5/14/2006

Why my mother is my hero

I'm not very good at waxing eloquent on the spot about people I know and love, like the times we are given a chance to speak about our mother at church on Mother's days. Maybe it has something to do with the public speaking part of it. It also seems far too overwhelming to actually get across all that needs to be said in a short amount of time. So...I may not do much better here but these thoughts have been running around in my head a lot lately, so for once I'm somewhat prepared.

I think most of all it's that big old cliche, which like all cliches is so irritatingly true, that becoming a mother myself makes my appreciation and understanding of my own so much greater.

I know my mother is probably cringing with embarrassment already and I haven't even said anything. I'm sorry but it's time. Time to give some praise and thanks and all that.

First thing to acknowledge: My mother raised four kids. Already I'm amazed. Back up a little here. My mother gave birth to four kids without an epidural (or much else for pain), two of them at home. My mother used cloth diapers for all four of her kids. My mother prepared three meals a day for all of us, year after year, day after day. No takeout, no running out to grab some pizza...these things might have happened once or twice in our older years but it just wasn't something that happened as a matter of course. That right there would be enough to send me to the loony bin.

Ok, big deal. Many people might think to themselves, "So what? My mother did that too and more..." Well, I'm not done yet. Let's talk about how and when and where. I'm still going to win the Best Mother award here.

Let's talk about the fact that my mother lived in the same house with her husband's parents from the time that she was married until her oldest was fifteen or sixteen (that's my guess)- close to 20 years. Now, my mother loved her mother and father in-law and she was also living with the assurance that this was where God wanted her and I'm sure these things helped. But, just think about it a little.

Not only were my grandparents dearly loved by my mother, they were also in positions of authority as a minister and his wife and very respected by my mother as well as many others. And they were certainly worthy of respect. I don't remember ever seeing or hearing them show anger or irritation and I lived with them. Can you imagine having to raise young children across the hall from someone you greatly respect? (Someone besides your own husband, I mean!)

I think of this sometimes when my exasperation reaches it's limit for the twentieth time in one day and I raise my voice or say something horrible or yes, even throw something. How did my mother do it? How did she deal with all the daily trials of giving, giving, giving to little ones under the scrutiny (whether they meant to scrutinize or not) of other people? How did she stay sane while trying to keep us quiet, well-behaved, clothed, fed and clean and then attend daily prayer meetings and keep to someone else's schedule?

My mother has never complained about this life. I know it wasn't easy but if you ask her, she'll start naming all the good things about it. I've never heard her complain about or cut down other people in a mean or gossipy way. Never. And it's not as if she wasn't ever hurt. I wonder where I came from!

Now, it sounds as if I'm my mothers biggest fan right? Well, she knows more than anyone that it wasn't always that way. We are too much alike and I was often irritated by her. In fact, angelic child that I was, I once made a list of things that my mother did which I vowed never ever to do to my own kids. (Things like, "I will never cry in front of my kids.") I think I've done them all actually. And that's what she had to put up with.

If you don't know my mother you are probably thinking, well, this woman must have had some stiff drinks to escape with at the end of the day, right? Ahhhh,no. No escapes. My mother didn't have much of an outlet at all that I know of. She didn't have much time for books or knitting or hanging out with friends or yoga or any leisure pursuit. Sometimes I wish that she had been able to take more time for herself but she puts herself last. I know she would say that her walk with God has sustained her and I believe her. That and a loving, supportive husband of course. I don't mean to negate those things.

And I don't mean to paint a bleak picture of our lives. Both of my parents worked hard to make many happy memories for us and as a child I was totally oblivious to any hardship or strangeness in our circumstances. That's part of what I mean about motherhood giving me a different perspective.

There's really so much more I cannot even cover.

My mother was at my side for the labor and birth of my first son and she made me feel like a hero even though I was ready to give up and said over and over, "I can't do this!" My mother stood by my side and held my second son after he was born and cried with me. She arrived as soon as she could for the birth of my third son and delighted in every feature with me.

A year and a half ago, my mother stood by and watched her own son, her only son, who brought light to her life and who could make her laugh at herself like no one else, dying in front of her. A mother's first instinct is to reach out and help. This was her child. She had soothed his fears at night, made effort in every detail to please and encourage him, buy the salsa and chips he liked, pick out the right kind of bread for his sandwiches, make sure he got up in time for school, insist that he take some garlic when he felt sick. And all she could do was stand by helpless and watch.

No one would fault her if she lost her faith, shook her fist at God, or even just complained a little. But she hasn't. Her heart is broken but she doesn't question or rage against God.

I guess it's time for me to make a new list. A list of the ways I'd like to be more like my mother. And right up at the top would be this: To have half of her faith.

11 comments:

Claire said...

Wow. Pretty amazing post for a pretty amazing woman. Thankyou for writing this. I hope you don't mind that I linked to it from my blog...

lis said...

Amen.

Good work, Liane.

Mrs. RF said...

Wow Liane. Well done. You sure do have a special Mom, and you were able to put it so well in words. She is such a blessing and encouragement to all of us.

janelle said...

Pat is a dear!

A close second to my own mother who reared her firstborn through her terrible two's under the watchful and sometimes not-so-very empathetic eyes of Mrs. Godfrey!

The older I get the more I recognize how much she did RIGHT and how inadequate I am, even on my best day!

Love the mamas!

DJ said...

All I can say is
Amen...

the Joneses said...

A very touching post. We simply didn't realize what our mothers accomplished until we became mothers ourselves!

-- SJ

Avalanche Cowpoke said...

Well said there gurl!!! Your Momma's among the best ever!!!

melbrown said...

Amen and amen. Great post, Liane.

Linds said...

Wow, Liane - beautiful!

karena said...

Amen times 100! I think I need a couple boxes of tissues now...wow, double wow, and even that doesn't say enough. You should print this out, and save it somewhere.

Carrie F said...

Your mom Rocks and so do you Liane!!