Tribute to Mothers

(published at Helium.com)

My mother has spent a lifetime doing for others. As a girl, she kept her parent’s house clean and her brother’s clothes ironed. As a young wife, she worked so my father could graduate seminary. As a young mother, she wasn’t allowed to discipline us in church without exacting the wrath of the older ladies who saw us as their pastor’s “angelic” children. We teased mom when she would place hands on her hips, demanding of our friends and us, “Who walked in the living room?” It was the late 70s. We had shag carpet she daily vacuumed and raked. The piano was there, in the living room, and to practice, we had to rake our footprints stepping out: like living in the sand trap of a golf course.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I profoundly experienced the love my mother brought into all of our lives. It was mom who went to Costco and brought me a gallon jug of dill pickles after I’d been teaching all day and had run out; she couldn’t stand that I drank the brine. It was mom who carefully chose the rocker in which I would later nurse my child; the crib in which she would sleep. It was mom I called to sit up nights with me when Olivia had a fever. It is mom I still call when I’m exasperated with my child, now ten. Together we decided, when Olivia forgot to make her bed one morning before school, that I should short sheet her bed by way of discipline. It was clever. It was wise. It was my mother at her finest. Olivia just could not believe I had pulled a college prank on a fourth grader. I know, like her Grandy (whom she adores and confides things I’ll never hear), the short sheeting will become family legend that she delights in telling her own children.

Today I try to do for my mother rather than allow her to do for me. She is vital and sharp, funny and wise. She rarely loses her temper, even when one or another of us has given her good reason. She loves God and quietly reads her Bible each day. It is well worn and the only thing of hers I want her to leave to me, besides, my sisters have already claimed pieces of furniture, art, and jewelry. My mother is beautiful, gracious, and generous. I guess the only other thing I’d like to keep is the part of her I hope to grow into.