What Mama Did

You might be wondering, “Um, Missy, is this still Five Minute Friday?”.  I know, I know.  I like to shake things up once in a while.  This actually still is a Five Minute Friday post.  It’s Lisa-Jo that’s shaking things up a bit this week. And I like it!  She has been highlighting four very different writer-friends’ posts on the theme of “What Mama Did” each day, this week.  Each writer has shared a Mama Memory and how their lives were touched because of it.  You really, really should go check them out! Each one is so very good and unique. Click here to walk down Memory Lane with them. And click the button below to read some other memories.  I’ll just bet you connect with one or nine of them by reading’s end! (And I can’t help but wonder how many tender phone calls will go on today, or soon, between mother and daughter or son. I’d love to be a fly on the phone lines to hear. Oh, I would.)

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Here is my own contribution:

WHAT MAMA DID

Go…

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I think my facial expression captures “Teen Angst” perfectly, no?

Journals and diaries never held all that much appeal to me when I was a preteen. Does that shock you?  I knew they were a great place to store all of your angst and sorrow and bubbling expectation.  I did.  But I never seemed to be able to write in them with any consistency.  And I liked consistency. I craved it.

When we are young, we don’t understand why our mothers might foist their own desires for success or perfection or popularity upon us.  When we, too, become mothers, understanding dawns brightly.  And sometimes, too brightly.

The Nana might not be aware of it, but I was watching her, like a hawk, as I grew up into the woman that I am today.  I have many things to thank her for; but the one that might surprise her most, is my love for writing. And for one particularly heart-wrenching experience that I had with a writing of her own.

As a teen, our relationship was especially tumultuous. Especially.  Her desires for me to live out my days in a manner that would allow her to feel a sense of accomplishment burdened me. I struggled mightily to make sense of my own existence, let alone that of my mother.

This particular day that I am remembering, my passionate mother and my equally passionate father engaged in one horrific verbal battle that seemed, to my 15 years, epic and final.  The whole house was fraught with tension.  She left.  It felt like days.  Rehashing this particular episode with her, as an adult, she claims she was only gone for hours.  It felt like days.

I was going through the hope chest in the guest bedroom. This wasn’t just any old hope chest.  This wooden chest was deep and long and could fit a man’s body inside of it. Easily.  I sometimes, as a young child, would walk by it very quickly, just sure that a person would jump up out of it and snatch me away.

But this chest held things far more precious than a body.  The Nana’s wedding dress.  Baby dresses that I did not know she felt sentimental enough to keep. Snips of first haircuts.  Teeth, that I had mistakenly believed the Tooth Fairy possessed. Scraps of quilts that had promise but were never realized.

And a journal.

Buried deep, underneath the piles of fabric and clothes and baby casts and shoes, was a journal.  My mother’s.

I’d never dared to look at it before.  I’d never dared see what her heart was crying out about.  I suppose, I didn’t really want to know.

I did this day.

As I searched through the chest, I became frantic with the need to know what she had written that made her tuck it, furtively, into the chest and then storm out of the house.

What I read in that journal, while she was gone, brought confusion and pain into an already confused and pained teenage existence.

And in that moment, I realized the power of the written word.

From that very day onward, I knew that a word written with every ounce of the emotion with which it is felt, is powerful.

And I began my own journaling, in earnest, right then and there.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go call my mother.  And thank her.

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26 thoughts on “What Mama Did

    • Restoration… of course, Christina. Leave it to you to put an encouraging and positive spin on the now versus then of our relationship. Thank you, friend. Thank you.

  1. This was so insightful. I love that photo. I have a few just like that. Sometimes I read back over my journals through the years and it’s too painful. I can’t imagine reading my mother’s. I hate the thought of seeing me naked — much less seeing my mother. You are brave and very compassionate.

    • Jamie – what a powerful (and appropriate, I’d say) image of how our writings leave us feeling sometimes. Naked. Thank you for the kind thoughts and words.

  2. So, sometime in life we need to meet. We seem a lot alike. I hated journaling as a teen too, but now I write and write and write. I think we are a lot alike that way. I also love the pix you posted. You look so uncomfortable in that dress. Ha! Oh, and by the way, I made my mom cry today.

    • Ha, indeed! You have no idea how uncomfortable that dress was. Writing is therapeutic, isn’t it? I hope you and your mom had a “good” cry!

  3. Dear Missy
    I am so blessed by all the different ways the girls remember their mothers, but your memories of your mom, reminds me so much of my dad. He was a poet and I inherited a lot of my love for literature from him. Over via FMF.
    Much love
    Mia

    • Hi Mia! I love that your father passed down his love of literature. Skills in poetry elude me. I am awed by those who can weave words that way.

  4. Great job…This was a daunting Five Minute task. These posts will undoubtably be so different from each other today. I enjoyed reading yours…and I’m very glad you have the opportunity to call her and thank her….and that you have a relationship that reflects your gratefullness.
    Sue

    • I agree, Sue! This was a daunting task. And in all honesty, I just could not stop myself at the 5 minute mark. Our relationship now is a beautiful gift from a God who knew the end from the beginning (and thankfully, still does) – because I never could have imagined being able to call her and just “chat” Even 15 years ago.

  5. Oh, I love this. The revelation of a mother’s heart. That’s kinda what I wrote about, too, but in a completely different context. Glad your mom left you the gift of writing! You use it well.

    • Becky, that picture gave me pause for all of 3 seconds. Until I realized that every one of us has to have some sort of similar picture from whether we were 2 or 22. Thank you for the kind words!

  6. Thank you for sharing this Missy. I can remember the burden of expectation and trying to live up to it – daunting. But what precious memories you have here – and what a powerful reminder of the strength of words!

    • Oh, that burden of expectation. It can stifle. But it also leaves very intense marks and provides LOTS to write about later on. Thank you for the visit!

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