“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing.” -Toni Morrison, Beloved
I will always be my mother’s daughter, her only girl, her gift to watch over and cherish. If I’m happy, my mom’s rejoicing with me. If I’m sad, she is too. When I’m worried, my mom is there to share the burden with me. As I close in on fifty, I often tell my mom that she really doesn’t need to worry quite so much anymore. She reminds me that a mother always worries.
“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” -Washington Irving
My mother is one of my truest friends. She is the one I want to call when I am feeling alone or sick, sad or overwhelmed. A steadier presence cannot be found. When I was in the fifth grade, ALL of the girls in my class decided that I wasn’t to be included or talked to for the final four months of school. Needless to say, this was not a happy time for me. Home was my refuge and I looked forward to coming home each day to a new stack of books she had for me to read, an outing that was planned or the warm chocolate chip cookies that waited for me after school each day. Every day my mother would reinforce to me that I was strong, kind, smart, and likeable as she helped me limp through the remainder of the school year.
“When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll become a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” -Pablo Picasso
My mother wasn’t one of those crazy helicopter moms that we see today, pushing and over scheduling, but she did believe in my brothers and me. “Do your best,” was a phrase we heard ringing out behind us as we trooped off for the bus each morning. Exploring and developing our strengths was her passion as she found classes and sports that fit our interests and books to feed our curiosity. I was excruciatingly shy as a girl and my mom often had to lend me some of her confidence in order for me to take on things I wanted to try. When I was crying my eyes out my first semester at college because I was so homesick, she never offered to me the opportunity to drop out and come home to attend the local community college. Even though it was hard for her to see me hurting, she lovingly supported me with visits, care packages, phone calls, and letters. My mom knew this was the path I needed to travel to realize my dream of becoming a teacher and helped me stick it out.
“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” -Mark Twain
I grew up with three brothers and they knew how to pull my mother’s chain. She loves to laugh about their crazy antics now, but at the time she could get pretty mad at them. Once, my youngest brother lied to a teacher so she wouldn’t call my mom about his bad grades. He told the teacher that my mom had brain cancer and really shouldn’t be disturbed. This lie unraveled when the two ran into each other and the teacher asked how my mom was doing with her treatment. Busted! Some of their other adventures included a bar fight, experimenting with fireworks, girlie magazines left lying around, shooting the windows out of a bulldozer with a bb gun and many others.
“Thanks to my mother, not a single cardboard box has found its way back into society. We receive gifts in boxes from stores that went out of business twenty years ago.” -Erma Bombeck
We’ve all learned to contain our excitement when we open presents from my mom. Just because it’s in an iPhone box doesn’t mean it’s an iPhone. My mom has never met a box she didn’t like. No matter what state the box is in, she just tapes them up and reuses them again and again. Other things my mom likes to save that I kind of think are strange? Bags…all kinds, shapes and sizes. Used tinfoil…this was mainly when I was a kid. I’m not sure if there was a shortage or what, but we could never throw it away. Plastic cutlery…not disposable to my mom. Wash it up and reuse it again and again.
Fun Memories With My Mom
- Handmade Clothes- We used to have so much fun flipping through pattern books and wandering through aisles filled with colorful bolts of fabric. My favorite was a green polka dotted sailor dress.
Delivery Room Helper- My husband was in Japan training when my third daughter was born so my mom flew out to Hawaii to be in the delivery room with me. This was slightly horrifying to her as she was completely unconscious for all of her deliveries.
- Scotland- I spent four months in Scotland while I was in college and my mom came to visit. We had the time of our lives touring London and Edinburgh. Choking down a plate of haggis was the low point of this trip. We were visiting a family and couldn’t say ‘no thank you’ to this special, traditional meal they had prepared. Ugh.
- Kentucky Basketball- I’m not a big sports fan, but watching my mom cheer on her beloved Wildcats was, and continues to be, incredibly entertaining. Her primal screams of joy or despair can be heard throughout the house and a video recording of her crazy victory dance would probably go viral on YouTube. Her love for her Alma Mater is rivaled only by her love for her children. I hope.
- Reading- My mom is the ultimate bibliophile and successfully turned all four of us into book lovers. She read to us daily and trips to the library where she helped us select books were a regular part of our childhood. One of my favorite books she read aloud to us was Pilgrim’s Progress.
Halloween Costumes- We always had the most amazing costumes because my mom sewed. Nothing was too challenging for her! It was great fun each year to decide what we wanted to be and then race home from school to see how our costumes had progressed. Sometimes we even won Halloween contests thanks to her skill as a seamstress! My favorite costumes she made were the tiger suit, a pumpkin that we stuffed with newspaper and a pink polka dotted clown outfit.
- Birthdays- When our birthdays rolled around each year, we could count on being treated like VIPs. This included balloons and banners decorating the mantle, beautifully wrapped gifts on the hearth, a homemade birthday cake, and dinner at any restaurant we chose. You could also expect to get out of your chores, and as a bonus, get to watch your siblings sulkily complete them for you! Even though we are all in our 40s, my mom still sends us a birthday box filled with goodies on our special day. She also does this for our children and spouses; this adds up to 19 birthday boxes a year!!
Holidays- Every holiday was a special celebration at our house accompanied by its own set of traditions. Our house was decorated, special cookies or cakes were made, and a holiday themed flag was flown outside. Unpacking the decorations boxes for each event was something I always looked forward to as each item brought forth a variety of memories. We had a family of yellow ceramic Easter ducks that we bought at a tornado sale in Arkansas following a scary night of tornadoes that tore through our town. Our Christmas stockings were hand beaded by my mom. My brothers and I loved admiring these and trying to decide who had the best one.
- Dinnertime- Our family sat down together each evening for dinner. We would share about the happenings of our day, discuss current events, and sometimes play a game like “Name all of the Presidents.” Most nights we would spend around 45 minutes just talking and joking around together. Some of my best memories from childhood revolve around hanging out with my family at dinnertime and I’m so happy that eating together was one of my mom’s priorities.
Animals- My mom really likes animals, especially cats. This worked out nicely for me since I am an animal lover too. Growing up, we had a constant stream of strays and regular pets living with us. Hunting dogs that were lost would turn up on our doorstep as well as lots and lots of stray cats. One of my coolest memories is when I got to see one of these cats have kittens. I was horrified and delighted at the same time.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
I love you.