Thursday, May 9, 2013
My father had been told he wouldn't live to see me born. My mother, pregnant with her forth child (me) thought she would be raising all four of us siblings alone. She faced the news with the same tenacity as how she approached life -Bold and Resolute. As a faith hugger, she slipped into eternity sooner than my dad, but she did watch him live well into his golden years. As Mother’s Day approaches, so many things remind me of this incredible woman and how blessed my siblings and I were to have called her, “Mom.”
Here are a few wonderful lessons I learned from my mom:
• She believed in making things better, not always equal. Not every gift to our friends and children was exactly the same. She looked at needs and met them as much as she could. We were happy when one of us got new shoes, even if the others didn't get anything. We, as children understood from her that giving was an act of love, not an entitlement.
• She was a mother, not always a friend. As the teen years approached, I tested the boundaries of her patience far greater than the three before me. My mother told me what I didn’t want to hear, took away privileges and once even slapped me in the face. (that’s another story, but I completely deserved it.) She didn’t particularly care if I liked her or not. She had another purpose; she was shaping me. I was the wild monkey, but she was the keeper of the bananas. There was no mistake of who was calling the shots, even though you couldn’t find a gentler soul. As an adult, she was always more than a friend; she was my mom – a keeper of my history and a woman loved me from the start of my first breath.
• My mother had a church, but she was not a pastor. Our home was a gathering place for a Mecca of different kinds of people who called my mother, “Mom.” We sat in the cathedral of her sanctuary and listened to her heart. While we ate, played, laughed from her wit and her love for all things, she was at work overseeing the basic need of humanity –love.
• She taught me that the wisdom of the soul is not always found after the letters of your name. Mom was a fan of schooling, and encouraged each of us to run after knowledge, but her biggest goal was making us better humans. A better human is always thirsty for information. She modeled that with her vast self-taught knowledge of birds and nature and the gift of music that came to her naturally.
• My mom wore laughter lines, not a frown mark could be found on her delicate face. I can remember holding my giggles with our mother, while my father, the engineer figured out a way to get the car running again in the desert. He had nothing more than a coke flip top and duct tape to work with. It’s a figurative picture that has etched deeply in my mind on how to handle stress – find a piece a humor about yourself or your situation. The wisdom of laughter has carried me through tough battles.
• She held a degree in nature, but she was not a biologist. Comical, vivid scenes of my mom nursing a dead bird for days in a Kleenex box portray the extent of her care to all. (She didn’t have her glasses on and could not understand why it wasn’t opening its mouth to the worms she had dug up.) Compassion knew no bounds. She is probably the reason I let flies out the window, rather than smack them.
• Mom was a cheerleader on the sidelines of our lives, not playing the game for us. Through her support, we learned to face failure, not escape it. She knew that we were born to leave her nest one day and that struggle produces resilience. Mom would share the pain of our burden and offer us tools to succeed, however we used our own creativity and strength to find our way out. She didn’t blame teachers, friends or other parents when I got in trouble, because Mom was also supporting the process of my growth. She made sure I took responsibility for my actions.
• My mother was older than most, but not feeble of heart and mind. As the last born, my mother was well past her mid thirties when she gave birth to me; however I never thought of her as ancient, even in my teens. It was not because of what she wore, (heck my mom was wearing nylon stretchy pants way before it was cool). It was her open heart that made her young. To stay youthful is to have an open mind which is pliable.
• She was properly put together, not righteously proper. There was not a smack of pretense in my mother’s character. Mom was not a fan of brand names and fluff. She was practical and resourceful.
• Mom was a boundary maker, not rule stickler. She knew that rules were meant to serve, not control. Because of our relationship, it made me want to please her. Rules with rapport always make life easier to swallow. The gift of boundary marking generated a life long security for me. From her, I learned how to set boundaries myself.
• My mother was a retail market of confidence building, not a department store of timidity. Confidence is perhaps one of the greatest gifts one can give a child: confidence to speak your thoughts, confidence to make right choices, confidence to try new things, confidence to know how to be treated and how to treat others. We all knew we could do and be anything we wanted to in life.
• My mom is a legend, not a mere example. There are not many women that are graced with such rare beauty and wisdom. I can only hope daily to step into a puddle of her goodness generated by a love filled footprint.