By Joe Rector

In the crook of the gutter at the corner of our deck, a robin worked diligently until she built her nest. Its position kept if out of the rain, and she found her place and began the process of hatching the eggs that held her babies. I’ve watched her for a couple of weeks now and am fascinated.

The momma bird has sat still for hours upon end. At first, she flew away every time Amy or I walked out the door, but she decided that we posed no threat and stayed put. That patience will pay off before long, and then she’ll have other duties.

Robins are protective of their babies. A mother will make itself a target as it escapes in hopes that a would-be predator follows her and leaves the newborns alone. Sometimes a mother bird buzzes a person who gets too close.

This new mom will stick around when the babies are born and will work nonstop to feed them. She will rarely eat herself because the small ones come first. At some point, she’ll teach them how to fly, and soon they will take off to a life of their own. I wonder if her heart hurts when that happens.

My mother was much like the robin. She watched out for us, and no one ever cooked better food for her children than she did. That’s why we both were round as boys. Mother spent Saturdays washing piles of clothes and ironing things.

Mother wasn’t an overtly affectionate person. She held back with floods of “I love you’s,” but we boys knew how much she cared. Sometimes she’d scratch our backs until we fell asleep. After Daddy died when Jim and I were 13 and Dal was 17, she proved how much she loved us by always providing a home for us and helping us with the cost of college.

One of Edna Rector’s favorite songs was “Til I’m Too Old to Die Young.” We lost her much too early, but the wish in that song came true for her: “Let me watch my children grow to see what they become…” Yes, I’d say that my mother was just as good a mom as that robin.

My wife Amy has always been a good mother. She gave love and care to Lacey and Dallas from the first seconds that they drew breath. To this day, she still frets over them and says prayers for their well-being.

Amy has worked since her freshman year in college. When the children were small, she would race home from across town to begin supper. In addition, she washed loads of clothes, helped them with homework, and played referee when arguments broke out.

Yes, she played disciplinarian too. A mother’s look can stop all sorts of misbehavior by children and husbands alike. Amy’s patience only stretched so far, and when its end was reached, daughter and son searched for cover.

At the same time, Amy was a good listener. She paid attention to the children when they had troubles in life or with their dad, and unlike me, she refrained from giving advice unless or until it was requested. She gave up her children, too, when they entered college and made lives of their own in other cities.

Now Lacey is a mom. She watches over Madden like a guard dog. She also encourages him to try new things and to develop interest in sports, books, and other hobbies. I watched her hackles rise not long ago during a flag football game. The other team’s coach stressed some rather unsportsmanlike things during a game, and Madden was squashed a couple of times from illegal acts by the opposing players. She set her jaw, put on her “Rector lips,” and paced up and down the sideline. That is one trait of her dad that occasionally creeps up in her, much to Lacey’s dismay. Madden is lucky to have a mom who loves him so much and who is his greatest champion.

Mother’s Day is a time to honor our moms. It’s not enough. Mothers are special folks who spend the majority of their lives taking care of their children, as well as their childlike husbands. Make sure to give yours a hug and something special. I wish I could.