Happy Mother’s Day

Struggling to make sense of your relationship with your mother is a tale almost as old as time itself, isn’t it?

I have good news for those of you who are still in the midst of the struggle: there may come a time when you don’t.

I know it’s possible.

My mother and I have a mutual respect and a deeper love for each other, now, than I ever thought possible.

She means more to me than I could ever have imagined she would.  Much more.

That, in and of itself, is a gift of epic proportions.

So, to my mama…

Mama, I know that Ahab often gets the credit for instilling a love of The Ocean in us kids. But, I give a lot of that credit to you, too. It was you who packed us up, religiously, each and every Saturday, to head to the beach for the day. You, along with the three other mothers in our Beach Family, and enough cold tuna noodle casserole, Cheezits, and Crystal Light Iced Tea to feed an entire classroom full of children, would herd us 8 children into vans and onto the hot sand with promises of hours of unfettered free time.

I felt the most free when we were at the beach each Saturday.  You allowed me to run and swim and play and eat Cheezits until you thought I’d turn into one. And, although I now understand (OH, how I understand!) that in doing so, you also were getting some much needed breathing room yourself, I never felt more loved on than when you would allow me to just be me at the beach.  There were no comments of being ladylike, eating less, or being more like so-and-so. No. None of that. You packed us up and took us to the place where we could all get out and blow the stink off.  And you showed your love in that one act.

I am so grateful for your willingness to take us out there for fresh air and sunshine.

Grilled cheese sandwiches, with the cheese blackened on the top, are still a favorite of mine to this day.  Those and the chicken noodle soup that always accompanied it, were the only things I really remember about the times I was sick. And, I remember you lovingly (and maybe with more than a hint of frustration on the tenth and twentieth times) putting the socks back on my hands, to keep me from scratching at the chicken pox that covered my body when I was six.

I am so grateful for your tender loving care.

And I also look back on all of your attempts to take us on mother-daughter trips with a softer perspective. You desperately wanted me to want to go – shopping, out to lunch, to a movie. I can see, now, that you really just wanted us to have opportunities to do things together.

And, I’m so grateful that you tried.

I love you mama.  It took me an awful long time to realize that I am, indeed, blessed to call you “Mom”. And I want you to know how much I look forward to every new memory we carve out together in the future.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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.