"God couldn't be everywhere, so he created mothers." -Yiddish Proverb
So, about a year ago, I wrote a little ditty about my Dad. My Hero. My Superman. But I knew then that there was an even greater force that I needed to honor. I never could quite find the words, or the right time. But I seemed to have found my voice of late, and that blog I've been "meaning to write" has suddenly become very, very clear.
While my dad has always been my hero, he's also been a bit of an enigma. He would do - and did - anything for us kids, and rarely did he get angry. Nor did he discipline often. Or take the heat. And until I became a mother, I never realized how much love my mother has - so much so that she's always been willing to "be the bad guy" for the sake of the greater good - the raising of her children.
When we were kids, my mother was the consummate "stay at home mom". In my early years I remember her taking us to the pool. Playing in the sandbox. Letting us help her can applesauce. Picking mulberries for breakfast. In grade school, I came home for lunch every day. And she let me. She made incredible homemade cakes for every birthday party, attended every school play, concert and sporting event, even every high school football and basketball game, simply to see me perform at halftime (yeah, hard to believe that this chick was a Richwoods Royalette). We had all the great traditions at all the major holidays that I have with my kids today. Summer Sunday boating always meant homemade scotcheroos and cream cheese brownies. Oh, and homemade chex mix. Yeah, Mom was the bomb. But I just didn't get it back then.
Mom set the rules, and you didn't break them. You just didn't. I'll never forget her words, because they have been repeated often to my kids. "The more we can trust you, the more we'll let you do." Very true. In high school, as long as I made curfew and woke her up when I got home, life was good. But be late? Uh, sorry. Privileges denied.
Mom didn't - and still doesn't - mince words. And I take after her. Which is probably why we didn't see eye to eye when I was a teenager. And I'll be the first to admit, I was a BITCH of a teenager. My mom was an idiot and she needed to just leave me alone to live my life. Ironically, when when a boyfriend broke up with me when I went out west to visit him at college, she was there at the airport upon my return, arms open. She knew. I fell into them and cried like a baby. When I needed advice on my career path, she had it. And it was more than just "make sure you have a nice black skirt in your closet." And I don't know how many times to this day that she's dropped everything to watch my kids, help me with the house, or be there when I called her crying, upset or joyous.
"When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it is a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway." -Erma Bombeck
So, granted. Mom usually prefaces said advice with, "It's up to you, but if you ask me..." But here's the clincher. I've asked my mom for advice SO many times, from what dress I should wear to an event, to are open-toed shoes OK in the winter, to what should I do about this relationship to did you ever want to sell us when we were teenagers? So if she comes to me with some unsolicited words of wisdom every now and again, it's her right. The thing that pisses me off is that nine times out of ten, unsolicited advice or not, she's usually right.
How does she DO that?
“The strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” -Barbara Kingsolver
You don't get where my mom is today by being a sissy. She's skydived. She's whitewater rafted. She's spelunked. She's rappelled. She's hiked. She's biked. She's parasailed. She's shot a gun. She's worn a toga. And that's just been in the past 20 years or so. But that probably doesn't hold a candle to the courage she's had to have being the mother of four children. The ups and downs. The successes and failures. The huge missteps and bad choices. And all she could do is sit back and watch. And be there. And she was.
"If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been." -Robert Brault
My mom's big on prayer. HUGE. I think at one point in each of her kids' lives, she pretty much gave us up to God. But her main spiritual contact point is the Virgin Mary. You know, because she was a mom, too. And God knows, if there was any mother who had it rough, it was Mary. So I guess my mom assumes that she "gets it". And even though our childhood antics were often met with my mom exasperating, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, save souls!" I think Mary is pretty sympathetic of what my mom has gone through over the years.
“Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young."
I couldn't find what comic or prolific writer penned this phrase, so I'm suspicious that it was in fact my mother. Four kids, four bouts of teenage angst, each one probably more drama-filled than the last. It never occurred to me why my mom would often take baths at 2:00 in the afternoon. That is, until I had kids. And I suspect that like me, she smuggled a bottle of wine in there as well. I certainly would not have blamed her.
I don't know when it happened, maybe right around the time I got married, or perhaps when I became a mom. But suddenly, I saw my mother as not the adversary I had made her out to be, but an ally. Someone who only wanted the best for me. Someone I owed more than I could ever repay. Someone who still - after everything I had put her through - wanted me as a part of her life. And I felt the same way.
After everything my mom and I have been through in my 44 years on this earth, she is the one I turn to. With good news. With bad news. With problems. With questions. She's the first person I think of to call when something good - or bad - happens. Why? Because I know she will truly, truly be happy for me. Or be sad for me. Or help me. Or just comfort me. Who knew that I would depend on her so much for so long?
"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts." -Washington Irving
Right back atcha, Mom. And yes, I do have two heroes. And you're one of them. I love you.