Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Week!

To a young daughter, Mom is endlessly glamorous. To a teen daughter, I know I'm something of an albatross, but to a daughter who is a mother, Mom is a safe phone a friend life line when you don't know the answer to the question. And man am I glad I don't have to adhere to Regis' limits.

Everything I learned about being a mom, came from being a daughter. 

On Sunday when my nine year old brought me a picture she'd drawn of a life size barbie in a red sequined dress, I flashed back to my own six year old self and the brunette Barbie with a sparkly gray dress I'd received for a present.  I thought she looked beautiful.  I thought she looked like Mom.  I knew my daughter was saying the same thing even if I'm not blond.

My favorite dress in fourth grade was a red pokadot ensemble that I thought matched my mother's dress.  I felt important wearing it when I did, because I looked like her.  Dad may have showered us with theological and literary treasures like C.S. Lewis and Dickens and Chesterton and Tolkein; Mom made us sit down and actually read. 

Mom couldn't cure or kiss away all the pains of growing up, but she was with me as I stumbled through them.  She couldn't explain why someone had written cruel words the day we got out for Christmas, but she could cheer me with music and going out to get a few decorations for the tree and a bit of ice cream. She taught that while words hurt, they didn't need to be relived and relived and relived.  Mom always put a brave face on things and I learned to do the same.

When the house flooded, she didn't panic.  The repairs from that disaster meant six months of bare floors and casseroles.  When we finally sat down to a family dinner in the dining room, the table collapsed just after grace.  Mom may have cried but I remember her laughter.  It was an insane turn of events. And when our house flooded the second time, I still don't remember her despairing even as all that hard work was washed away yet again.  The house may have been sinkable, and the land of Beaumont below sea level, but to me, Mom's optimism seemed boundlessly buoyant. 

She also has been endlessly hospitable.  Whenever her family or Dad's needed help, she opened our house.  So we grew up with uncles and cousins and grandmother.  When people needed help, my observations were, she always said "yes." To me, her whole life was like grace before meals, blessed are we who are about to receive.  It could be food, it could be relatives, but we were always about to receive something and no matter what it was, "Blessed were we."

Mom has a memory that reveals she took everything in, to this day, she never forgets a name or a story about a family and always seems to know everyone.  At weddings, funerals or family vacations, having Mom at your side was the equivalent of having a CIA operative briefing on every guest, complete with back story.  She simply remembered each person in detail as if they were the only person.  She still does.  Alas, I did not receive her gift in my DNA mix, as I still play "Name that person" with people who I know, have known me for years, and some of those folks are my children. 

Mom still keeps me on my toes, reminding me to schedule that appointment with the dentist, to spend a bit of money on myself every once in a while, to watch what I eat and make sure the kids do some of the things that when you have a big family, you sometimes get jaded about doing and forget.  She also calls when she spots a typo or a spelling error, so she's my defacto editor.   She's also the one that taught me my default answer for everything, "Did you pray about it?"  because that's what she'd say and that's what she does and it always works. Ultimately, flowers and a card and a day aren't enough, I'd need at least a lifetime to say thank you and that's just for putting up with me as a mopey sad teenager who sat in her room and listened to mopey sad songs.

So Happy Mother's Day Week! Enjoy an extra six days on me.  Now I have to go and call my mom.

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