A Mother’s Day tribute to ESME writer Margot Kessler
We were raised by an army of one. It was easy to see right from the beginning that compared to most of our friends’ families, we were a little bit different. While most kids that we knew had two parents, we had one. Not only that, but we had a farmers’-market-shopping, name-brand-shunning mother who loved nothing more than to drag us for early-morning hikes on holidays and remind us that she didn’t care what we did as long as we played both a sport and an instrument. It seems dizzying to think about in retrospect—that our mother, tasked with supporting two children and raising them all on her own, could take the time to enforce such silly rules. And believe me, we didn’t make it easy on her. We learned early on that with two kids and one parent, we were the majority. There were times when she’d get so angry she’d storm out, completely fed up with our stubbornness and our teenage silliness. But each time, she’d come back, newly insisting that no matter what we said, we still had to play a sport.
Getting older has given us a new appreciation of how remarkable she is to have stuck to her guns. It’s hard to believe that while worrying about bills, work, and rent, she still found the time to pack our lunches and empty the dishwasher. We weren’t great at appreciating her rules, either. Our healthy Trader Joe’s fruit leathers were exchanged many times in the lunch yard for Cheetos or potato chips. We complained our way through Hebrew school, and we were never completely ecstatic about learning the piano. But as we’ve grown up, we’ve begun to realize that, despite our best attempts, it is impossible to be unappreciative of our mother. Behind every scolding that we got, it was easy to see that she just wanted us to do as well as she knew we could. And as annoying as it was, her insistence on our continuing “schedule” gave us a foundation that made our family one of the most close-knit around. Perhaps even more important, while she always managed to sweat the small stuff, she always got the big stuff right.
Our mother is trusting and open. Unlike most teenagers, when we got into our first fender bender, got a bad grade, or needed to cry over silly boys, our mom was usually the first person we went to. It wasn’t always easy to open up to someone who thought so highly of us, but she was able to make us understand that our mistakes never defined who we were. There’s obviously no way to ever fully pay our mother back for all of the love, care, and work she has put into our lives, but we’d like to begin by telling her how grateful we are to be part of her little army.
We love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day. Every bit of who we are is because of you, and we couldn’t be more thankful.
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