By Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) in If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?, 1978. Bombeck wrote about homemaking, motherhood, and marriage. Her syndicated column, “At Wit’s End,” appeared in more than 900 newspapers. She wrote 12 books, nine of which made The New York Times’ Bestsellers List.
July 2, 1984 Time magazine cover
Many kids think they have mean mothers. Some mothers are mean. But many times, what is percieved by children to be meaness is, of course, deep and tender parental love that is merely insisting on necessary boundaries and limits. Erma Bombeck describes such love in this little piece called “A Mother’s Love.”
Someday, when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a mother, I’ll tell them…
I loved you enough to bug you about where you were going, with whom and what time you would get home.
I loved you enough to insist you buy a bike, that we could afford to give you, with your own money.
I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover your hand picked friend was a creep.
I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your bedroom, a job that would have taken me 15 minutes.
I loved you enough to make you return a Milky-Way– with a bite out of it– to the drug store and to confess “I stole this.”
I loved you enough to say, “Yes, you can go to Disney World on Mother’s Day.”
I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, disgust, and tears in my eyes.
I loved you enough not to make excuses for your lack of respect or your bad manners.
I loved you enough to admit that I was wrong and ask for your forgiveness.
I loved you enough to ignore “what every other mother” did or said.
I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall, hurt, and fail.
I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your own actions, at 6, 10, or 16.
I loved you enough to figure you would lie about the party being chaperoned, but forgave you for it… after discovering I was right.
I loved you enough to shove you off my lap, let go of your hand, be mute to your pleas and insensitive to your demands… so that you had to stand alone.
I loved you enough to accept you for what you are, and not what I wanted you to be.
But most of all, I loved you enough to say ‘No’ when you hated me for it. That was the hardest part of all.”
MORE FROM ERMA BOMBECK:
Have you any idea how many children it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen? Three. It takes one to say ‘What light?’ and two more to say ‘I didn’t turn it on.’
Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids.
Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.
In two decades I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.
Sometimes I can’t figure designers out. It’s as if they flunked human anatomy.
When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.
A child needs your love most when he deserves it least.
I brought children into this lousy, mixed-up world because when you love someone and they love you back, the world doesn’t look that lousy or seem that mixed up.
Grandparenthood is one of life’s rewards for surviving your own children.
You show me a boy who brings a snake home to his mother and I’ll show you an orphan.
When the going gets tough, the tough make cookies.
Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.
There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.
The other night my husband took me to dinner. We were having a wonderful time when he remarked, “You can certainly tell the wives from the sweethearts.” I stopped licking the stream of butter dripping down my elbow and replied, “What kind of crack is that?”
If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.
Laugh now, cry later.
Bill and Erma Bombeck family, 1958
Proverbs 12:24b — The one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Proverbs 3:11-12 — My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father discplines the son he delights in.
Proverbs 22:6 — Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
A PRAYER FOR THE FAMILY:
Almighty God, according to thy mercy relieve our distress and sorrow. In thy goodness, spare us and our children. Grant that in our homes we may keep and foster thy heavenly Word. O thou who art good, kind, and bountiful, have compassion on us. Grant us the necessities of daily life and keep our families securely in thy care, so that we may honor you forever and ever. Amen.
–Philip Melancthon, reformer (1497-1560)