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Emily Morrison is an English teacher at Bucksport High School, graduate instructor and writer. 

If someone had told me years ago that my mother’s voice would throw itself from my mouth, I would’ve never believed them. Growing up, Mom and I were as different as marsupials and placentals (mammals who raise their offspring inside a pouch versus mammals who push their babies out of the womb for good). 

I was as flighty and lazy as a baby joey, and Mom was as practical and industrious as a coal miner (she’d rather not carry my dead weight around for the rest of her life).

So, you can imagine my surprise as I was complaining to her on the phone the other day when she said, “Well, I hope it’s at least sunny where you are.”

Now these words, for Mainers, aren’t that surprising. Spring isn’t always sunny. In fact, it had been downright dreary of late. Rainy days, power outages, gray skies — we’ve been living inside a song from the Mamas & the Papas since March. 

“It’s beautiful, Ma,” I said. 

The clouds had cleared, the rain had stopped and the blue sky above the burnt blueberry fields reminded me why I chose to move back to my home state 20 years ago.

But I wasn’t thinking about the landscape — I was remembering that earlier that morning I’d sent the very same words to my oldest daughter as she navigates tough classes, her boyfriend moving to Alaska for the summer and getting over a nasty spring cold.

“I hope your day is getting [sun with sun-glasses emoji],” I messaged her.

From my exercise bike, I figured I could cheer her up one last time before 45 grueling minutes of cycling stole all my joy. 

I could think of nothing reassuring to say to her short of my mother’s advice to “Pray on it,” and I’d already used Jesus-speak twice that week. There are only so many times you can tell your 19-year-old to pray before she tunes you and your well-meaning advice out for good.

As I began to pedal away my own woes (bum knee, book to finish, dogs to walk, supper to make before the other teens got back from track practice) I hoped my text brought her some measure of comfort. 

Honestly, it wasn’t until my mother’s offhand comment about the weather that I realized one of the greatest gifts of my life: mothering my children the way my mother has mothered me.

Turns out she was a marsupial after all. 

If you’re not a mama or a papa yourself, you may not get what I mean, and that’s OK. It’s not an easy thing to describe to nonparent people. All I can say is, there’s something indescribably beautiful in realizing that all your mother has ever wished for you is all you have ever wished for your children. 

No matter how different we are, no matter how many ways Mom has had to remind me to come back down to earth, to plan, to clean, to make sure my windshield gets repaired before it blows in, all she has ever wanted is what’s best for me — blue skies and warm days and happiness.

And no matter how many ups and downs my daughter goes through three states away on the other end of a long-distance line, this is all I want for her.

A few years ago, one of my dear retired teacher friends once told me that her psychologist husband once told her, “You know, it’s not your job to make sure our daughter is happy.” 

She said it helped her understand that no matter how many ways she flipped herself inside out, happiness, by itself, was a choice. That she could do all she could do, and it still may not be enough.

Happiness was up to her daughter.

And you know, the smart doctor man was probably right. Being happy takes effort, and understanding that not everything in life is always going to go your way is part of growing up.

But aren’t mothers trained to help soften the blows of aging? To soothe the colicky child? To bathe and swaddle and swing and sing them to sleep? To read bedtime stories and tuck them in and say, “If you get scared, I’ll be right down the hall.” 

How do mothers ever stop wishing we could make it all better all the time? 

We can’t. We won’t. We’ll never stop carrying you around with us or wishing that it’s at least sunny where you are.