On this Mother’s Day, I want to tell you about my mother and share with you some of the things that she has taught me over the years. This is certainly not an all-inclusive list and perhaps one day I’ll create a second volume to this post, but for today, these are my focus.
- Make A Plan. Even as a little girl, I remember seeing Mom make these weekly schedules and plans out of plain paper and lines drawn with a ruler. She has received many planners over the years and uses one for school only because she has to, but she is much more comfortable with a homemade version. Mom plans things down to the minute. I remember coming home from college on breaks and waking up in the mornings to find a schedule for my day. I get emails in the days and weeks before we come for visits and I’m never surprised to see that she has put so much thought and planning into our visits, trying to cram as much fun and specialness into our time as possible. I lovingly call her The Cruise Director because of this, but I know it is well intentioned. I believe it may come from the fact that Mom’s mother died suddenly when Mom was in college. She understands that we don’t have all the time in the world and we need to fill the time we do have with the things that matter.
- Make Every Day Count. Mom always let us participate in things like dance lessons, T-ball, and mission trips and she found a way to balance family, school, and fun. I remember many trips to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, afternoons at the Brown County State Park, summers on the Slip N Slide, and much fun at home. We made Play Doh, played outside for hours, and helped with chores. These are memories that I want to recreate with my boys and I loved it when Mom made Play Doh with Miles last year.
- Things Won’t Always Go As Planned. It’s a well-known joke in our family that if Mom plans any kind of special event that involves the outdoors, it WILL rain. It WILL be unseasonably cold or hot. There WILL be some sort of issue with the weather. But even through frigid Girl Scout sleepovers and rainy weather birthday parties, Mom has always managed to make them fun. Even when it comes to big life events and circumstances (deaths, pregnancies) Mom has been able to get through them because of her strong faith in God’s plan for all of us. When we deal with our own struggles, I remember this lesson.
- Laugh. A Lot. I learned a lot about humor from my mom. Not many days go by that I don’t make some kind of comment or joke and think “That is exactly how Mom would say that.” I learned by observing the way my mom would tell stories, create funny comics and pictures for her co-workers, and setting up practical jokes and surprises for our family and friends. Her humor is never mean-spirited and while my own brand is a bit more self-deprecating and sarcastic, Mom taught me that laughing is important. I’m making it a point to spend some time every day with each of the boys just laughing.
- Great Friends Are Hard To Find. Growing up in Indiana, my mom met her best friend, Meredith. She had two daughters very close in age to my sister and I (she also has an older son), and we spent countless hours together. They watched one another’s kids, went shopping, talked on the phone, and fought Meredith’s cancer…together. When Meredith lost her battle soon after we moved, I saw what she had meant to my mom. She meant stability and strength as they both experienced parenting together. Mom has had a hard time making close friends since then, somewhat because of being a minister’s wife and frequent moves, but also because once you experience a great friend it can be difficult to recreate that special kind of relationship again.
You Don’t Know It All. Because Mom’s mother died many years before I was born, I never observed my mom calling her mom to say “How do I treat a bee sting?” or “How do I make that great icing to put between graham crackers?” or “How do I get these kids to listen to me?!” I know she would have if she could have, because my moms knows that she needs to rely on those around her to complement her own knowledge and intuition. I know that she turns to others when she isn’t sure how to handle a situation and I need to do more of the same. My mom knows and lot and even though we won’t agree on everything, her opinion matters. (So Mom, expect to get more phone calls about diaper rash and baby poop!)
- Parenting Means Sacrifice. Mom rarely buys things for herself and doesn’t make plans based on her own needs. In my teenage years, I was frustrated by what I saw as martyrdom, wondering “Why won’t she just go buy a new purse?! The old one is falling apart!” But now as a parent I see it as sacrifice, laying down your own desires and wants for the needs of your children. I know that Mom tried to teach this idea to us in many ways, including my infamous birthday parties in which each child who came went home with a gift (think “Musical Chairs” except with presents brought by my friend). We laugh about it now, and I’m sure I wasn’t happy about it at the time, but it was a lesson, one that has stuck with me.
Mom, thank you for being you. Thanks for all you’ve taught me and for the lessons I haven’t noticed yet. Keep workin’ on me, I tend to be a bit thick-headed. I love the way my eyes are being opened to the many ways you love me through seeing how you love my boys. They love you greatly in return and I’m so glad they get to spend time with you and that you fill it in such special ways. You are a wonderful mother and grandmother. Thank you for putting up with me when I don’t understand your lessons and continuing to teach me. Thanks for teaching me how to be a mom. I love you!
Happy Mother’s Day!