A Mother’s Life: From A Child’s Perspective

Samuel Moore-Sobel is the author of the memoir Can You See My Scars? His book is available for purchase on Mascot Books and Amazon.  To read more of his work, visit www.samuelmoore-sobel.com.

A Mother’s Life: From A Child’s Perspective

Being a mother is far from easy.

Those who argue otherwise have likely never seen a mother in action. The juggling of tasks required, the never-ending energy one must summon to be present for a child. A mother’s job is never over, even once the child has been tucked into bed and kissed goodnight. Especially if that child refuses to fall into a peaceful slumber.

I know of which I speak – not from firsthand experience, mind you. My knowledge stemming from a realization of what it was like for my mother to parent me. For, I was a difficult child. Crying continually and often as a baby, keeping my mother up late into the night. Erupting into tears the moment she exited the room. I never gave her much time to herself, much less room to breathe.

Despite the challenge I posed, my mother pursued parenthood like a person vying for a promotion. She gave it her all. Each and every day, she strove to instill a set of values into each of her children. She was fair while possessing high standards. We were all expected to act in a way befitting of a Moore-Sobel, an unspoken code I often broke during my early years.

One day, in particular, stands out in my memory. At the tender age of eight, I was being especially difficult. It was a Friday afternoon, and I was a bit cranky. I was hungry for a snack; although, during those years, I was always hungry for a snack. The collar on my shirt did nothing to help matters. I wanted to rip off my clothes the second I got home, eager to change into something more comfortable. Yet today, I had forgotten to bring a change of clothes. Mom had picked me up from school, just as she did every Friday, and taken me to her piano studio for a lesson. In these settings, mom morphed into Ms. Moore. Irritated, I pounded away at the piano, regularly disobeying the instructions Ms. Moore offered along the way.

As the lesson wore on, my behavior worsened. At one point, as I attempted to move my fingers in a cohesive manner, I gave up. Crying hysterically, I wallowed in self-pity. My “piano teacher” allowed me to do so for just a few moments, before forcing me to finish the lesson. After a few more minutes, we were done, and she instructed me to go back outside and meet my “mother” at the front door.

I walked around the house, encountering a few leaves along the way. I passed the foliage and trees nearby, running towards the front of the house as fast as I could. Hoping I could beat my mother in a race to the driveway.

As usual, she won. I collapsed into the driveway the moment I saw her, nearly out of breath. She asked me how my lesson was – “you know how it was, mom, you were there.” She insisted she wasn’t, and we talked a bit more. Finally, I got to the heart of the issue.

“I am sorry,” I said, feeling rather guilty about my behavior.

She looked at me knowingly, as if she had already predicted the moment in which I would choose to apologize.

I told her why I was upset, reasoning through it as the words tumbled out of my mouth.

I told her about my hunger and my neck being irritated by the collar. I told her I needed more time between my lesson and coming home from school to rest. I was tired after a long day at school, and having a lesson only made it worse.

She asked me to sit up, and I refused. I looked at her while lying on the ground, gazing up into her eyes as I longed to be absolved of the guilt permeating my inner being. Instead of punishing me for my rebellion, she leaned down and positioned herself on the ground. She put her head against mine and talked lovingly as we sat in the middle of the driveway. Likely baffling the spying neighbors nearby.

My mother, ever the problem-solver, started proposing solutions. She said we could start my lesson an hour after my arrival home from school. She suggested that I have a snack during that time and urged me to remember a change of clothes so that I could be more comfortable as I tapped away at the keys. She tried to help me see the whole picture. “It’s not easy being a kid,” she said, quickly empathizing with the challenges faced by a young boy who rarely sat still.

Suddenly, I felt better. My mother’s words had soothed my raging emotions. She had cut to the core of my being, readily identifying the reasons behind my insolence.

A common element of the childhood experience is feeling unheard. Adults seemingly make all the important decisions from a child’s vantage point, while children typically long to provide input. My mother’s willingness to come down to my level, and see the world as I saw it, made me feel heard. Only years later would I discover that she saw parenting as a golden opportunity to take in her children’s view.

Eventually, my mother coaxed me back into the house. We had a wonderful afternoon filled with many adventures. I felt so much better, largely because I once again experienced firsthand that her love did not disappear at the first sign of misbehavior. I knew she would love me regardless if I misbehaved or refused to play the piano correctly. To my childlike mind, the piano seemed like the most important thing to her; yet, she showed me that nothing was more important to her than her children.

To the mothers who wonder whether or not the work they are doing in their children’s lives matters; to those who question whether or not their child will ever listen to the wisdom they offer; and to all who worry over whether the time and effort they expend is making any tangible difference in their children’s lives: never, ever question the value of the work you are doing. Sometimes, it takes a child to grow up before they realize the lessons inherent in your interactions; but, I assure you, the work you do now is more important than you could ever truly know.

My childhood is replete with plenty of mistakes and examples of disobedience. Through it all, my mother loved me unconditionally. When I was in an accident as a teenager and it felt as if the world was coming to an end, she was present to remind me that her love was enough for me to keep working through the adversity faced. Proving once and for all that a mother’s love is more than enough. At least it always has been for me.

I’m so grateful that Samuel was willing to share this story with us today. It’s such a great reminder that what we do as mothers, even when it seems difficult or frustrating, makes a huge difference for the future of our kids.