Being a mother is hard work for a lifetime. I didn't know that when I was growing up and my mom was always there to take care of me and worry about me. I know it now that I have children and grand children. I read once that having a child is like making the decision to let your heart walk around outside of your body. It's true.
I bet we drove her nuts when we were all little and running around the house and yard like ants. I remember my brothers shooting BB guns into the box of laundry soap in the basement. I remember folding cloth diapers with Mom...mountains of them when my two youngest brothers were babies. I remember sitting in the kitchen when the neighbor ladies came for coffee.
Mostly, I remember that she was always there. But when you're a kid you take that for granted. You don't realize all the work and worry that comes with being a mother.
My mom is a hoot. Once, she wore a gorilla mask to bed and when my dad crawled in and got settled, she uncovered her head and looked over at him. All he said was, "Good night, Shirley." I think he expected that kind of thing from her.
She knows how to have fun and she enjoys life. When we visit, we always go out for dinner, have a glass of wine, laugh a lot. There is no talking about your colon health with my mom. We talk about books and movies and flowers and her computer.
My mom is a brave woman. When we were all finally in school, she got a job as an aide at the elementary school. She liked the job but the little kids would get her to stand on her head during recess. She tells me about things she wants done and always ends with, "I think I could do that."
My mom is a wise woman. She knows that even with all the sorrow and trouble and worry in the world, tomorrow is a new day and there is probably a thrift store we haven't been to yet or a nice restaurant we want to try. Life is short and you want to enjoy it.
I wrote this poem about all the things I've learned from her a couple years ago. I think I published it here before but in honor of my mom on Mother's Day, here it is again.
What She Taught Me
She taught me knitting, sewing, Teeny Tiny,
and reading every night before you go
to bed. She taught me how to make things for
people you love. She taught me how to make
stuffing by letting the butter and chopped onions sit
on the stovetop overnight. She taught me how to
make spaghetti from scratch
and that leftovers make a good meal and that pets,
even messy ones who come through the screen door
during thunderstorms, are part of the family.
She taught me that it’s more important to bake
fresh cookies or to read a book than
have a clean house. She taught me that having piles
of books around your house is decorating and that wearing
a flannel nightgown until noon doesn’t mean you’re
lazy. She taught me that you invite people over
if you’re lonely. She taught me how to always
believe you can fix it yourself and to keep on learning
and that when you go on vacation you should
stay with relatives. She taught me that cookbooks make good
reading and if you don’t have what it calls
for, you use something else. She taught me that hunting
down a good deal and taking a long nap in the afternoon is
the only exercise you ever really need in life.
When my dad died, her husband of more than fifty years, she
taught me that you cry but you go on. You go on living. You keep
the ashes in the window sill, you tell stories about the memories
and you laugh and you cry. But you keep on living.
Happy Mother's Day to my mom. She's the best and I love her.