The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

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A great mom I know loves tulips.
A great mom I know loves tulips.

Many aspects of the human experience unite us.

Commonalities. Things we all share. Our DNA is similar. Our biology and physical make-up is similar. And our emotional reactions to what happens to us are similar.

The world tries to tell us how that person over there isn’t like you and me. And if you believe the lie, hate and disconnection are perpetuated.

Don’t believe the lie. We’re not so different.

We all have moms.

Everyone not made in a laboratory has a mom. For a variety of reasons, a small percentage of us don’t know our biological mothers. But I hope even people in those situations are able to take a step back and be thankful for what their mothers endured to bring them into the world. And to the people who helped fill the maternal void in their lives.

‘Mother’ is a Verb

Planned or unplanned, your mom once looked at a penis and thought: “Sure. You can put that in there.”

That’s courageous.

Planned or unplanned, your mom took a pregnancy test or visited a doctor and found out: “Whoa. I’m pregs. I’m totally freaking out right now.”

Then, for eight or so months after figuring it out, she volunteered—literally the inside of her—as a guest room for you to spend the first almost-year of your life.

The physical AND chemical composition of her body forever changed from that moment on. She voluntarily AND involuntarily changed in order for you to feel like the center of the universe.

She sacrificed the only identity she ever knew from her earliest memories to the moment she learned she was pregnant in order to change from a me-first being to a you-first being.

It’s a level of bravery and selflessness that I imagine only a mother can truly understand.

To all current and future moms: Thank you.

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”

– Oscar Wilde

Happy Mother’s Day

To my stepmom:

During those rare times I was around throughout my childhood, my father showed blatant favoritism toward me over your daughters. But you never showed blatant favoritism toward your daughters over me.

You treated me as your third child every day I can remember knowing you. Thank you for teaching me that blood and genetics are not a prerequisite for being family.

I love you.


To my grandmother:

You gave birth to eight children. My mom was the first. Thank you for my mom. Thank you for making my objectively dysfunctional childhood not feel at all dysfunctional. Thank you for teaching me what love, kindness, patience and forgiveness looks like. Those are gifts that keep on giving.

I love you and I’m so sorry if you ever read this and find out about all of the bad things I say, do and think about. But I know you’ll love me anyway. Thanks for that.


To my ex-wife:

I’m not brave enough to type what I sometimes think and feel. Too much fear and pride and fuckness.

It’s a mad world. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect us from it.

Thank you for our son. I can’t explain how I feel when he’s not here. Maybe you feel it, too. I can’t express how much I appreciate not only being able to trust you to love and care for him, but admire your deep dedication to making his life beautiful.

He is the most-important thing to ever happen to us. Thank you for all you gave. Thank you for all you give. Happy Mother’s Day.


To my mom:

Maybe you’ll stumble on this one day, mom. Maybe you’ll read every post and be absolutely appalled by some of the things rattling around my brain. After all, we’ve never exactly seen eye to eye on some of these “life” things.

Maybe you’re disappointed. Maybe even ashamed.

But maybe you’re proud, too. Maybe you see your son—misguided as you may occasionally consider him—doing his teeny tiny part in trying to make this whole being-alive thing the best experience possible.

I hope you’re proud, mom. At least a little bit. I hope you know how desperately I want to be one of the good guys, and what a huge factor you were and are in instilling that desire.

You’ve put me first for 35 years. You’ve dedicated your entire life to your children. When you’re alone with your thoughts, I pray you feel it has been worth it.

Thank you for my life.

I’m trying. And failing.

And then trying again.

I hope you think that’s enough.

I am so sorry for every moment I made you feel like I take your love and sacrifice for granted.

I hope that never happens again. Because you didn’t just give a lot. You gave everything.

I love and appreciate you more than I can express with a keyboard.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom.

“Men are what their mothers made them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

19 thoughts on “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”

    1. Well said.

      Happy (stateside) Mother’s Day to her (and if you’re a mother, to you as well, Elaine)!

      1. Thank you Matt, from both of us. It isn’t Mother’s Day here in Britain (we had ours in March) but I had a lovely day (& I think my mum did too).

  1. It’s been awhile since I could say good words to my mom. She died in 2001, at the age of 67– cancer got her. But– I can say that my memories of her are good memories, so that’s something anyway.

    1. It is something. In fact, if we live long enough, I think that’s the best-case scenario. I’m sorry if the day is a painful reminder for you. Our parents’ lives are lives worth celebrating.

  2. Beautiful Matt. My sons birth was on Mothers Day he is the best gift ever. We just celebrated his 16th birthday and my 16th Mothers Day. It has been a special weekend.

    1. Thank you. Happy birthday to that young man! I hope both of you enjoyed the time. Sounds like you did. 🙂

    1. Thank you. I’m so sorry you didn’t get to spend yesterday with her. But I’m so glad she was the kind of mother you miss on Mother’s Day.

      She did a great job with you. You bring much light to others. Thus, she brings much light to others.


      Thank you for saying hi this morning. Hope you have a good Monday.

  3. Motherhood is complicated. We do so much, we do so little, we do so much badly, but we do so much!
    But I have to imagine that your mother is incredibly proud to have someone trying to figure out the world and his place in it, even if she sees that world differently. You do it beautifully.

  4. Hey Matt, great post as usual. Could you tell me the book you mentioned under the “95 percent” post? I know its probably somewhere on the site. But thank you so much for your openness

    1. Thank you, sir.

      I think you mean this one, titled “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.”

      I think if every man and woman read this book before marriage AND digested the information AND then chose love even during the tough times, then almost no one would get divorced. Hope this links for you…

  5. My mom is 76 and I attribute all my good qualities to her but she exasperstes be at times. Recently I had her come to live with me because she’s experiencing some issues that older people sometime deal with. I love her with all my heart and soul and even on the worse days I’m grateful for her and the life and love she gave to me. Thank you for this post!

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Matt Fray

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