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Role of a lifetime

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It’s inconceivable that nature could have produced a more demanding role.

By nurturing offspring within her own body, the mother is crucial in bringing forth new life. And when the draining birthing process is completed, she provides her young their first taste of food.

She bathes her offspring, nurses them, helps them begin to walk, cleanses wounds, teaches them how to obtain food and guides them in learning about the wider world. She watches over her young when they sleep and puts herself in harm’s way to protect them.

The mother is key to creating a safe and comfortable environment for her offspring to develop. She maintains peace among siblings and disciplines her kids when they’re out of line. A mother delights in seeing her young mature but mourns when they are gone.

These qualities of motherhood are universal among most living beings. There is something about the maternal instinct that makes a mother so uniquely qualified for the tasks she faces.

But because we are more intellectually and emotionally complex than other creatures, humans take motherhood more seriously.

Daughters, for example, find particular satisfaction when they take Mom on a shopping spree. It’s a bonding experience like few others.

And no matter where they end up living or how they’re making ends meet, sons have a moral obligation to call their mother regularly to see how she’s faring. Apron strings are never so short that guys can’t check in with Mom once in a while.

Today, Americans across the country are celebrating Mother’s Day. This is a time when we honor our mothers for all the extraordinary ways they have enriched our lives. We shower our moms with gifts, flowers and cards as a way — however small — to express our love and appreciation.

Conveying how much motherhood means to us is no easy task. It was our mothers who brought us into the world in the first place, so how can you repay such a debt?

In the end, we cannot. But this doesn’t matter. For just as the many functions that mothers perform can be exhausting, in total they are even more rewarding.

What greater joy can a mother experience than to bask in the company of her adoring family? Could there possibly be richer returns for a lifetime of effort and struggle?

This occasion may be a minor attempt on our part to thank these wonderful women for all they’ve done. But it’s meaningful for moms everywhere to receive such love. It’s this very link between life-giver and offspring that makes motherhood so powerful and fulfilling.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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