Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mother's Day

I am not a fan of manufactured holidays.  There is a part of me that resents feeling manipulated and being made to feel guilty about something new in my life.  "Greeting card" holidays of "Hallmark holidays" are pushed upon us from all kinds of angles.  There are days like "Boss's Day," "Secretary Day," and "Grandparent's Day," that have yet to catch much steam.  Then there are the big 3: Valentines Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day; These days loom on the calendar with societal expectations that often take the sincerity out of loving gestures and replaces them with minimum requirements.  

I've never felt like I needed a day to show love to those who are important and cherished to me.  I hope my loved ones feel appreciation from me on a regular basis.  I prefer to buy flowers for Nellie out of the blue as opposed to only buying them when their prices spike and my purchasing power diminishes. I likewise enjoy spending time with my parents when there is no particular reason to do so.  

Despite my internal aversion toward being told there are specific days that I need to show someone that I love them, I have come to appreciate the "big 3" as days of reflection.  With Mother's day approaching this year my thoughts have returned often to the mothers in my life.  
Mom and I at Eva's Witch Party last Halloween

My own mother is wonderful and charming.  She has a lot of personality and is funny, loving and quirky.  She isn't afraid of being a little silly in spite of the fact that she will turn the big 6-0 this year.  Because of her, I've always felt like it was okay if I didn't become too 'grown-up.' As a young girl she decided she wanted to have 12 children.  Remarkably she very nearly reached that goal, coming up 2 short.  As a father of three, I'm astounded that she and my father were able to raise 10 fairly-respectable children. 

Looking back, I realize that she often sacrificed what she wanted for what we needed.  She was at home the whole time I was growing up.  Some of my earliest memories are of her teaching me how to read as I sat on her lap.  She was always available to make sure we learned life lessons.  I remember riding by a church attended by those whose faith was different from mine and remarking that those people were wrong and bad, somehow thinking such a comment would elicit parental approval.  Instead, she took the opportunity to condemn such a thought and explained to me that there were wonderful people everywhere--no matter what they believed.  

She taught us how to work.  When I was struggling to learn to complete a job well, she gave me the responsibility to do the dishes every night until I figured out how to do it well for a week straight.  She laughs when she talks about it now, but it must have been so frustrating watching me get close, but ultimately fail for 2 years before her resolve finally broke.  She's conceded to me that she felt like that was a parental failure, but oddly enough, the lesson sunk in.  What can I say--I'm a slow learner.

I love my mother and respect her more all the time.  She continues to be a source of strength to me in my life.
My mom and Eva in matching orange stripes

Nellie teaching the kids to write thank-you notes
In the year since last Mother's Day I have watched the mother of my own children with increased appreciation.  Nellie has always been a wonderful mother.  When we added Scott to our family she became an instant mother.  She was wonderful from the start.  Intuitively she knew how to comfort and teach.  As our family added Eva and then Eleanor, her capacity has only increased.  She is the one the kids all prefer. Our family has one momma's boy and two momma's girls.  

Last August when Eva ended up at Primary Children's Medical Center, I witnessed what a wonderful mother she really is.  She was up in Washington state visiting her grandma.  Despite my protests that she couldn't do anything by coming home early, she was on the first plane home.  It wasn't until she arrived early in the morning and climbed into bed with our daughter that things really began to get better.  The whole time Eva was in the hospital she was there for every need and never complained.  When Eva recorded her own narrative of what she'd been through the bullet were: 1) I got sick, 2) I went to the hospital, 3) Mom came, 4)Everything is better.  There was no mention of me taking her from Instacare, to hospital, to ER, to ER, to PCMC, it was simply: mom came and everything was better.  

Nellie helps our children to understand and complete their homework, she ensures they are reading and learning and realizing their potential.  She is the spiritual giant in our home and teaches the gospel through her goodness.  Our children have the opportunity to learn charity by example.  She is patient as the day-is-long and is okay with the mess our kids make as they embark on creating another artistic masterpiece.  She is the rock of our home.  When she had surgery recently and was required to be in bed the better part of two weeks our family felt her absence.  If it wasn't for others who stepped in to fill the void, we would have been in big trouble.  Seeing life without her being able to complete her day-to-day routine helped me to more fully appreciate her contribution to our family life.

Apart from my mother and my wife, there are many more mothers in my life.  I have a wonderful mother-in-law and countless family members.  Our children have created an amazing network of adopted "grandmas" and "aunts" in their lives and they are each mothers to our family.  These wonderful women are always there supporting us and providing strength, comfort, and love.  I am truly humbled by their presence in our lives.  

As I celebrate the mothers in my life this Mother's Day, these are some of my thoughts.  I could probably write a lot more, but who'd want to read that?  I think this video sums motherhood up wonderfully.  

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