This week my kindergarteners were writing reports (okay, 3 sentences, but epic writing for 5 year olds) about the main gals in their lives… their moms! This week I also dodged questions of when I was going to become a mama (from both students and parents 😉 ), and my little class started to fixate on the shocking revelation that their teacher has a mommy, too.
In our class reports, we needed to describe our moms. Two words came to mind with my own… “silly” and “wise”. Growing up, I had a mother who helped me find the humor in situations, was able to lighten the mood with her goofiness, and parented a bit different that other moms I knew. Looking back, I see her little quirks in a different light as an adult. Her lightheartedness does not equate shallowness. These silly memories taught me more life wisdom than serious sit downs with my parents. I have always deeply loved my mother, but as I get older, I gain increasing respect for her godly wisdom as a mother.
Lessons I learned from my mom…
FFYN– “Fend for Yourself Night” Some nights, you just aren’t up for making a big family dinner. My mom worked full time, did an incredible job juggling all her church and volunteer work, and bussing me to all my sports games and practices. She also almost always was making something delish after she got home from work. However, there were some nights where we called an “FFYN” … Making our own dinner gave mom a break, released her from the expectation to be chef every night, and gave an opportunity to have shared responsibilities in the household. When I got a bit taller and could reach the stove, I could start making dinner for the family. It felt good and natural to be a contributing member of the household, even through the simplicity of sharing meal responsibilities. These nights, though deemed “Fend for Yourself”, taught me that our family is a TEAM and that it runs smoothly only when all hands are on deck, sharing the load, and searching for ways to serve each other.
Prayers for Parking Spaces– Growing up next to one of the largest malls in the world, I was consistently disappointed when other shopping experiences lacked the rollercoasters and underground aquariums of our little market place. My mom used to pull me out of school the first Friday of December to do mother-daughter Christmas shopping. This annual event included the treasure hunt for a parking space…this mammoth mall did not have a parking garages to match. My mom used to have me pray to find a good parking spot. It’s so trivial, one year I argued with her, declaring that God doesn’t care about that stuff! My mom, little miss theology major, countered that our all-powerful, omniscient God cares about even the minutia of our lives. If memory serves me correct I believe she quoted Luke 12:6-7 which says, “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” To this day, I won’t forget the insight my mother gave about how my Savior cares for me and no problem is too small to surrender to the Lord.
Dancing in the Kitchen and Car Karaoke– Doing the tango in the kitchen to classic 1970s disco and singing Celine Dion and Shania Twain at the top of our lungs would have probably embarrassed me years ago if anyone had found out… but I look back fondly of my mom, so unashamedly embracing (and initiating) the goofiness with her daughter. Her effervescence and laughter were contagious. I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
Mental Health Days– Imagine a ragamuffin 8-year old at the breakfast table telling her mom she needs a “mental health day” from school. In our household that wasn’t too uncommon. Early on, my mom was very adamant that she did not want me to make up being sick if I didn’t want to go to school that day. Instead, she casually established that every quarter (as long as my grades were solid) I could request a “mental health day” to stay home and have a break from the stress of school. This simple gesture taught me that my mom valued honesty over convenience, that mental health is as important as physical health, and personal responsibility. It also demonstrated love as she knew her child and wasn’t afraid to parent a little differently to fit those needs.
Making our Own Bedtime Story– Though my childhood bookshelves overflowed, I don’t distinctly remember reading with my parents at night. We had a different bedtime ritual. Mom would snuggle up with me and each night we would continue the ongoing saga of our imaginary characters in our (slightly culturally appropriating) story of a family like ours. We would take turns building upon these adventures over years and years. Looking back, mom made deeply personal memories and fostered imagination and creativity by taking the time with her little girl.
Folding the Toilet Paper– My mom folds the toilet paper into little triangles after she cleans. One Christmas, she monogramed towels for our guests. She personalizes guest rooms for the people staying there with pictures of their loved ones. She labors over little touches, like adding toothpick flags to Memorial Day desserts. She’s over the top. But it truly isn’t because she is out to impress anyone. My mom LOVES people. Not that she’s a total extravert, but she CARES so much for people to feel loved, taken care of, and welcomed in her home… that sometimes she gets a bit carried away. It’s not putting on a façade to put extra effort in order to show people that they are thought highly of in your home, and in the eyes of the Lord. If anyone has the gift of hospitality, it’s my mama.
Get the Victory– I was by far, an imperfect child. I was loquacious and my overactive, untamed tongue got me into heaps of trouble. I remember my mom telling me, “Go get the Victory!” and sending me into the living room with a Bible and The Book of Virtues. I would sit there and have to look up my sin and read about it and then look up the virtue that countered where I had come up short. My mom, who was determined to us her degree in Christian Education and Theology, did me a great service. The focus shifted from what I did wrong, to how to live rightly. I could not fix my problems in my own strength, but my victory came only through Christ. She helped guide me through scriptures, parables, and classic literature about how to live with integrity.
There are so many incredible mothers out there. My kindergarteners are all convinced that their mom takes the cake. And for them, it may be true. For me, God know exactly what I needed in a mother to shape me and draw me close to my Heavenly Father. As I grow older, my appreciation for her unconventional wisdom grows. My mother is not perfect, but she was perfect for me. And I could not ask for more.