Columnists

Butch says moms are ‘natural worriers’

Did your mother stay up late and wait for you to come home when you spent a night out with friends? Yes, that’s what I thought . . . you see, moms are “worriers.” Your mom may have worked all day, and she may have been completely worn out, but chances are she had the “mother duck syndrome.” She just could not sleep until all of her little ducklings were safely back in the nest. Your dad also worried about you, but he likely hit the sack at his normal time, while poor ol’ mom sat in her chair . . . working on a craft, or watching TV, or reading a book . . . maybe dozing off a few times, but steadfastly waiting to hear the sound of the family car pulling into the driveway, the key in the lock, or see the kitchen light come on as you scrounged around for your nighttime snack upon returning home. Only then could she head to the bedroom to get a few hours sleep.

My Mom was like that. I suspect your mother was like that, too. My mother did that for many, many years, as there were five of us kids for her to worry about. In high school, I can remember coming home late from being out with friends, or on a date, and seeing Mom sitting in her favorite chair . . . sewing, or doing artwork on a student’s “senior cords.” Sometimes she would have the TV on, but not really watching a show . . . likely sitting there fretting about what trouble, predicament, or accident that could occur. At the time, I thought to myself that she was just overly concerned and maybe didn’t trust me 100 per cent. But later on, when my wife and I had kids of our own, I began to understand. As a police officer, I worked at night during most of my career. I saw the predicaments and accidents that could happen to teenagers, so I had concerns, but I tended to be an optimist. But if our kids were out late with friends, my wife stayed up, or lay in bed wide awake, until they were safely home. Yes, she worried. She still does.

And now it isn’t just our kids, now all grown, who she worries about, it’s also their spouses and our nine grandkids. Worrying about your children and family must be one of the prime requirements of motherhood.

There is a poem entitled “Mother Watch,” written by Edgar Guest in 1919, which Johnny Cash also recorded in a song . . .

“She never closed her eyes in sleep till we were all in bed; On party nights till we came home she often sat and read. We little thought about it then, when we were young and gay, How much the mother worried when we children were away. We only knew she never slept when we were out at night, And that she waited just to know that we’d come home alright.”

“She had to know that we were safe before she went to rest; She seemed to fear the world might harm the ones she loved the best. And once she said, ‘when you are grown to women and to men, perhaps I’ll sleep the whole night through, I may be different then.’ And so it seemed that night and day we knew a mother’s care, That always when we got back home, we’d find her waiting there.”

“Then came the night that we were called to gather ’round her bed; ‘The children are all with you now,’ the kindly doctor said. And in her eyes there gleamed again the old-time tender light, that told she had been waiting just to know we were all right. She smiled the old familiar smile, and prayed to God to keep . . . us safe from harm throughout the years . . . and then she went to sleep.”

My mother had a stroke at age 74, and she resided in a nursing home for four years. Each time I visited her, she never talked about her problems, but she would always ask if everyone was safe and healthy and getting along OK. One morning in 2002 my brother called and told me that Mom had suddenly passed away. I didn’t get to see her at the end and tell her goodbye, like I did with my Dad when he passed away.

So to my mother . . . I know why you stayed up late and worried . . . and waited for us to be safely back home . . . You loved us and you cared . . . Thanks, Mom . . .