It's probably a cliche to write about my mom for Mother's Day, but I really wanted to do it this year.
My mom is the person that holds our entire family together. She's the one who almost always knows what's going on with my sisters and I, so that even when my sisters and I can't seem to connect and catch up, we talk to my mom and she fills us in. She remembers everyone's birthdays and anniversaries. She even knows what days I'm home with R and calls to see how we're doing. She calls after R's doctor's appointments to find out what happened.
She is the most amazing grandmother. Her grandsons adore her because she's loving, silly, fun, creative, and she never talks down to them. When my mom was here for R's birthday a few weeks ago, R was in heaven. Grandma built the coolest railroad track and played trains with him. She doesn't watch from the sidelines - she climbs in the sandbox, gets down on the floor to play Candyland and Chutes & Ladders, and hides in the closet for hide and seek. She loves and appreciates her grandsons for who they are, and she learns their likes, dislikes, and dreams. She got R the coolest space pajamas and a pillow with the planets on it because she knows how much he's into spaceships and astronomy. I think if he were obsessed with earthworms, she'd do everything she could to find worm stuff.
My mom has this amazing ability to get things done. She's like a whirlwind of productivity. I'll talk to her on a Saturday morning, and by 10 a.m., she'll have done several loads of laundry, cleaned two bathrooms, made food for a church function, weeded her garden beds, walked the dog, and painted an entire room in her house. (I'm not exaggerating.) I'm constantly in awe of what she accomplishes. I still have no idea how she raised three daughters while keeping the house and yard beautiful and cooking all the meals. (I can barely deal with my house and one child - never mind my yard!)
I have so much fun with my mom. She's crazy and silly, and she has the cutest giggly laugh. When we were little, she made up songs that we still remember today. (One was about pinching heinies!)
My mom is incredibly smart and well read, and she always encouraged us to read as much as possible (we spent our summers at the library). She took us to museums and historical sites when our friends went to amusement parks. (Although I didn't appreciate it as much then!) She went back to college when my sisters and I were grown, and she earned her B.A. She and I took the GREs together. She kills in Scrabble.
She is creative and talented. I love her drawings. Growing up, we all made homemade valentines for each other. I still have a couple that my mom made me. It's amazing what she can do just with crayons. She made up a whole series of stories for my baby sister starring my sister's favorite stuffed animal, Jonathan Duck. Although the stories were for my sister, I seem to remember being there and soaking up every word my mom spoke.
My mom made growing up special with little traditions and celebrations. During Advent, we lit the Advent wreath each night, opened a window on the calendar, read from the Bible, sang a Christmas song, and then my dad would read part of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" to us. After school each afternoon, we'd sit down and have tea and cookies to connect and talk about our day. When I turned sixteen, my mom took me to a furniture store where I got to pick out a hope chest. It's still probably the finest piece of furniture I own. She and my grandma bought me linens and doilies and other traditional hope-chesty things for it. That was so special to me. The day I "became a woman," my mom gave me a card with a wonderful note in it and celebrated with me. On Thanksgiving (a big day in our hometown of Plymouth, MA), we'd get up early to help her with the turkey and stuffing, then we went to an ecumenical service at the oldest church in town. People dressed as Pilgrims were there, and the chief of the local Wampanoag Indian tribe would recite the Lord's Prayer in Wampanoag. Then we went to "Mug & Muffin" for hot cocoa and chocolate chip muffins (grilled, with butter), and then home again for our meal. Thanksgiving has always been my absolute favorite holiday because of that tradition.
She was (and is!) my spiritual teacher, helping me to know and love God and to discover his word. I watched my mom live out her faith - always helping the older women in our church with whatever they needed, driving all over creation to help refugee families get housing/welfare/medical care, and always being honest with us. I have always respected my mom for refusing to do the whole Santa Claus thing (she didn't want to lie to us and told us early on that he wasn't real - but also that we needed to keep that to ourselves). We did our egg hunt on the first day of spring so that Easter would be about Jesus and not about bunnies or candy. I love that she gave us the experience of going to both Lutheran and Evangelical churches. I learned to appreciate the deep reverence and formality of traditional liturgy and the moving, emotional, and often physical experience of less formal worship. But mostly she taught me to experience God on a personal level, in my heart and mind.
Woven through all she does is her love for her family, and she has infused each of us with that love as well. No matter how far apart my sisters and my mom and my dad are, we all know that we love each other fiercely and that nothing can change that. Growing up, we lived far away from my Grandma, but my mom packed us up and drove to see her what seemed like all the time so that we could know our Grandma and Grandpa and our aunt. My mom gave us the wonderful experience of being with her mother. I'm so grateful for that.
And, I'm so thankful to my mom for everything she's done, for making my childhood a time of special memories (even when life was pretty tumultuous otherwise), for teaching me about being a mother, for loving my son and my husband, and for always encouraging and loving me. She is one amazing powerhouse of a woman, and she's a true gift from God.
I love you, Mom!
Happy Mother's Day.