Friday, May 9, 2014

Thoughts on Mother's Day

Life is Good: thanks to our mamas

Happy Mother's Day! You can give birth and be a mother, but it takes a lot more to be a mama. And I hit the jackpot when God chose my mom to be my mama. God knew that my talkative, dramatic, idea-filled, bubbly, brain with no off button, worse yet, mouth with no off button, imaginative, sensitive, reactionary, did I say talkative? self needed a calm, wise, supportive mother. And my mom is. She is our family's rock. She is understanding and forgiving (almost to a fault). She is the first to offer a listening ear. She is the last to make judgements or cast stones. I have watched her turn the other cheek. And then turn the other cheek. Again and again. She is the glue and the foundation of our immediate family. You've heard of yin and yang? Well, she is the yin to my dad's boisterous yang, for sure. She is the helper, the nurse, the teacher, the peacemaker. She brims with unconditional love.

I love this pic above from my wedding. My mom is a prim, proper, reserved, shy, ladylike kind of lady. But she lets loose (a tad) when she dances. I can see the sheer joy in this photo. My parents love to dance together. There was a time when they hurried off to dance lessons every Friday night when I was a kid. I love watching them dance. They are light on their feet and effortless. You can see them both beam to the music. It is precious to me.

It is hard for me, the one of too many words, to find just a few to sum up how I feel about my mom or who she is to me or what she means to me. She is simply everything. She is not perfect. But neither am I. She is not always articulate with her words. She often wants to "fix it" when I just want her to listen. And she still thinks I should wear mini skirts like I wore in high school. There are worse things, right? And this is just one of the fine lessons that she has taught me. To be gentle with people. To accept them for who they are. To understand that we all are wired a little differently. And to be true to yourself and honest about yourself---flaws and all. And she uses this rule with me, too. She will never pretend that I am perfect or try to make the world think so. Keeping up appearances, putting on airs, or trying to be something she is/we are not has never been her goal. And I appreciate that. It means that she tells me when she disagrees. And she tells me when she is disappointed. And oh, how that kills me. Cuts me to the bone. Oh, how I do not want to disappoint my mom. But it also helps me. It keeps me humble. It keeps me honest. And that keeps the pressure off. Really. Trying to be the best me is hard enough. Imagine if you were raised to believe you had to be the best public version of what your family has pretended you are. Man, I can't even type that sentence correctly. I can't make sense of that at all.

I know women who think they have to be a "mama bear"--you mess with my kid, you mess with me. But what if your kid was in the wrong? And then you go all mama bear on someone? What message does that send? I know mothers who can't hear the eensy weensiest negative thing about their grown child without flipping their lid. Really? How about admitting that they are a grown up and they are imperfect? It'll make you happier and I bet, them, too. I don't have to worry about that with my mom. And I am glad for it. No doubt, she adores me. No doubt, if given the opportunity, she will go on and on about the silly little things I am up to. And on. She likes who I am. She likes who I am trying to be. She loves me. She is proud of me. She tells me that and I feel it. I know it in my heart. But the honest, real person she is has created an honest, real relationship with me and that has encouraged me to go out and do the same. That is how I am living my life. And that is how I am raising my children. We are not perfect. We don't have all of the answers. We are doing our best. And with God's help, we are making it through each day with smiles on our faces and love in our hearts and the world can see that...along with all of our flaws, too.

My mom also taught me the love of family and the beauty and gift of motherhood. She taught me that you can suffer great loss and somehow, remain. She taught me that all things are possible with God. Sure, there were times when I was a teenager that she showed her faith a little too loudly and early for my tastes---waking me up singing hymns while playing her antique pipe organ (subtle, not passive aggressive at all, mom), but I am grateful to have grown up living in a house with a woman who lived her faith. She expressed it through music and her words, through the ever-presence of the bible, and through her daily actions of love and forgiveness.

I get my love of cooking and baking from my mom (and her mom). I get my can-do attitude from her, too. I love flowers and koi fish and making stuff because of her. And I love a clean house. This is most likely due to being raised by a woman who once called me on the phone to say, "Oh, I wish you could see how clean my sink is. It is shining. It is just beautiful." Like I said, she isn't perfect, but she is perfect for me.

My mom recently had a scare with a dangerous bacterial infection. It came on suddenly and looked grim at times. She's had a long, hard recovery that isn't over. To say that I have been scared and stressed about this is the ultimate understatement. The thought of not being able to call or Skype her to tell her that the little one has been walking around saying, "I'm handsome!" all day, or that he wrapped himself up in a blanket like a burrito and claimed to be the Baby Jesus, or to ask her opinion about whether a bump on the head warrants a trip to the ER and countless other things makes me want to... crumble. Absolutely. Crumble. But it also makes me grateful. And thankful. And it serves as a reminder to savor each moment and enjoy each exchange. Even if it is about the weather (another thing she lovvvvvvves to talk about) or how clean her sink is. ; )

I must admit, I poo poo this holiday a little. I call it a "Hallmark holiday". Simply because I hope that I show my love for my mom everyday. I hope she knows it and feels it each day of the week. And I hope I never need a card company's invention to remind me to honor her. So on Mother's Day and everyday, I cherish you, mom. You are a treasure. You are a gift. You are the perfect imperfect mama for imperfectly imperfect me.

Happy Mother's Day,

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