I had a different blog post almost ready for today, but I have something more important to write about.
My mom. Elane LaVelle.
I was having a theological conversation with a wise woman the other day, about why God allows something good to happen to one person and something bad to happen to another. Of course no one really knows the answer to that. Faith allows us to trust that He does have a reason and a purpose far beyond what we can comprehend. In my late teens and early twenties, I got myself into so many situations that could have ended badly, but they didn't. A Hand of protection was on me.
I'm so grateful for that.
I have no idea why I made it through it all with such a good attitude and happy heart. But I did.
I'm so grateful for that.
Anyway, I just KNOW that the foundation of love my mom gave me played so much into who I am. I can't even begin to describe it. What she did for me, how she treated me, the ways she was there for me. Even when I was acting like a little brat day in and day out for years on end, she was always always always there for me, responding with love when I needed her. Working tirelessly to do things for me. And she was alone, she did this all by herself, while she supported us three.
I think that my mom thinks she just got lucky. That she has two kind-hearted children who love her. That I turned out the way I did by chance. I'm not sure that she truly believes she played such a huge roll in my successes. But she did.
As I think of examples I want to give, they seem so small, I can't encapsulate what she's done for me by describing these few situations. When I would call from college at 3am with a broken heart crying, she would wake up and "just talk". She never said that she had to get up early, because being there for me was more important than being tired the next day. She didn't say that to me to make sure I knew, I just knew. Even when I did that nightly for 2 months straight! (and I'm only kind of exaggerating). She encouraged me so much in theater when I was small. She believed in me with her whole heart. Her pride was evident in her smile, she thought I was the most talented and the smartest girl alive. And I was hers. She never pushed me into anything I didn't want to do, but she did make me finish what I started. She scrimped and saved and found a way to make things happen that were important. We always went on family vacations to the beach or camping or visiting friends. When I got accepted into MCT Performing Arts camp for the first time and the tuition was $410, she said we'd eat hot dogs for the whole summer if we had to, but we'd find a way for me to go. I can remember where I was standing and which phone I was talking on and even the temperature of the summer day when she said that to me, I was so excited, I loved her so much for making my dream come true. And for the next 5 years, those were the best 2 weeks of my year. She drove me 7.5 hrs to Flathead Lake every August and picked me up to see the show 2 weeks later. I always argued with her and acted like I knew it all, she allowed that but in our discussions taught me to see both sides. She wasn't organized or a perfectionist, but she was smart and effective. One way or another, she got the job done. She was warm and honest and a role model for doing what's right. She wasn't a disciplinarian and she didn't command my respect as I think she should have (know-it-all that I am, in this case mostly because I cringe at the way I spoke to her during those teenage years), but she lead me by example.
I can't ever remember hearing my mom tell a lie. Or do something to benefit herself at someone else's expense. Or act selfishly, like ever, at all. Or swear, sometimes she'd say DAMN or HELL when she was REALLY mad and then she'd cover her mouth or apologize (she still does this actually!). When her marriage didn't work out, she didn't spend any more energy on a man, she poured it all into us, leaving my little brother and I never to wonder where we stood in the pecking order of her heart. I always wondered if she were lonely, but she's a unique woman and never placed her value on her relationship status. I know she has some great love stories that she's never shared with me, so she knew what she was missing being single all those years. I think she realized that being a dating single mom was more complex than being a single single mom, and she kept it simple, for our sake and for hers.
She does what's right, she doesn't talk about it or lecture about it, she doesn't even point it out. I don't think she sees her actions as noteworthy, she doesn't praise herself and would shake her head that she's not doing anything profound. But that's just it, it's WHO she is, not only HOW she is. It's not what she's trying to do. And for all the areas she might think she lacked, just barely making it through all those years of parenting alone, she showed me how to BE, by just being her. To love fully, to work hard, to make due, to see the best in what you have, to survive on little, to find value in yourself, to try harder, to listen, to see both sides, to value quiet time alone, to work behind the scenes, to do it with out credit, to sacrifice.
When I look at those things, they are all things that I see in myself. Lessons I learned with no words. Lessons I wonder how I can possibly instill in my own children as effectively as my mom instilled them in me. Teaching without trying. Showing instead of saying.
The two things that are very different about my mom and I, as adult women, are marriage and faith. I have and want both and she has and wants neither. But what is so amazing about this, is that in wanting neither for herself, she did teach me a lot about finding both. We are both so respectful of how the other one feels. In many mother/daughter relationships I see respect missing when a child is different from her mother. I hope I can handle it as gracefully as she does when the days come where my way isn't the right way for my kids. I hope I can allow them to be open minded in finding what works for them, in getting to a place of happiness for them.
I've written a lot. I came here to say I love my mom. Because of her, I am who I am. And yet, I still haven't said enough. And I probably couldn't, she's indescribable. For those of you who know her, you will agree, but even to you, I can't possibly put in to words what it feels like to look at the core of yourself and realize that your heart was tenderly nurtured in ways you can barely comprehend. That the things you like about yourself are a direct result of the things you were loved for. Each of us has the power to make such an influence on the lives around us. Whether that is your children, your neighbors, or your friends. I continue to learn to love people as they are, and not as I want them to be. I cannot imagine how different my life would be if my mom wanted me to be someone else to love instead of the unconditional love she gave as I was, and as I am.