This is the day we honor mothers who showed up for it. Sometimes they're called moms, stepmothers, dads, Aunt Marthas or grandmas. The name isn't important.

They're the people who roll out of bed each day to teach, serve, listen, counsel and nurture a child. They are probably the only people in the world who love you enough to hold you in their arms after you've just said you hated them.They've been around so long that sometimes they're like a wall that you bump into and don't even see. But they've been there - from the Beav to Bart Simpson, from Dr. Spock to Dr. Ruth, through sagging diapers and soaring achievements.

They've endured being sprayed in the face with strained carrots, having chewing gum spit out in the palm of their hands, using their teeth to take knots out of shoestrings that you have wet on, and serving as a receptacle for nose tissue you have just used.

Mothering is a unique job. They're fired every other day and told they are no longer needed. But nothing changes. They're not going anywhere. When their sons have a hairline like the state of Texas, they'll still be prompting, "Don't talk with food in your mouth."

It's a high-risk profession. We all know that when we go into it. You win some, you lose some. So why do we do it? It sure isn't the money.

I guess it's because I don't know of any other job in the world that brings out the best in people . . . patience, understanding, compassion, strength, selflessness, caring, forgiveness. They are virtues you never knew were within you until you raise a child. I never knew I could say no when my heart wanted so badly to say yes. I never knew I could tell a child the truth when it hurt both of us so much. I never knew I could put anyone above my own feelings.

If this sounds dramatic, allow me to recount a story I read last week of an Iraqi mother in Safan who approached a reporter and, with tears streaming down her face, surrendered to him a passport, birth certificate and the hand of her child to take with him to America. She cried, "Thank you, mister."

To all who have the courage to raise children, happy Mother's Day.