I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln
Growing up, I often heard the phrase,
“You’re just like your mother.”
I’ve heard it for as long as I can remember. Even at her funeral, relatives and friends alike remarked how much I reminded them of her. At the time, at twenty years old, I could not see it.
But the truth is, I was and still am. I look like my mother, with her crooked flat little nose. I sound like my mother and can almost hear her in the room when I guffaw in a certain way after hearing something that tickles my funny bone. I can feel her when I slam a cupboard in frustration, or get excited about good news. I am private like she was, and live a life that is introverted, even though some would think I am an open book. I am flawed, but accepting of those imperfections because she showed me that it was okay to be less than perfect. When I am baking, and the recipes works, I feel my mother in the kitchen with me, willing me to succeed in cutting squares that are actually square, and not something like a parallelogram out of a tenth grade geometry text. (why does everyone need squares to be square anyway?)
When Stephen died, I longed for her, needing a comfort that only a mother could give her child. And, that not being possible, I instead decided to conduct myself in a way that was “Madge-like.” I took comfort in the fact that if she could not be with me, at least she was with Stephen. I tried to be dignified, loving, and sometimes even stoic. But most of all, I tried to be like her and remain positive and strong in the face of tremendous hurt in life. Truly, when I think about my choice to grieve with gratitude, she deserves a great measure of the credit. More than my nose, I believe I am most like my mother in how I deal with the valleys of life. And that makes me proud.
I wonder if she realized the immense responsibility that was hers when she took on this gig called motherhood. I wonder if she understood that through the way she lives, I would grow to see life through her eyes. From her, I learned how to express love, frustration, and anger. I learned how a marriage should work. I learned how much a mother should tolerate and where to draw the line. I learned how to love my own children, and be a protective Momma bear. I learned how to bake bread, make soup and slam cupboards when I disagreed with the direction of the family. I learned about tradition, and how to make occasions special. She taught me resilience, and how to stand tall when life was less than perfect. She showed me that not only was it okay for me to be happy, it was required. She was not perfect, and showed me that was okay too.
So, as we approach this Mother’s Day, I would ask you to do two important things.
Give thanks for your own mother, and all she did throughout the years to shape you into the human being you are today. Whether she is living or has passed on, take some time this weekend to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.
And finally, if you yourself are now a mother, think about the life you are reflecting in your own child’s eyes. Are you teaching your child about happiness, love and gratitude? Are you, through your own life, showing your child that they are beautiful and worthy of all the joy that life has to offer?
Happy Mother’s Day Madge. Heaven is lucky to have you.
p.s. The photo is one of my favorites of my mother, and was taken at my birthday party. It captures who she was, with her hands on her hips and that grin. She was awesome. If you look closely, in the corner of the picture, you can see my neighbor Gary climbing the fence. Shortly after this picture was taken, I had a meltdown at my party ( this happened every year, as I could not take the attention) and was escorted to my bedroom to watch my friends and relatives from my window as they enjoyed the celebration of my birth. I don’t think Madge was smiling so much as she dragged me down the hall kicking and screaming and otherwise being a monster. My family and I call it Birthday Party Syndrome. And yes, I still have this affliction, and require some quiet time each birthday….although now, I do not require an escort, and just go quietly without a fuss.