‘Love’ isn’t strong enough.

Our language is woefully inadequate. How can the word that describes our affection for, say, a favorite sweatshirt, be the same one we use for the woman who is our everything? 

Not only is the word inadequate, but also shamefully overused.

We need a stronger, better, more descriptive word for the love between a mother and child. Sure, “love” works for little kids drawing hearts with crayons. But as those kids become adults, we realize the sacrifices this woman has made. The worries we caused. The school projects we forgot until the night before and the heartbreaks that hurt her more than us (even though we were too self-absorbed in our own adolescent lives to realize it at the time).

We can’t just love the woman who gave us life, and then devoted the rest of her life to making ours better. We need something at least as strong as she is.

A 2-year-old Mandy (Bolen) Miles shares a beach chair with her mom, Mary Ann Bolen, in Ocean City, N.J., circa 1978. BOB BOLEN/Contributed

She worried about our science test as much as we did. She prayed harder than we did for that acceptance letter, for that boy’s phone call, and for that dance invitation. She knew which boys would break our hearts. And when it happened, she’d hate that boy more than we’d ever know.

She endured our adolescent eye rolls, our door slams and our cruel accusations that she was trying to ruin our lives.

Yet still she woke at 5 a.m. on freezing winter mornings to drive us 45 minutes to a 6 a.m. practice. And come game day, she was always there, rushing from work to sit on cold, hard bleachers, praying harder than anyone, that the shot would go in, that our bat would connect.

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And whether it did or whether it didn’t, our eyes would always seek and find hers for a silent, shared moment of celebration or sympathy.

As we grew older, she grew wiser. At least, that’s what we told ourselves as we started asking for her advice, not her permission — and we actually listened to it.

Because finally we knew. She’d been right all along. She was and always would be firmly on our side. She only wanted, more than anything, for us to be happy, safe and certain of her love. 

That’s it. That’s all a mother ever wants for her kids, and mine has made me the happiest kid ever.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, from your “Dolly!”

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