Mother’s Day, by definition, is a celebration honoring the Mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Over the year’s, like many other holidays, it has bloomed into a bit of a Hallmark holiday. Cards, flowers, a gift, perhaps a nice gesture… and done. I question if buying someone flowers and signing your name on a card really encompasses “honoring” what Mother’s really are. So this year (yes, we still made cards and will do a nice gesture) I want to capture a little about what makes Mom’s so special.
For me, I don’t think I ever really grasped how important or hard a job it is to be a Mom until I became one myself. Sure, my Mom always asked me if I had clean underwear on while we were driving to the Dr. (what would she have done if I said no?), she fed me ice cream when I had my tonsils out, carted me back and forth to girl scout meetings, softball, basketball, volleyball, took me prom dress shopping, bought me my favorite ice cream from the schwan’s man, and let’s just be honest here…. she still loved me through my terrible teens and early twenties when I thought I knew it all, yet managed to screw up everything.
My Mom also did some things I will never forgive her for, like letting my Dad drive us to my junior high concert in a yellow 70’s something Chrysler my Grandparents had given us, it was the size of a house, literally, you could fit 17 people in it comfortably and if my memory serves me right, we got pulled over in front of the gym for everyone to see. She took me through the bank drive thru with curlers in my hair for all the ladies to gawk at and I’m pretty sure I had a mullet for a solid 2 years. She made me sit at the table with a plate of eggplant parmesan in front of me for at least 14 hours, what kid eats that? Really, what adult eats that? Gross. She made me pick up filberts, apples and plums from the yard for hours. Ever owned a filbert tree? Your lucky. It’s a really quick way to turn your children against you. When I was a teenager, my Mom & Dad rode their bicycles through town in spandex and helmets, even to the river where I was hanging out with friends jumping out of a tree into the water cheering me on. Talk about embarrassing. Worst ever, wore matching fanny packs with my Dad in PUBLIC, once, for an ENTIRE vacation in California.
So ya, My Mom did the great normal Mom stuff, the embarrassing, I will never forgive or forget stuff… but she did two other things and these are the things I want to recognize today, as we honor our Mom’s.
#1. My Mom created stuff and let me be free. She did and still does all those things that are a dying breed. She painted, did ceramics, quilted, canned, made jam, salsa, sewed my Halloween costumes, gardened, took us to the river and let us run free while she enjoyed the sunshine and a good book, let me float the creek with friends and walk on the country road back home with no parents, let me ride my bike all around town with friends for hours, play kickball in the middle of the road with the whole neighborhood, go on a road trip with the neighbors, travel to Canada with my aunt and uncle, sleep in tents in the yard, be bussed to a school 20 miles outside of town in the middle of nowhere with about 20 kids where we learned about the forest, hiked and got to play hockey in the gym with the Portland Winterhawks… she taught me how to be creative and make things and live outside the box. She stayed close, but let me wander.
I look around my house today and see things she has created, and things I have created. Had she not done those things, I probably wouldn’t have either. I truly believe my expression through writing stems from feeling a sense of freedom for so long. The world feels like a different place now and some of the things we were free to do as kids may not pan out but I am grateful that at that time in my life, my Mom recognized that it was ok to let me find my own adventures. I already see myself doing the same things with my own daughter. Teaching her to cook, taking her to the river for the entire day while she explores, creating lotions and scrubs for her skin, it all stems from my own Mom’s creativity. For that, I feel honored.
#2. I selfishly resented my Mom for this decision for a long time, but stay with me, it makes sense, I promise. Up until a certain age my Mom was always around. She was there when I got home from school, took me everywhere I needed to go and tucked me in at night. She had gone to college when she was younger and graduated but didn’t find a good use with her degree, then came marriage and kids, for so long we were her world, and she was mine.
She made a decision when I was in grade school to go back to college to become an RN. Suddenly she was gone, or studying and wasn’t all mine anymore. After she finished and started her career she was gone nights, weekends, holidays… paying her dues as a new nurse, but all I knew, is that she wasn’t there as much. I don’t know that until this very moment that I have ever actually admitted that I was jaded about it for a while. When your young, you don’t always understand the reasons for adult decisions. I wasn’t able to see that as much as she needed her own identity, she did it for us, her family.
As an adult I now understand and respect that decision. I can’t imagine our lives had she not made that decision, but I didn’t always make it easy on her, I became a rotten and at times ungrateful teenager and for that, I am sorry. As I look back now, and from a “Mom” perspective, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that was. To juggle family, home, work and school, it’s a tough feat. Something I certainly do not long to do. As a result of her decision she has done some of the things that make me admire her the most. Like working in hospice. A job where you are there to make people comfortable in their end days, you become attached to their families, to the patient, only to have to let go. A job I truly believe only an angel can do. She worked her way through the ranks managing many different units and teams, worked in critical settings making life decisions and made career choices that ensured a better future for all of us.
I didn’t like college, more than a few times I changed my path, stopped going, wanted to quit… but I knew if she could do it with all those other factors in play, I could too. My Mom gave me the strength to finish, and for that, I am honored.
It’s important for me to recognize the things I did not always understand at the time because one day, I may be in the same boat with own daughter. On the flip side, it’s equally important for me to share what these things mean to me today. I am much better at putting things in writing than saying them in person so I dont give my Mom the credit she deserves on a daily basis but need her to know her worth.
Our Mom’s are so much of who we are, I only hope that when my Mom looks as me, it’s with the same pride and honor as I have when I look at her.
There is no truer statement than “it takes a village”, I had surrogate Mom’s that took me in as well, Aunts galore; Cindy, Leora, Pam, older cousins, My Mom’s best friend – my Aunt Miss, my Godmother Peggy my best friend’s Mom’s Tammy and Maryellen, they all fed me, kept me in line… called my real Mom when I was hanging out with boys I shouldn’t have been or throwing parties when my parents were gone, thanks for that by the way, but they too helped plant seeds of freedom, creativity and hard work. As I look back I feel so thankful for my village.
I now have my own daughter, and she too, has her own village. Where I try to instill all the wonderful things my village gave me, I am a working Mom, I love my job, I sometimes contemplate if I’m doing the right thing, that perhaps I should stay home with her, but the truth is, I am my best me when I have more than one responsibility. I was nearly 9 years into my career before she came so in a sense, it’s my baby too.
When I cannot be there she is in the hands of her teachers who have helped raise her since she was 4-months old. A group of Women who I trust whole heartedly to do right by my precious gift and encourage her free soul. She has Auntie Nay and Grandma who step in when needed. She has Mommy’s friends Jen and Molly who treat her as their own and she has this whole network of people here, from around the world, rooting her on in her uniqueness.
My favorite thing about being a Mom is watching the world through Mermaid’s eyes. With the exception of believing swiper fox will steal everything she owns, she is unscathed. Everything is amazing and exciting. The tiny villages of ants in our yard are a precious world to her. She thinks the bees live here to make honey just for her. There is no concept of time outside of light and dark and responsibilies are an after thought. She believes she is a ninja, a mermaid and a chef, so I believe she is too.
This Mother’s Day, opposed to just a card or a nice gesture, I challenge you to tell your village those things they did that make you proud, the things that make you feel honored to have them. The things that added value in making you who you are today.
To my Mom and my village, where I know I did not always make the best choices, I came out on the upside because of who you all have been for me. Mom, I am proud and honored by each and everything you have taught me, each and every decision you have made for me, be it easy or hard, and thankful that you were chosen to be mine.
Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow Mommy’s.
Thanks for walking with us today,
Thank you darling for this beautifully written piece. Mothers also learn from their children. I learned 15 Bean soup will spontaneously combust if left on high and boiled eggs can be burned. Then I learned that the lessons I attempted to give and felt so dejected about when ignored actually did stick when I enjoyed a dinner made from scratch. I learned self control when you “organized ” your jelly beans by colors and all I wanted to do is shake up the box (but didn’t) and patience when in fourth grade the school called to tell me you had started a petition to “impeach” the Principal and actually had 50 signatures. As a mother, I always tried the best I could but it’s a journey that is as specific to the time in history, as it is the child and is as changing as the wind. I am very Blessed to have such a bright, talented and truly caring good hearted women in my life. I love you daughter mine….
This is beautiful. What a meaningful, heartfelt way to honor your mother. I think it would be a dream come true for all moms to hear that the decisions they made when you were young, that you may not have agreed with, or understood at the time, you understand now. I had tears welling up while I was reading this.