This story is about my mom. This memory just popped in my head the other night, and I just had to write it out and share it.
I, like most kids, would wake up often in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep.
When I was really young, my mom would sneak me into my parent’s bed and let me sleep with her, squished between her and the frame of the bed (yup it was a water bed). Other times, she’d be up folding laundry, watching Star Trek or X-files or Sliders, and I would sit with her.
One time, she was sitting in the armchair, and I climbed behind her to give her a shoulder and back massage. I was probably 7 or 8. I remember it so clearly, so vivid in my mind. The blue glow of the TV highlighting this intense moment.
I pushed into her muscles.
It felt like a wall.
She made a small noise of pain, and I silently started to cry for my mother, a mixture of deep sadness and powerful pride that my mom who worked 8 hours a day, took us to school, paid the bills, made dinner, did the dishes, helped with homework, did our laundry in the middle of the night, did so in such pain and never once complained or even shared her pain. Never took it out on us or exploded in frustration as I often did, but lived every day humble with grace, knowing the pain wasn’t going away so she just had to deal with it and didn’t want others to deal with it too.
I honestly don’t have many clear memories, but this one has always stuck with me. My mom is the strongest woman I know, I’m so inspired by her to this day. Always working to better herself, never blaming others, loving and constantly being in awe of what she has, even while in constant pain. I know I’m strong, I got that from her, but, man, I don’t think anyone can be as strong and graceful as she is.
Here are some pictures of my inspirational, strong, loving mom:
As always, we ask, “Where’s the math?”
The first math concept that comes to mind is countless. The countless times moms and dads sacrifice their sleep and time to care for their kids.
The next set of numbers that jumps out at me deals with chronic pain. This has as always been a huge issue, but has recently gotten much more attention. A 2018 article from NCCIH starts with these numbers: “Approximately 20 percent of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8 percent had high-impact chronic pain—meaning pain that limited at least one major life activity—in 2016.” It end with these numbers: “an estimated $560 billion annually in direct medical costs, lost productivity, and disability programs in the United States.” (Yes, you read that right BILLION! ). My mom, like many living with chronic pain has gone to doctor after doctor, done her own exhaustive research, been misdiagnosed more times than I can count, and still after many decades, many surgeries, many medications, many other methods, has no idea what causes her pain or how to prevent it.
When it comes to situations like his, one forgotten number is the number of people indirectly affected by chronic pain, like the children who massage their parents in the middle of the night in hope of some relief for their parent who deserves to live without pain.
And one my favorite parts of math that this story reminds me if is infinite: the infinite love that children and parents have for one another. No matter what’s going on in their lives, no matter what they’re feeling, they love each other completely, fully, without judgement, and sometimes, when we discover hard things, like that our parents live with something so difficult each day, our pride makes that love somehow grow even more.
My parents are my heroes, always were and always will be. Thanks, Mom, for showing me what a powerful woman is. I just hope I can live up to your example someday.
Also, if you haven’t heard yet, my friend Ciara and I are putting on a writing contest this month, check out all the info here.
Talk soon, friends!