The Ugly Little Donkey: a mother’s day tale

Mother’s Day is one of those occasions we can’t celebrate enough, IMO. My mom is MaeMae. You can even call her that. I’ve always thought my mom was the best mom. (I realize you probably think that about your mom, too. That’s fine. This is a category we want to have lots of winners in, right?) I’ve always appreciated her, or so I thought. It wasn’t until I had my own apartment that I realized the trashcan wasn’t going to magically empty itself. Wait, who’s done that all these years? MaeMae. (can you say “spoiled”? can you believe I actually typed that story out loud?) But it wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I truly appreciated everything she’s done for me and how hard her job really was. I was humbled by the gift of her love. I reflected with more than a little shame on all the times I was a brat or was disrespectful or unappreciative. It became very clear that my hard times were every bit as hard on her, if not more so.

She also always worked full time, so she had long days. I remember her saying “I don’t have time to be sick.” I’d think, “How can she say that? Everyone is sick sometimes.” But you know what? She never was. It was as though she made up her mind not to be, and so she wasn’t. Pretty amazing.

Her job didn’t end when I grew up, either. Babysitter? Heck yea! Planter of flowerpots? My mother has the most beautiful green thumb. Me? Not so much. It wasn’t all fun and games, though. As we all know, problems can get a lot bigger when you’re an adult. She helped me through some tough ones.

MaeMae taught me some hard lessons, too. The hardest lesson was how to take care of my father when he got dementia, how to let him go, how to grieve the loss of a life-long, beloved partner, and how to go on living.

2021 hasn’t been kind to MaeMae. Apparently, she found the time to be sick at the age of … oh, heck no, I’m not telling you her age. (Hint: rhymes with schmatey-schmix) She has faced this challenge like she’s faced everything else: with sheer determination and infinite optimism. Her treatments are but a checklist that she’s working steadily through. Each one she finishes is a step to putting this behind her and getting back to normal life. Even when she doesn’t feel that great, she says, “I will not let this beat me!” And up she rises.

Back to that ugly little donkey. You were wondering, weren’tcha. As I’ve “Driven Miss MaeMae” to this appointment or that, we pass a pasture near her house. It is home to a couple grown horses, a handful of beautiful colts, and one very ugly little donkey. But, as we know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. MaeMae looks at him and says, “Look at that cute little donkey! I just love him. He looks at his friends and thinks, ‘I’m just as beautiful as they are!'”

To MaeMae, it’s about perspective and it’s about attitude. She could see herself as ill, but instead she sees herself as someone who has to cross a few things off their to-do list before all is normal again. When times are tough, she could accept defeat. She could choose not to get up. But, she summons all her strength and all her will and she gets up. She could look out the car window and admire the pretty ponies. Instead, she admires the one who believes he’s just as pretty as all the others. Because if you believe, you can do anything you want.

Happy Mother’s Day to MaeMae, my amazing mama. I love you!


  1. Jamie Nelson

    I’m tearing up, Lynn. What a beautiful post about your phenomenal mother. Miss Mary, as I grew up to know her, is one of the strongest, most loyal and funniest people I’ve ever known.

    Liked by 1 person

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