voice softly chanting, “Don’t cry baby, Mommy’s here.”
When I was a toddler, Mother was a comfortable, secure face—sometimes frowning, sometimes laughing, usually smiling; a strong hand helping me to cross the street or climb the stairs, and guiding me firmly away from danger; the smell of perfume, peanut butter and homemade chocolate cake; a sharply critical, “No, no, don’t touch!” or gently assuring, “Don’t cry, honey, Mommy will kiss it better.”
As I grew older, and less dependent, I saw Mother through different eyes. I saw her as a person unlike the mothers of my friends—prettier than many; more patient than some, but often more demanding; and not always as talented or as understanding as I thought other mothers were. But she was always there when I needed her—waiting to brush away the tears and ease the pains of growing with a warm embrace or a comforting word. “Don’t cry, sweetheart, there will be another dance.”
I thought I knew what it was to be a mother—to cook, sew, wash, iron, clean house, attend PTA meetings and Brownie field trips, help with homework, administer first aid and words of advice, though not always welcomed—but I didn’t really know. I didn’t know about the joy of watching an infant sleeping, knees up, mouth moving in a slow sucking motion. I didn’t know the excitement of watching a toddler’s first, faltering steps, or the feelings of remorse while watching that toddler sleeping like an angel after a day filled with scoldings—to kiss a cheek and utter a silent vow that tomorrow there would be no sharp words.
I didn’t know what it was like to lie awake and worry through each childhood illness, no matter how slight; to watch with breathless anxiety, which dare not be uttered, through each painful learning experience—riding a bike, roller skating, crossing the street unaided—to smile bravely, through misty eyes, as each child goes off to school, alone, for the first time; to want desperately to protect them from all the hurts, large or small, of growing.
I didn’t know that a mother’s anger is usually a “cover up” for fear and worry; that mothers often cry behind closed doors after administering punishment; that a mother’s demands are not made easily—it’s much simpler to make none—but with love, and the knowledge that a child who cannot meet the simple demands of family life cannot survive in the complex adult world.
I knew none of these things, but I’m a mother now…and I’m learning.