Lost in Translation

An old Indian man stands on the corner of my street every afternoon between four and six.  Dressed in white linen pants and a linen tunic, he supports himself with a cane he holds in his left hand.

With his right hand, he waves at every passing car and shouts what I thought were the only two English words he knows.

“Number one!” he yells, smiling and waving his index finger.

I’ve asked about him around the neighborhood, but no one knows much.  “That man’s off his rocker,” one woman offered.  And I wondered if maybe she was right.

One beautiful afternoon, I was riding in my convertible with my mother.   We came upon the old guy several houses down from where he usually stood.  He stepped into the street in front of my car and began waving both arms in the air, the cane swinging wildly above his head.

“Number one!”  he yelled as I stopped my car.  He walked over to us, grinning with every step.

When he got to my car, he added a new word.  “Number one car!” he shouted, pointing at it.  I grinned and said back to him, “Number one car.”

He pointed to my mother.  “Number one mama.”

I nodded and said, “Yes.  Number one mama.”

And then he let me know beyond doubt that he is definitely not off his rocker.  He said, pointing to my mother, “Million dollar mama!”

I smiled and nodded and agreed with him yet again.  “Yes!   Million dollar mama!”  And with that, he backed away from my car and waved us on.

My mom, of course, was and still is a million dollar mom.  But so am I, and so is every woman who has ever slept with a wheezing child on her chest to make sure he was still breathing or kept her cool when her son’s lizard escaped in the house and ran up her pants leg.  Or listened patiently as her daughter recited the entire Little Mermaid script for the sixth time.  Or stood her ground when an angry teenage girl swore to hate her forever. Or held her tears as she left her kid at college.  Or jumped for joy when that same kid graduated on time.

See, for every bad mom on the planet, there are 683 massively guilt-ridden ones who go to bed every night insanely thinking they haven’t done enough.

The truth is, we’re all good enough.  We love our kids desperately, and that alone makes us Million Dollar Moms.  Those who can’t see it are completely off their rockers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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