I got to spend Mother’s Day with this lady. I think she may be my favorite person in the world. A living motherhood legend, and somehow I got to be her daughter. It was my best mother’s day yet. A house full of exuberant, happy, healthy, funny, full of life children, a husband who shares more than half my load and my own dear parents, cheering me on in my motherhood.
Jeff and Grandfather and the kids made us a yummy and fancy breakfast. We ate alone for about 3 minutes, breathing in the smell of lilacs before the rest of my gaggle joined us. They showered me with gifts (that, unbenounced to them, I had ordered for myself).
I wore my Queen pin that I bring out every mother’s day (thanks Megan for sending it so many mother’s day’s ago!). It’s nice to give everyone a reminder of who’s who on Mother’s day….but looking back, I really should have had my mother wear it.
For Mother’s day I asked my siblings to all send me a list of three things that our mom did for us growing up that made a difference. We all could have listed hundreds, I’m sure, but I wanted the meat of it. Selfishly I wanted to know which motherhood acts really stick. I wanted to know what my kids might remember in 20 years when they’re raising starting their own families. Here are some that struck me:
- Mom softened some hard situations for me. When I felt friendless as a high school freshman and dreaded that 1/2 hour at lunch when I'd have to wander around trying not to look as lonely and pathetic as I felt, she'd sometimes squeeze in a little lunch date with me. I remember being so very grateful to see her pull up in the big blue van in front of East and happily hop in and we'd go enjoy a quick but oh-so-welcome lunch together. Seems like Wendy's was usually where we'd go. Usually she had little Eli in tow. Meant so much that she found the time to do that for me. And when I got asked to my first big dance once I was 16 by a guy I wasn't at all excited about, she made the situation way better by splurging to buy me the dress of my dreams.
- Mom passed me (and all of us) on her love of art and babies. I remember being so giddy each time she'd bring a new baby home from the hospital. I remember being in awe that she would let me hold them so much and thinking how I would never be able to let someone else hold my own babies so much because I'd want to hold them every single second. And to this day, every time I see a piece of art that intrigues me and speaks to me, I think of Mom. And how she would love it. Maybe she'd even get tears in her eyes about it. I love that she gave me that love.
- Mom exemplifies "we do hard things". She’d say, “If life is a bowl of cherries, then hire a wolf to knock at your door.” As I think of the crazy memories of my childhood I awe about mom's adventurous spirit of doing hard things. Always ready to push the envelope to make something great happen. Exemplifying outrageous bravery in the cause of strengthening our family and our relationship with God and Christ.
- Mom always stood up for me, not matter what. Whether it was standing up to crappy teachers or standing up to kids who were unkind, she was my biggest supporter and always had my back.
- I loved the times I would get mom all to myself. For example when she would pick me up for an orthodontic appointment and then take me to Eat a Burger across the street (where I'd get all kinds of food stuck in my new rubber band color choice braces). Just being on my own with her made me feel so special. Mom has always had a gift to make us each feel such tremendous individual love for us even when there were so many of us and even when we were all together her love comes though so clear in a group and individualized way. (lots of us mentioned these “ortho dates” as one of our three things that she did that made a difference….amazing how much impact one on one time has!)
- Mom always focused on what was really important. She’d always say, “If a thing is barely worth doing, then barely do it.” I remember lots of times she would pick me up from school and then look in the mirror and say, all exasperated, that she hadn’t brushed her hair yet that day. I guess brushing her hair was one of those barely worth doing things (I remember always thinking that she still looked so great). I love that she taught me that some things are worth letting slide, to pick and choose, and when you choose, choose to put your energies into things that will really make a difference to others.
- Mom taught me to love classical music and art. Although I fought it quite a bit, it was always "my car, my music" a d so we listened to 89.1fm. Mom has such a great appreciation and love for the arts and now one of my favorite things in the world to do is enjoy classical music or art with her.
- I know others have and will say this, but Mom taught me to be an appreciator - of nature, art and music, good food, and anything that people put effort and work into. She is always so grateful and gracious and expressive about lovely or praiseworthy things, even ones she doesn't understand much. I think this is one of the best qualities I have inherited from Mom. She loves the world and all its shades of beauty and really appreciates it when someone creates something wonderful.
- I love that Mom always saw the good in me
- I loved it when mom climbed into bed with me to wake me up instead of wriggling my big toe on my left foot.
- Mom was the greatest example of hard work and doing hard things. She was a no nonsense kind of mom who somehow still had a perfect balance of love and nurturing. She didn’t really stand for us to be wimps, but she still had perfect empathy for us when we were doing things that were really hard.
- Mom is the best cheerleader ever. She completely supports and does all she can to help with anything I set out to do. She doesn't judge or push. She just cheers and praises. I'm so grateful for that.
- I will be forever grateful for the gift she gave me of her love (through pure example) for the Savior. I remember her tears as she bore her testimony in that living room over and over again. I remember knowing that she knew (and still knows) that Christ lives. Not just through her words, but through her never-ending example of Christ-like love.
Reading through these don’t you see some definite themes? She loved us and supported us and believed in us and cheered us on to no end. She pushed us to do hard things. She taught us to love all beauty. She loved us individually and unconditionally. She loved Jesus and showed us what it means to strive to love and live as He did.
Surely my mother wasn’t perfect, I’m sure we all remember times that she pulled our ears out of frustration, didn’t have time to drop everything to listen to our ‘big’ problem or lost her ability to be the eye of the storm, but those little glitches are blown away by the love for us that poured out of her sacrifice. They are eclipsed completely by the millions of little daily deeds of her motherhood that painted a picture of love and hard work and support and beauty.
This list gives me direction and perspective and it gives me hope. I am not my mother, don’t think I’ll ever come close, but I was raised by her and I can feel her light shining through me, blessing the next generation.
I am forever grateful to you mom. For all the big and little things. For elevating our souls and helping us all fly.
And the lucky winner of a copy of “Choosing Motherhood” is (from my last post):
I would LOVE this book, I am trying to teach Flying Lessons while trying not to hover as a helicopter parent!
Cheryl, send your address to saydria at gmail dot com and I’ll get the book in the mail to you. You’re going to love it.
And last, here’s to a career in motherhood, as Lia Collins says, "What other career could claim as its end-product the elevation of a human soul?"