Mom: Comfort Where There is No Other Comfort

It’s my mom’s birthday today, and I’m 8,000 miles away from her.

But it doesn’t feel that far, because my mom calls or emails me every day. And unlike those ungrateful children in Rent (remember Rent!?) I don’t screen my calls and roll my eyes when it’s my mom.

Come to think of it, I’m probably more likely to screen my calls and roll my eyes if it’s not my mom. But don’t let that discourage you from calling me. I’d probably love to hear from you, unless I’m in a particularly foul mood, in which case I’ll be screening my calls and spraying canned whipped cream directly into my mouth. Kidding!

It also doesn’t feel that far because my mom has already come to Malawi–even though we’ve only been here 5 months–and blessed our new home with her presence. (Read: played endless games with the children so we could get a lot of setting-up work done.)

I’ve lived outside the US for a near total of 5 years out of the past 7 in 3 (or 4) different countries, depending on how you count–but my mom has come to see us every place we’ve lived.

Just before Graeme was born...
Just before Graeme was born…

She was there when Graeme was born in Scotland, and there for his 1st birthday.

and just after...
and just after…

She was there for our nearly-unredeemable-yet-redeemed month in France.

Who's more excited about the Parisian amusement park steeplechase?
Who’s more excited about the Parisian amusement park steeplechase?

She came to Germany twice, and we only lived there for one year.


It’s amazing that my mom, who had barely traveled outside the US until she was in her 40s, now hops on planes without blinking and flies–by herself–to far-flung places, sometimes transferring multiple times and taking various trains to show up on our doorstep.

That screeching sound is my heart gasping because of the tininess! And the curls!
That screeching sound is my heart gasping because of the tininess! And the curls!

Even more amazing is that my mom, who is, apparently, immune to jet-lag, gets off the plane in Full-Grandma Mode. She’s reading stories, playing Lego, or doing word searches with Aidan and Graeme within the first hour of entering the door.


My mom and I share a love of cute animals, especially cats and goats. And the cuter members of the rodent and amphibian persuasions.

We share a love of food (of course). We’ve shared anxiety over food. We argue about the stupidest things you can imagine. We’ve had our serious conflicts, too.

As some of you know, I volunteer regularly in the labor and delivery ward of our local hospital here in Malawi. Family members aren’t allowed to accompany the laboring women, so just outside L&D, a small gathering of gogos (grandmothers) wait, concerned, with food ready for their daughters.

In L&D, what I see is typical of poor hospitals in the developing world: no sheets, no painkillers, no ice chips, no birth balls, nothing for comfort, really. And so when the women are very close to giving birth, they don’t beg for drugs, or anything, really. They just cry out, softly, amayi! Amayi!

Mama. Mama. The source of comfort when there is no other comfort.

I am grateful to my mother for being there when I call, in pain, or sadness, or frustration, or disappointment, or loneliness–or, for that matter, excitement and joy–even from 8,000 miles away. She has been my faithful friend, and I am grateful for each day we have had together, near and far.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

5 thoughts on “Mom: Comfort Where There is No Other Comfort

  1. This a beautiful gift that you have given to your mom this morning. Your love for her and to share that she is also your friend. I will add she did a great job raiseing you to be the person you are. God Bless you.

  2. A true blessing, Rachel. Not everyone has that kind of relationship with a Mother. She sounds like a treasure.

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