I have a card in my purse, and an idea in my brain, and I worry that my mama will be sad and lonely on the day when she should feel most loved and cherished. I am writing this, not only because I love to write about brag & about the woman who raised me all by herself, but also because I hope that my words will touch her like a gift. In place of the one I've not yet sent.
I've written things about her before: here and here, and a bunch more here. I didn't re-read those posts before starting this one, so I might be saying something I've said before, but if there is one thing I know as a mom, woman, wife, and friend...hearing the things that we've done right in our life, the things that made a difference for others, the places we matter to those we love...hearing that a few extra times, does not get old.
I'll start by saying that I cannot imagine who I'd be without my mom. I also can't imagine a life without her in it someday. Some of my favorite people have lost their mothers, some of them lost their mothers a long time ago, some in more recent years...some of them have children who will never knew their mother this side of Heaven. While I appreciate my mama without the perspective of those unimaginable losses, I am reminded of all the blessings I have, just because she is still in my life, just because she loves me more than any other human on this earth.
That perspective prodded me to invite her along on a work trip last September. It reminded me that those friends would give anything to make new memories with their mamas, and I needed to get on that while I still could. My mom and I see each other 4-5 times a year, we make a lot of new grandma memories, and that's very important, but we don't make a lot of mother/daughter memories. I'm racing and running, she's spoiling the kids, and we leave them with her to get a date night in while our cheerful free babysitter shoes us out the door.
So I took her with me to Vegas. I enjoyed her company. I marveled at the way she fumbled through security, acted worldly with the cabbie, and took pictures of me checking in at the hotel. I wasn't rushed or overwhelmed, and that made it really easy to enjoy my mom, just as she is. And let me be clear, because I'd hate for my actions to speak louder than my words in many moments. I. DO. LOVE. HOW. SHE. IS. AS. SHE. IS. Even if I'm terrible at showing it most of the time. I'm so lucky for how she is. I'm so happy for how she is. That was such an amazing trip for us. We ate, we saw, we talked, we read, we ate, we played, we walked, we laughed, we almost missed our return flight, we enjoyed. I'm ashamed to say that I don't remember the last time I simply enjoyed us that much. I loved getting to be with her, as her daughter - leaving many of the other life responsibilities for a few days. When we returned home, she had college friends in town for a mini reunion. So I got to meet old college boyfriends and their wives, her old friends and new friends, all people who love her so much. It was an amazing time for me to spend time with these people, people who loved my mom as she was before there was me, before she was a mother.
A month or so ago, I was working through a bible study, and I came to the topic of mercy. There was a question asking if there was anyone in your life who always offers mercy. Mercy isn't a word that I could define exactly, so I looked it up.
As I read more about the meaning of mercy, my mom was the only person who came to my mind. I took the question a bit further and tried to think of a time when she did not extend mercy to me, and I could not. And believe me, I deserved punishment, I was no picnic, yet she didn't/doesn't give me what I deserve. Does that mean I was raised by the most merciful woman in the world? I think so.
A while back a loved one and I were talking about wishing we had more time to connect. I told her that while she felt like we weren't connecting enough, I was connecting with her more than I do with many...and I said that I don't connect with my mom as much as I should. She asked me if that was right. The truth is it isn't right. But it is how it is. The reason is because my mom is so forgiving and gentle with me. She understands that my busy is never something personal against her. She acknowledges the stresses in my life, and that I get frazzled to a fault. When I don't call her for weeks at a time, and we are in touch through liking photos and comments, she is glad to have a window into my world. If I have a list of 3 people I must call, she drops to the bottom of the list, not because I want to talk to her the least (quite the opposite) it is because she will be the most understanding, never once have I had to worry about her wrath. It's not fair to her that it works that way, but it does. And she loves me anyway. Fully. She doesn't hold it against me, she doesn't remind me that the last time I messed up and apologized, and here I am messing up again. She forgives in a way that means I'm fully forgiven, the slate is wiped clean, again and again. Because of that, I probably screw up with her the most, she is my safe place for screwing up. It brings me to tears when I try to put into words how much it means to have that safe place with her.
As I mother my own children, I want to better remember my mother's mercy, and what that brings to me, even as a 36 year old woman. On a regular basis, I hear myself reminding them of their past faults and their past shortcomings. I am frustrated with them, not because the disobedience at hand is the problem, but because it has been a problem in the past. Because if I am really honest about it, I have not forgiven them for something that I say I have. This bible study that had my mama written all over it, talking about mercy, it was about Jesus (Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matt 5:7). Even though she isn't a believer, my mom is and always has been that example to me, she loves me like Jesus does, she loves everyone like that. A while ago, I was thanking God for teaching me about His love for me through the way I love my children. And now, even more I am thanking Him for teaching me about His love for me through the way my mom loves me.
I'm always setting goals and working on stuff. I'm always wanting to improve and fix stuff that is broken. My mom's always telling me I'm perfect just as I am, not because she doesn't want me to improve, but I think because she thinks I'm so wonderful and it pains her to see me striving all the time. There's a happy medium in there between how I see myself and how my mom's sees me, but I haven't found it yet. So I keep striving and she keeps reminding me about how great I am.
A goal I'd really like to strive toward for my mom and me is to keep intentionally making new mother/daughter memories with her. I think of how much I cherish her daily, but I tell her how much I cherish her rarely, and I want to make sure that she knows it. Like knows it knows it. I want her to know that as she feels like she's fumbling her way through life, her heart has given me a road map that leads to love and happiness and fulfillment. A roadmap that I am lucky enough to have as much of my foundation growing up. All the good things about me are her fault! She may have had a hand in some of my quirks too, but I definitely give her credit for all the good stuff.
Mom, I thank you for who you are, for the way that you love me as I am, for giving me such a safe and warm place to grow up, for making me feel so important and valuable to you, for bearing through my teenage years (always have to throw that in), for cheering me on now, even when I don't do the same for you, for blessing me with atypical selfless parenting, for helping me to believe I was extraordinary, for the incredible grandmother you are to my children, and for sharing your beautiful heart with everyone you meet. Thank you that each sacrifice you made for me was your sincere joy!
I'm sorry that there wasn't a Mother's Day card in your mailbox or a gift on your doorstep or flowers on your desk. You deserve more gifts than anybody else! I know I don't even have to say that I am sorry. You forgive me and you mean it. You love me and you mean it, with no strings attached. I pray these scattered words saved on a tiny corner of the internets, shared with you on facebook, will touch your heart as much as you deserved to be touched. I ask that you keep loving me this way, mama, so I can be a mama like you someday.
I love love love love you!