She turned 60 this week, but I was in the middle of a love story on her birthday, so today I will write my tribute to her.
My mom was the first Beautiful Woman in my life. My earliest memory from infancy on included her being there for me, for all of us. There was a very scary time, once, when I was a short person, lost in a sea of skirts after a special meeting at church. I looked and looked for her, and finally found that island of safety, clinging tightly to her hand.
To me, that is the analogy of what my mom was for us. There. Every day she showed up, even when she was sick. We never questioned this right of our childhood. In today’s world, women are often encouraged to request “Me Time”. My mom and many of the women in her generation did not ever seem to think of Me Time. The thought of going out for a spa treatment was as foreign to them as lumps in the mashed potatoes.
My mom celebrated us individually with funny anecdotes written in our baby books and lots of storytelling over the years. Childhood was rich with chocolate chip cookies and milk after school, favorite meals on our birthdays, and buttered popcorn with nutritional yeast flakes on Sunday nights. Mom put up with Friday night campouts in the living room many times, getting up early the next morning to cook sausage gravy and biscuits while we lazed under the covers and read.
When we wanted to embroider a sampler or decorate a cake, she showed us how, then let us make our messes while we worked on our skills. My mom gave us confidence to try things, and she insisted on perseverance with hard tasks. So what if we lived in the woods and had more leaf raking to do every fall than seemed humanly possible. Mom went out there and raked up mountainous piles with us, after which we would have an enormous bonfire and use the metal rakes to stage our own pyrotechnics show. It probably wasn’t the safest, but nothing bad ever happened. In the summertime we played in the creek daily as soon as our chores were done. It must have made a prodigious pile of extra laundry, but I can’t remember her complaining. She just taught us how to run the washer.
I am grateful now for the way Mom persisted in teaching us things we didn’t want to learn. Like washing dishes clean. I hear myself repeating her words to my children: If you do it often enough, you will learn to like it!
I grew up with the secure knowledge that disobedience most surely resulted in consequences. Sometimes we children planned our mischief to coincide with phone calls, and Mom would hang up, dole out the appropriate discipline, and call her friend back. It couldn’t have been convenient, but she wasn’t a mom because it was convenient. Have you ever had your tongue scrubbed with soap for telling a lie? I have. Once. It wasn’t fun for Mom, but she valued our souls too much to wink at sin. When there was trouble at school, my mom made us face up to the bad choices we had made. She personally drove us to the home of whoever we had wronged to make apologies. I am betting that wasn’t much fun for her either.
My mom didn’t get beauty magazines and spend hours plucking and dying and painting herself. She didn’t wear stylish clothes or worry overmuch about decorating her house in the latest fashions. She would be the first to tell you that she was not perfect. We knew that. She got discouraged and frustrated and wondered if we would ever learn. Sometimes she apologized for things she said to us when she actually had a right to say them. We also knew what she did when upsetting things happened. She went to her room and prayed.
My mom displayed faithfulness to us, and she pointed us to the great faithfulness of God. For that, I nominate her as my first Beautiful Woman.
Tomorrow: photo post on Mom’s party with her sisters and nieces. 🙂