Look Down at Your Bellybutton: A Mother’s Day Tribute

One of my kids wasn’t being terribly kind the other day. My wife was the one on the receiving end. Let me state unequivocally here that this short essay is not meant to be a knock on my kids. I love my little anti-authoritarians.

Any parent can tell you, no matter how sweet and angelic your child can be at times, other times they can be miniature tyrants or a fire-breathing Godzilla, Jr. awakened by nuclear testing wreaking havoc on Tokyo — or at the least, the confined walls of your home.

In an effort to diffuse the negative energy circulating in the room, I said to my kiddo, “Look down at your bellybutton. That’s a reminder that for nine months you were connected to your mom. There was a tube there leading to a thing called a placenta, which allowed you to eat, receive oxygen, and grow. When your mom ate, nutrients passed from the placenta through the tube into you and nourished you. That shallow hole in your stomach is a reminder that for nine months you lived inside your mom’s belly. You lived inside her.”

In terms of extinguishing an out of control wildfire in the process of torching everything in its path (what I call a tantrum), that was the best I’ve ever managed. All the negativity permeating the room was sucked out as if by a vacuum.

It was a modern day miracle that took me more than a decade to discover — why, universe?

Today is Mother’s Day, a holiday honoring our mothers and mother figures all around the world. It’s a day to show our appreciation for all the love, hard work, and sacrifices our mothers made for our families — many of which go unnoticed.

I think firstly of my mom, my wife, my sister, my grandmother, and my aunts. But also my friends’ moms growing up and my friends growing up who are now moms.

But let’s be real. Every day should be Mother’s Day. I mean, we’re talking about the people who carried us in their wombs for nine months, went through excruciating labor to bring us into the world, and then spent countless sleepless nights taking care of us. That deserves a medal of honor, or at least a lifetime supply of coffee.

As a dad who gets his own holiday here in a month, I’m here to tell you the entire existence of mankind would have been snuffed out before a year if we were biologically wired to carry a baby inside us for nine months. Our fate would have been sealed. The monkeys and birds and dolphins and ants and mosquitoes would rule Planet Earth. I can’t even handle back pain carrying my own belly. And heartburn, girl, don’t get me started.

So, today, look down at your bellybutton — past the lint — and remember your mom screaming at the top of her lungs at your minor league baseball game, “Let’s go, Jeff!”

Or lathering your tomato red body with aloe vera because you refused, despite her request, to put on sunscreen the first day at the beach.

Or smiling ear to ear and squeezing you until your head about pops off the shoulders at your college graduation.

Whatever memory you have, remember it — today, tomorrow, and so on and so forth, because that scar on your belly is a reminder.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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5 replies on “Look Down at Your Bellybutton: A Mother’s Day Tribute”

Hi Jeff! I read all your posts and I love them all!! I love your writing style!!!

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