Last month my youngest daughter asked if I would write a letter of recommendation for her.
She had applied for a scholarship geared toward young women on their own who are working on making a better life for themselves. My daughter has been putting herself through school for about six years now.
When she asked, she had me at “Hi Mom. I need a favor.”
Unfortunately, according to the letter guidelines, as her mom I’m not eligible to write a letter of recommendation.
Moms don’t count.
I can understand the reason. Moms see their children through bias-tainted eyes. A mom can look at her kid in a courtroom, clad in an orange jumpsuit, shackled in chains, accused of being an ax murdering cannibal and she’ll see the little boy who once made her a set of ceramic salt and pepper shakers in third grade and forgot to put holes in them.
The other day I watched a movie on TV about a group of teenage girls, one of whom cheated with another girl’s boyfriend.
The girls lured the cheater girl to a deserted canyon to yell at her and scare her. The cheated on girl left and the remaining ones killed the cheater girl and then framed the girl who left with the murder — the killer’s mother lied and said her daughter and the other girls were with her all day.
However, the killer’s dad, who wasn’t home so he didn’t know if his wife was lying or not, ended up being the key to the truth being revealed after he sensed that his wife was covering up for their daughter.
Right or wrong, a mom’s first instinct is to protect her young. You don’t mess with moms.
And you don’t accept letters of recommendation from them either. Not that they’re not truthful. It’s just that their truth is colored by a love that goes beyond any other type of human love.
Romantic love comes and goes, but the bond of love a mom has for her child can’t easily, if at all, be severed. It’s primal and instinctual and sometimes irrational and unreasonable.
It’s said that a mom is only as happy as her saddest child. I know that’s true in my life. If one of my kids is sad or sick or desperate, even 800 miles away my heart will hurt.
It comes with the job.
Recently, a large envelope came to the newsroom addressed to me from a mom who was deeply concerned about her daughter.
She had sent me a portion of a column I had written with the words of a song I had quoted, Michael Card’s “Joy in the Journey,” underlined.
She wrote that her daughter was going through a hard time and asked if I would download that song onto a blank CD she had enclosed and send it to her daughter. She even enclosed a CD mailer with postage stamps on it.
I don’t know if the daughter will appreciate the song or not or appreciate her mom’s heartfelt concern. Mother-daughter relationships can be fraught with all kinds of explosive tension.
Sometimes a mom’s best efforts are misinterpreted and her best intentions become suspect. On the other hand, when you hurt, you want a mom to tell you everything will be OK.
I understand that mother’s heart. I understand the mom in the movie. I’ve hurt when my kids have hurt and I’ve pounded on the doors of heaven, begging God for mercy and their relief.
Raising children is difficult and joyful, heartwarming and heartbreaking, frustrating, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. It makes moms do things they didn’t think they ever would or could do.
Moms drink water so their kids can drink the costly juice or milk; they eat the chicken wings and heels of the loaves of bread, saying they prefer them. They go without. They put their kids first. They sacrifice sleep and time and comfort. They use their shirts to wipe their kids’ runny noses. They box with both God and the devil on their kids’ behalf.
When it comes to letters of recommendation, moms don’t count, but maybe that’s because a mom’s love for her children counts too much.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at email@example.com.