May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

I was sick a lot as I grew up. Pneumonia and/or bronchitis every year, sometimes ending up in the hospital because of it. My earliest memory was when I was 3 and I was in an oxygen tent; I remember my mom walking into the room. I have forgotten my daughter at church but THAT I remember. My first ulcer occurred at the age of 7, I've had viral meningitis twice, countless rounds of pneumonia, and Bell's Palsy a total of 5 times. At one point during that time the doctors apparently told my mom that my condition was dire but I never knew about it. When I look back at all those times of being sick, I just relate it to someone who gets a cold every winter. It's inconvenient and a nuisance, but you just deal with it.

Through it all, my mom always took care of me. She never once let on that any of it was any worse than just a typical cold. She just wiped my forehead, fed me chicken broth and did her best to cheer me up. As I got older, I tried to return the favor when she was sick, and I credit her with my tolerance and low-stress attitude when my kids are sick.

You know, it's funny...when you are little, your mom is your entire world. As you get older, you drift away, start to build up a little independence. Eventually, you're grown and when someone says you look/act/sound like your mother, you grumble and groan because no one wants to grow up to be their mother.

Can I be honest with you? I am JUST.LIKE.MY.MOTHER. And that isn't such a bad thing.

Both my parents are hard-working, do-it-to-the-best-of-your-ability people but I believe I inherited my mom's desire to be the best at whatever job I'm given. After deciding to close her successful, in-home hair salon, my mom sought full-time work outside the home and found a job as a receptionist at a mortgage loan company. She ended up learning the ropes and became a loan processor--with no prior training and no college degree.

My mom has always insisted that we can be anything we want to be and that there is nothing we can't accomplish. And she truly believes it. She has raised us 3 girls to stand up for ourselves against anyone, to not let anyone push us around and to always fight for what we believe in. And she proved it in her actions. All my life I remember her battling with her weight. A few years ago she finally decided it didn't matter what anyone else thought, she was going to change her life---for HER. And she did. Over the next 2 years she changed the way she cooked and ate and she became more mobile and lost 150 pounds.

From watching her and her sisters, we learned that your sisters are your best friends, that when everyone else fails, your sisters will still be there and no matter how much they may irritate you, you need to cherish that relationship.

Because of my mom. the scent of Lysol is the smell of freshly made beds, open windows with the spring breeze drifting in and a clean house. You always knew you had clean sheets on the bed when you could smell the Lysol. The smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven means you are loved. It means you got to sneak bites of cookie dough while being warned against all the perils of raw eggs and then you got to eat warm, gooey cookies with a glass of milk. Just because. I associate banana bread, zucchini bread, pies, sugar cookies, molasses cookies, and fruit cake (even though I refuse to eat fruit cake) with warm kitchens, gift baskets, well-used aprons and love. Yes, I associate food with love. But when you grew up with a mom like mine, who could cook like mine (fried chicken, beef stroganoff, lentil soup, lasagna, chili, the best cinnamon rolls in the ENTIRE. WORLD.), you learn you're loved when someone goes through the effort to feed you like she did.

I love my mom, and not just because she made my bed and was a great cook. I love her because after I grew out of my desire to always dress like her in 4th grade-size business suits and pantyhose, and I found my own style that was completely opposite of hers, she would shop for me, knowing that if she hated the pattern or color, I would probably love it. And she'd shop for me anyway.

My love of books and reading came from her. There was never a trip or vacation or a day off that she didn't have a book in her hand.

I think my love of laundry came from her as well. I have very vivid memories of coming home from kindergarten and early elementary and finding her in front of the TV watching "Young and the Restless" or "Days of Our Lives" with piles of folded laundry around her.

She was involved in our schools, in our PTAs, in our lives. She knew our friends and the kids we went to school with. If we got excited about something, she helped us pursue it. She encouraged us, cheered us on and even gave us a kick in the butt when we needed it.

When our hearts were broken from boys or "friends", she was quick to reassure us that they weren't worth the tears or that they were just "jealous". Of what I never figured out but I appreciated the effort.

She's been an awesome grandma to her 7 grandkids and has always provided a warm, loving, stable home to all of them. All of her kids (and even those grandkids) have come back home to live with them at some point and she just opens her doors to them.

I know my mom feels like she isn't appreciated, like we don't notice all the things she does. But we do. She is the one who taught me to leave notes in my kids' lunches, who taught me you don't have to have a man around but to appreciate it when you do, who taught me to never leave home without clean underwear in case you get in an accident, who taught me how to make blackberry cobbler when camping, who taught me to love really sappy love stories, who taught me how to make a bed so tight you can bounce a quarter off it, who taught me how to cook enough spaghetti to feed 8 but never how to cook for 1, who taught me that Vick's is a wonder drug, who taught me that when it comes to your kids you can become a rabid wolverine or a soft, snuggly mama cat--whatever the occasion calls for, who taught me it's never too late to go after something you want, who taught me to be true to yourself, even if it goes against what everyone else is doing.

I may try hard not to stress like she does or to limit my refrains of "were you born in a barn?", but I can't say that growing up to be like my mom could ever be considered a bad thing.

1 comment:

  1. I love you so much honey. Now I am sobbing :-) You have grown up to be a wonderful momma :-)