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  • WILLIAM A SLOAN

A Mother Knows

I’m in awe of mothers. Always have been.



I don’t know how they do it. Dad’s are involved too, of course, and we all know that, but more often than not, the vast majority of the parenting gig lands on Mom and it’s a non-stop, 24-hours-a-day, breakfast-not-necessarily-included, no-breaks, not-about-you, always-about-them, I-just-need-a-20-minute-nap-and-a-glass-of white-wine-but-that’s-not-happening gig.

A teacher, therapist, nurse, nutritionist, friend, role model, disciplinarian, inspiration, champion, heart – all rolled into one. A great mom keeps the balloons up in the air when there’s no more helium available; keeps the dreams alive when there’s only a glimmer of hope left; shines the light from her own internal glow directly onto her kids; asks for no credit and deserves all of it; believes in the power of joy and hope and, always, love.

I know this from personal experience because my mom was all of that – capitalized, italicized and in bold print.


And I’m privileged to know many great moms and am related to many of the best.

Which brings us to Martha. The Muse’s sister, Martha – mother to three beauties, grandmother to seven wonders, and stand-in mom to countless others, including friends her own age. She has a smile that is mischief and serenity at the same time. She has an answer for everything but always lets others find their own (unless they take too long and get it really wrong). She knows that if everyone shoved their best and worst moments into a huge paper bag, we would each still reach in and seek out our own...again. She knows that coffee and chocolate solve just about everything. And she knows that, eventually, everything will be fine because, eventually, it always is, relatively speaking.


Martha has an interesting young friend – a fascinating young man who lives on the spectrum. She has helped him grow in ways, we believe, no one else could, combining patience and guidance and strength in that very natural way that born-to-be-moms have. She has befriended and championed him for 12 years now as a guest mom, so to speak, when the situation at that home began to feel overwhelming.


That’s when Martha, a latter-day Mary Poppins, who knows a thing or two about a spoon full of sugar, arrived on the scene. Once, in the early years, when overhearing “experts” say that her young friend would never be able to recite the alphabet, Martha calmly said to him in the other room, “Why don’t we sing our letters?” at which point the gifted young boy sang out, “A-B-C-D...” much to the shame and embarrassment of the “experts.” Enough said.


She was there when a family needed an experienced, black belt mom. She helped a family move on and grow through challenging circumstances. And she did it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. No spotlight, no talk show appearances, no awards that inevitably mean nothing.

But better than all of that, she was recently appreciated and rewarded with a lunch for two – a date, if you will – with her interesting young friend, who had grown so much farther than many thought possible, and always knew that this one remarkable woman, his guest mom, had his back – no doubts, no questions, just love.


They enjoyed their time together. They shared a precious conversation that many would have predicted would never be possible. The gifted young man showed his special friend a very special time. And I’m guessing that, at the end of that afternoon, it would be hard to tell who smiled more brightly and who was more proud.


A mother understands what a child does not say.

– Jewish proverb

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