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Growing up, the joke was, I was the favorite. As the oldest of four children, I had the most baby books. The albums capturing many of the “firsts” a mom experiences. The snapshots including my first camping trip, first day of school, graduations, birthday parties, you name it, my mom always had her camera. Of course, now as a mother of two, I know the number of pictures (and there are a tons between the four of us) is no reflection of being the favorite, but rather having the time to do it. (since this was back when you took a picture, got it developed and put it into an album. no computer, no downloading, no digital pics or email to share them!)
My mom’s love story is much different than mine. She fell in love with my dad in high school, went to nursing school, got married at 21 and had me by 22.
I have the fondest memories of my childhood, and it had a lot to do with my mother. She took some time off her nursing career to take care of me and eventually my sister before working her way back into the field when my youngest sister came along. But she always made time for us. She is silly and goofy, and loves to play dress up (even now as a Grandma), but wasn’t always hovering. She gave us space and needed some of her own. I remember more than once hearing, “go play outside!” And we did. I don’t know what she did, probably a mix of laundry, cooking or maybe enjoying one of those Pepperidge Farm cookies she loved so much in peace and quiet!!
When it came to the holidays, my mom made them really special, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, even Valentine’s Day, she really went all out for us. My mom is a very thoughtful gift giver. She basically shops all year (and loves every minute of it!) for trinkets one of us would like. But, it’s not the gifts I remember most. It’s the smell of the Village Candle burning at Christmas while the Carpenters or Johnny Mathis sings Christmas carols on their record player. It’s the ornaments that cover their humungous Christmas tree, half of which, my mom made herself when she was little. It’s the decorations we made in preschool that she saves and adores. They say home is where the heart is, and that couldn’t be more true for me. I grew up in the house my parents still live in. Every time I pull in the driveway, I smile.
At some point, mothers and daughters often struggle with their relationship, it’s a complicated one for sure. For many, it’s the teen years, the combination of all those hormones with the desire to, for me, talk on the phone non-stop with my friends and ignore my parents completely. I have to say, although my mom knew I made some poor choices along the way, she never made me feel bad about it. There were boyfriends that came and went, some she liked, others she didn’t. But, rather than tell me I couldn’t see them anymore, she let me figure it out myself. When it came to my friends, she was/is always a great supporter. She always asks how they’re doing , how their families are, and maybe will share a story or two about something silly or scary we did when we were little (like that “scratch” on the truck!) She really doesn’t forget a thing… ever!
When it came time for me to go to college, I got nervous as my parents were about to leave. I’ll never forget what my mom said, “this is like when you were in fourth grade, and your teacher kicked you out of class because you were talking too much, you’ll make plenty of friends!” She always knew how to give me that gentle nudge. Same thing when I got my first job offer right after graduation. It was in another state, I was extremely hesitant about going and moving a plane ride away at 21. But, my mom again, stepped in and gave me that encouragement I needed to get my career started on the right foot.
It was a good experience, and one I have to thank her for. She knew I could handle it and should take the job.
Years later, and at a job closer to home…I met my husband. I remember when my mom first met him. She liked him, I could tell, right off the bat. Thank God. My parents were hosting dinner at their house when she burped. She immediately burst out laughing while my husband stopped chewing and looked up shocked that such a beautiful, svelte woman had produced such a loud noise. “Oh!” I said, “that’s the first time you heard that!” The rest of us had already gotten used to it! She blames me for it, says she never burped like that until she was pregnant with me!
But, when I became a mother for the first time, that’s when I began to understand just how powerful a mother’s love is for her children. That unconditional love. That need to protect them from anything and do anything for them.
My mom, along with my sisters, was at the hospital when I was in labor, past visiting hours, waiting to see her third grandchild.
Seeing her snuggle her made my heart melt. (They also brought me a ham and cheese sandwich from the local deli which I was craving my entire pregnancy so that didn’t hurt!)
But seriously, knowing I had my mom there was extremely comforting to me. I knew there would be countless questions and concerns and no one better to answer them.
When I went into labor the second time, my mom shushed my concerns about having her drive to my house late at night and insisted she would come and watch my oldest daughter. Sometimes mother does know best!
So, mom, I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with you, even now that we live in the same state, but I treasure you, your love and your compassion. I know you always have my best interest at heart, even when, as a daughter sometimes, I don’t want to hear it. So thank you for being there… Always. I’m so blessed and hope to be half the mom to my children as you are to me. Happy Mother’s Day!