Your Mom ‘n’ ‘Em

Last week. I saw a young mother in the supermarket parking lot. Her kids were fussing. She had a toddler in a stroller who was howling.

Her attention was on the screaming baby, so she didn’t notice her fugitive shopping buggy rolling downhill.

I did. So I jogged after it and caught the cart before it smacked the door of a very white, very shiny, very BMW.

She gave me a quick smile and a frantic “Ohmygodthankyousomuch.”

The baby screamed another chorus of misery.

Then the mother buckled her three kids into an economy car—a vehicle with rust around the wheel-wells. When she did, she spilled her purse. It was one of those big beach-bag deals.

God love her.

She threw her head into her hands while her stuff went flying everywhere. She stayed like that a little while. I don’t know whether she was crying, but she certainly deserved to.

A few random strangers and I helped gather her things in the parking lot. I chased a runaway lipstick tube and mid journey, I was immediately lost in a time warp.

Because, you see, long ago I knew a woman like her. A single woman, a widow, who raised two kids on a shoestring, and struggled for every buffalo nickel.

The same woman who taught me to spell my name. To tie my shoes. And how to yes-ma’am and yes-sir my elders. A woman I called Mama.

I will never forget when Mama met a young Latina woman at her Wednesday Bible study when I was a child.

The Spanish-speaking woman was single, she had a partially deaf son, she lived in a dilapidated apartment, she worked many jobs. The woman had no car, and you won’t get far in a world of interstates and overpasses without tires. Nobody knew this better than Mama.

So Mama made friends with the woman. She carried the young woman to and from Bible study. They laughed together. Cooked together. They hung out. And sometimes when the young woman thought she and my mother were all alone, she would weep.

One spring morning Mama took me for a ride. We rode dirt roads until we landed in a salvage yard. An automobile cemetery on the edge of the Earth.

There were miles of brokedown vehicles surrounded by weeds and barbed-wire fences. The dead vehicles were organized by era.

A man in overalls greeted Mama, somewhere between the 1950’s and ‘60s. He led us to a three-sided barn where he kept an early ‘70s Ford Bronco—with corroded fenders and a spider-web cracked windshield.

Mama haggled the price for nearly 20 minutes. My mother was as shrewd as a Texan horse trader when it came to spending money. She used every milligram of her feminie wiles, batting her eyelashes, giggling often.

When the deal was done, Mama saved big bucks and handed him a wad of cash. In exchange, he begrudgingly handed her the keys.

Mama drove the old thing home and parked it in our driveway. That night, Mama made a big supper, she invited the woman and her family over.

When we finished eating, Mama took the woman outside and gave her a set of keys. She did not make a production out of the event. In fact, my mother hardly said anything more than “Here.”

The woman covered her mouth and gasped. “Dios mío.”

For as long as I live, I’ll never forget those wonderful foreign words.

Together, the two women cried for a long time. It was the hard kind of sobbing. The kind that comes from the belly. My mother never spoke of that night again. And whenever we bring it up, she changes the subject and asks how the Braves are hitting this season.

So anyway, a few of us strangers helped the young mother in the supermarket parking lot. We gathered her spilled things—her lipstick, a clot of sticky Lifesaver mints, her cracked cellphone.

Her kids were still hollering. She seemed embarrassed by it all.

She was too stressed to even thank her new friends. She simply drove away and God knows where she’s going, or what time she’ll get supper on the table.

I don’t know what her struggles are, or how she makes ends meet. I don’t know whether she feels like a failure, or whether she cries when nobody is looking.

But I know one thing: It’s hard work being a mother in this unstable world. And anyone who does it, and does it sincerely, deserves a lot more than one Sunday in May. They deserve the universe, the unabashed love of ten thousand lifetimes. Or at the very least, a Ford Bronco.

Dios mío.

Happy Mother’s Day.


  1. Greg Faber - May 9, 2021 7:04 am

    Only someone who has lived the life would understand the depth of soul your mama had. Always going the extra extra mile. Always read TV with a helping hand from a pocketbook often almost empty but open. A woman who knew the true definition of love and who held her kids to a standard that would raise them into solid citizens. Mamas like ours, who gave what they had because it was the right thing to do. Thanks a million for your thoughts this Mother’s Day.

  2. throughmyeyesusa - May 9, 2021 7:07 am

    I raised two sons. They were the joy of my life and they have done us proud; both employed, married, straight as arrows, without trouble with the law or substance abuse….and one of them has accomplished this in spite of doing it from a wheelchair, in ungodly pain, every day of his life since he he turned 22. Nonetheless, I have been sorely disappointed by them both due to their desertion of the American values and Christian beliefs they were raised with.

    We live far distant from both, an ocean away, and I was feeling like a complete failure, contemplating how lonely my old age will be with no one to turn to, no one who truly cares about me, values what I value, or cares about the things that were important in my fondly remembered young motherhood…

    And just as I was feeling the lowest, the most certain that this would be the Mother’s Day I might not even get a phone call, and certainly no more….
    TWO of the most spectacular flower arrangements ever seen by any mother in America were delivered within minutes of each other! I’m left filled with joy and gratitude, thinking two thoughts; maybe I’ll forget their politics and remember our shared love and……..
    I will let go and let God worry about their relationship with Him.

    • sparkerlpc - May 9, 2021 12:42 pm

      Hugging you from over here in Texas. Hoping that your sons will come back to the Lord, perhaps with their own, hard-won understanding of and love for Him. One of the very hardest things these days is showing that you love someone so very much, when you don’t agree with them about things that are important to you both. Perhaps those bouquets were meant to convey exactly that. Have a blessed Mother’s Day <3

    • Susan Parker - May 9, 2021 12:53 pm

      Dear Throughmyeyesusa, I’m not sure where my reply to you went, but I’ll try again. I am hugging you from over here in Texas, and hoping that your sons either have or will come to their own understanding of and love for the Lord. I believe you are right to leave that in His hands.
      It seems these days the hardest thing to do is to show someone that you love them so very much, when you don’t agree with them about such important things as faith and patriotism. I believe those two bouquets were meant to convey exactly that. Have a blessed Mother’s Day <3

  3. Eva Denise Lantrip - May 9, 2021 7:30 am

    Thank you for giving us this view of your mother. What a fine and generous woman.

  4. Leslie in NC - May 9, 2021 10:36 am

    Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day, mama.

  5. Debbie - May 9, 2021 10:48 am

    Sean- Thank you for a lovely start to my Mother’s Day! What a wonderful post.

  6. joan moore - May 9, 2021 11:25 am

    Sean, I cried for that young woman and then I cried because I had a kind and loving Mother like yours. Love to all of the lovely women in your life.

  7. Annie Sommers - May 9, 2021 11:42 am

    Thank you Sean. You always make my day.

  8. Joann - May 9, 2021 12:08 pm

    That woman you describe could have been me 45 years ago. Thank you.

  9. Farris Jones - May 9, 2021 12:15 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day to All 😊 Hope it’s a blessed one !

  10. Nancy Crews - May 9, 2021 12:23 pm

    ❤your writing. Mothers are from God!

  11. Suzanne Moore - May 9, 2021 12:31 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to your mother and to all of the mothers struggling , sometimes weeping, but always loving. God bless you, Sean, and God bless us every one.

  12. Jan - May 9, 2021 12:33 pm

    Love this! Thank you, Sean!

  13. Sidney - May 9, 2021 1:16 pm

    ¡Dios mio! Thank you to you and your mama. My heart rejoices to read this.

  14. jodim112 - May 9, 2021 1:48 pm

    Your words touch the heart of every mother today–

  15. Steve Scott - May 9, 2021 2:52 pm

    Sean of the South has become as essential as coffee and the paper each morning. Can’t start my day without it. Your writing goes right to the heart, so thank you for being you. And for finding Jamie too. Her light is reflected in you. What a great team!

  16. Virginia Russell - May 9, 2021 3:16 pm

    Thank you!

  17. Christina - May 9, 2021 3:34 pm

    Dios mío Sean. Salud a tu mamá!

  18. Linda Moon - May 9, 2021 6:52 pm

    I was raised by a Mom and ’em…..mios mama y ellas. They were Mama and lots of aunts. Your Mama’s raising of you and her kindness to another is a gift from su Dios. And the gift of kindness was passed to you, teller of our stories!

  19. MAM - May 9, 2021 6:55 pm

    Thanks, Sean, for a lovely Mother’s Day present.

  20. Cathy Moss - May 9, 2021 7:41 pm

    When I think of your mother with her own life struggles and what she did for her friend, I am so touched and I would love to meet her. No wonder you turned out so well. An angel raised you and then you married another angel. Lucky you. Do you realize how many hearts that you touch?❤️

  21. Suzi - May 9, 2021 7:43 pm

    You see the mundane and and speak its importance !!!

  22. Sonya Tuttle - May 9, 2021 8:50 pm

    You comment on your mother in law and have photos of her on Instagram, so perhaps your own mother has passed away? I don’t recall reading any current comment about her, always in retrospect. She had a difficult life for sure, but her legacy speaks every day. You and your sister speak for her in volumes, speaking words of wisdom. Your daily blog is always a highlight of the day. The only way I know to thank you is by buying your books! Thank you. Bless your mom, a heroine for sure!

  23. Melanie - May 9, 2021 9:11 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day to all who never had children but have cared for, loved and nurtured others (including critters) ❤️

  24. Donna Bell - May 9, 2021 10:18 pm

    You most certainly have a gift Sean. Lovely and so true. Thank you for sharing with us.

  25. Ann Padgett - May 9, 2021 11:20 pm

    Amen, Brother!

  26. Kim Williams - May 10, 2021 2:12 am

    Perfect, Sean. Thank you.

  27. Sherry - May 12, 2021 2:03 pm

    I can empathize with the young woman in the parking lot. I had 4 children under the age of 5 at one time. We moved out in the country where I was close to my parents. I would go out to their house, let my kids run with abandon; then load them into the car, head home for a nap and take a few minutes for myself. This particular day they were all fussy and I was rushing. Unfortunately, I had thrown my purse on top of the car. Evidently, it made the first turn but not the second. I never saw it leave the top. I made it home and realized the purse was missing. It took 5 or 6 hours. I got a phone call from a good Samaratin who had spotted it on the road and called me. The young mother that you spoke of got home I am sure thanked God for all of you who helped. I know I did


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