In My Mother’s Eyes


My Mother And Me – 1950

My mother’s birthday today has prompted me to republish this photo I originally posted on May 8, 2011.

Although my mother was, by far, the predominant force in raising me, I can come up with three stories about my father and me for every episode that features Mom. I think that apparent paradox is the consequence of my childhood being flooded with interactions with my mother that formed the background for all my own activities and the matrix of my inner life. On the other hand, whatever happened between my Dad and me stands out in relief, bracketed by periods during which I was, if not ignored, certainly not in his spotlight.

I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t in my mother’s spotlight.

The photo of my mother and me atop this post, discovered yesterday while excavating a section of Mom’s collections, goes far toward explaining this phenomenon.

Standard psychoanalytic theory holds that one’s sense of self originates in the infant’s awareness of the mother’s unconditional (and, indeed, unreasonable) empathic care radiating from her eyes. The mother provides a nascent identity for the child, which, if all goes well, is, during one’s childhood, adapted and internalized as a psychological element independent of the external world.

Now, take a look at that photo. That young woman, who has recently become a mother while living in a tiny, poorly insulated, inexpertly constructed home in rural southwest Missouri in 1950, helping her husband try to make a living selling used cars, and tending to the remnants of their failed farm, should, by rights, be as upset as the squalling child in her arms. Instead, she gazes upon him with undiluted, unmixed approval, acceptance, and love.

And I grew up knowing intuitively that, regardless of my mistakes, errors, or misbehaviors, my mother continued to gaze upon me with undiluted, unmixed approval, acceptance, and love.

So, I have no wonderful stories about my mother today, not because my history with her is empty of touching moments but because that history is too rich and interlocked to provide convenient post-size chunks of inspiration. It is, instead, the kind of history a son needs with his mother.




Bobby Ruth Showalter, my mother, died in her sleep at her home in the Ozarks March 14, 2013 after many years of worsening health.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Doyle Ray Showalter, two decades ago earlier, and by her younger son, Bobby Lynn Showalter, 45 years ago.

She was a caring, smart, forgiving, funny, altogether delightful woman, who was beloved by family, friends, and community.

I miss her greatly.


Comments On Original Post


  • Christel Schmitz says:

    this story warms my heart, thanks for this and the picture is shining a light out there…..i can see the love between you two…..

  • Arlene Dick says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a very dedicated and beautiful mother. The photo shimmers with feeling and meaning. And it is an extra special personal tribute by you to travel so far to spend quality time with your mother on this day.

  •  Susanne Harlacher says:

    beautiful photo of little Allan and his mother … wished I had such a dear mother ..!!!

  • Coco Éclair says:

    If ever there were a tribute devoid of cliché, this is it. How utterly beautiful….

  • Adrian says:

    D’accord – with all in response.

    Wonderful words – thank you!

    Best to you and your Mom in the Ozarks ?

    Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!!




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