My mother laid the foundation for my life. Of course, as adults we tweak the foundations our parents lay to fit our own personalities and to make them our own, but the basic pieces of who I am is as a result of my mother’s persistent and loving concern for me.
I was thinking about this a lot over the past week and as her birthday is tomorrow, I wanted to honor her and share with her the best way I know how, just how important she is to me and how much I appreciate the things I learned from her.
I learned to put others first because of her unfailing love for my two sisters and I and her desire to make sure we had everything we needed in life. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we got everything we needed. That lesson in itself was important to me, but the care she took and the sacrifices she sometimes had to make in order to meet our needs was so amazing. When we were young, she made most of our clothes, taking us to JoAnn Fabric’s to pick out patterns and fabric. She would brush my long hair on Saturday night when it was wet and put it up in rollers or braids to make fun curls and waves for Sunday morning.
She made the most amazing meals from scratch and I loved eating her cooking.
I learned to look for ways to make others feel special because of something simple she did when I was young. And maybe she still does this, but I am not home anymore and miss some of these little special things that make me admire her. She used to create baked goods for the elderly women in the church and give them as Christmas gifts. She knew they didn’t have family close by and she wanted them to have a gift for Christmas. I learned to look outside my own needs and wants and see others through this simple act of giving.
I learned the value of family and making sure to keep your priorities straight in life even when it’s not always easy. My mother stayed home with us girls until I was in high school even though it meant finances were tight. In high school, she took a job not far from our home, but I remember her telling me that she made it very clear to her boss that her children were her priority and that she wanted us to be able to call her if we needed her. I assume the boss was ok with this, because we often called after we got home from school to let her know we were home and sometimes other times in the afternoon as well. I valued knowing that line of communication was always there and still call or text her knowing she will be there for me even today.
I learned to bake and make pizza from her. We made cookies and pies and cakes and cupcakes together. She let us girls decorate and I’m sure we didn’t do as good of a job as she would have, but the fact that she thought what we did was beautiful, made the whole project lots of fun. We were always eager to help with the baking.
I learned to take care of a home from her and if you look at mine now, you might wonder if I really learned or not, but she always kept an immaculate home from what I remember. We had a playroom that she allowed us to mess up, but the public areas were always well maintained in case one of dad’s parishioners would happen to drop by. She wanted the home to be welcoming. She taught us early on to clean, iron (because clothes weren’t wrinkle free back then), wash dishes, fold clothes and clean up after ourselves. We learned to set a proper table, cut up a whole chicken, put our napkins on our laps, do basic canning and freezing, and serve food. When I moved out and got married, that was one thing I didn’t have to learn and I was grateful for her meticulous training.
I learned the importance of being involved in the church from her. She was the pastor’s wife, but she went above and beyond the responsibilities that she needed to take on and she was very good at it. She led children’s church for as long as I can remember, she was a major leader of our summer VBS programs, she often played the piano for church or children’s church as she was needed, she directed or co-directed several of the children’s program’s at church, she didn’t hesitate to be part of many of the other activities at church. Because of her extensive involvement, I was immersed in the life of the church and loved doing the same thing when my children were young and I was a pastor’s wife as well.
My mother was the disciplinarian in our family and she was consistent and fair. I never questioned where my boundaries were with her. I always knew. I tried to be the same way with my own children because I felt like this was the best way to raise kids. No guess work from the kids. I always knew before I chose to do something wrong that there would be a consequence for my actions if I made that choice. It didn’t always stop me from making the wrong choice, but I didn’t go into it wondering if I’d get into trouble. I knew. I valued the strong boundaries she set for us.
One of my favorite family time memories was the evening bedtime routine. My mother would read us an Arch book (children’s Bible story books), and we would memorize verses of the Bible. Sometimes we would sing. I loved the times we snuggled up on the couch next to mom while she read the same stories over and over again. I never got bored of that and remember missing her reading to us after we all got old enough to read on our own. What a comforting time and it cemented the stories into our minds at a young age. She was concerned that we became followers of God and celebrated as each of us accepted God in our own separate times. She insisted we attend church every Sunday, even if we hadn’t had much sleep the night before. I value the habits she instilled in me even though I don’t always follow through with those today.
I am and will always be grateful for the solid foundation my mother laid in my life. Without her consistent love and care for my sisters and I, we wouldn’t have become the adults we are today. I have been blessed to have such a mother as she is to me. I wouldn’t trade her for the world. How lucky I have been in life to have been given two of the most amazing people in the world to be my parents.
Happy birthday, Mom! Thanks for everything you did to help me grow into the woman I am today. I love you bunches.