I’ve always known I have an amazing mom, but as the years have passed, I shake my head in wonder at the life my mom has lived. Mom’s life hasn’t always been easy. It’s been filled with sacrifices, challenges and trials, but not being afraid of hard things is just one of the lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) from Mom. Disclaimer: I do not claim to have mastered the many lessons mom has taught, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t teach them. In fact, while I was lucky enough to have a mom who read to us, taught family night lessons and homemaking skills, most of what she taught was from her example. Here are a few of the lessons Mom taught.
To write letters – Never have I known anyone who was better at corresponding that Mom is. Probably her biggest obsession and personal indulgence is paper products. Mom is a sucker for pretty cards. Then she uses those cards to say thank you, hope you’re feeling better, I miss you, I’m proud of you, and more. Personal, hand-written correspondence is almost a lost art, but Mom has done her part to keep it alive. Even with us living just an hour away, she and Veronica exchange almost weekly letters.
To love babies -- She had eleven of her own and would willingly have had more. But even that many babies doesn’t stop mom from loving every grandchild, every niece and nephew and really about any baby she sees.
That we are our children’s defender – Mom taught me that Mom’s MUST defend their children—from injustice, from bullying, from mean teachers, from the world. I’ll never forget her following a bully (who was bigger than her) home from the school bus because he'd been picking on her children. She was fearless.
That we are our children’s cheerleader – With eleven kids, I can’t even imagine how exhausting it must have been to listen to every story from school, attend every concert, sporting event, art night, dance program, and more. But she did and made us feel like she loved it. Even now, with dozens of grandchildren, she and Grandpa still try to attend at least one game of each grandchild during each sports season. They also attend the grandchildren's spelling bees, concerts and plays.
To fulfill church assignments – Mom is more than willing to be in the background. She doesn’t like a lot of attention and she’s not an exhibitionist. Her favorite callings have been behind the scenes—a small primary class or compassionate service leader. But when asked, she has nervously, but willingly, taken the role of leader. She’s always done what she’s asked.
To do it ourselves (make the things you can’t afford) – Mom never wanted us to do without, so when graphic tees came into style, she used fabric paints and made graphic tees. When western shirts with snaps came into style, mom learned how to use a snap tool and made the boys snap-up western shirts. When everyone was getting cabbage patch dolls, Mom made us cabbage patch dolls. She was always good at seeing something that we couldn’t afford and making a version of it for us.
Creativity -- Mom taught me to be creative. She sewed most of our clothes. She made dolls. She quilted. She cross-stitched. She fabric painted. She decorated our home with the things she made. If we needed curtains, she made curtains. When I was asked to prom, she made a prom dress.
To accept the Lord’s will – Mom had two miscarriages and lost a son to death in a car accident. Even though there were really hard things, Mom taught by example that we need to accept the Lord’s will. When I was eighteen, she had her last miscarriage. Dad was out of town so she called me at work and asked if I could come home and take her to the doctor. On the way home, brokenhearted, she said, “It must have been the Lord’s will.” No bitterness. Just acceptance. I’ll never forget that.
To work hard – Mom fed a huge family on a budget by baking her own bread, making butter and cheese from our own cows (this included straining milk and washing huge pieces of equipment), and more. She moved bedrooms around more than anyone I’ve ever seen, even though it was an enormous job. She canned and gardened and did laundry. The work never ended and she did it willingly and I don’t remember her complaining.
Patience – We kids fought. We complained about helping. Some of us (me especially) were not great students. Through it all, Mom was patient. When I think about how long it would take me to do a sink full of dishes, I don’t know how mom stood it.
To love good books – Mom loved to read and introduced me to Jane Austen and Bess Streeter Aldrich, two of my favorite authors to this day. In spite of how busy she was, she read Where the Red Fern Grows and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to us at night before we’d go to bed.
That it’s okay to stay home from school once in awhile – I never wanted to go to school. Most days she made me go. I was rarely allowed to stay home unless I could demonstrate a fever (which I learned to do by putting a thermometer under hot water or on a light bulb). I now know she wasn’t really fooled. Surely, when she saw a fever of over 105 and didn’t instantly run me to the emergency room, she had to know I was just needing a day off—a day to stay home and help or watch gameshows. Because of that, I occasionally let my kids have a day off. It’s good for all of us!
It is impossible for me to ever thank Mom enough for the lessons she taught me, the incredible example she has been and is, and the wonderful friend that she is. I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!