Happy birthday mommy. We are so blessed to have the gift of you in our lives. Thank you for the example you have set for us in so many ways.
My hope is that this list will help you and I to reflect on the amazing examples of motherhood in our lives as well as learn a little from my mom’s bold example. Each mama is different and brings different things to the table, it is in learning from those who came before us that we can better hone our own mama style.
1.) We were never unsure of her love for us. There was never a day that I questioned my mom’s love. Even when I questioned her decisions as a tantrum-prone toddler, know-it-all child, or rebellious teen, I knew she was always trying to do what was best for me out of love. She wrote it on notes and said it each night before bed. But even more than with her words, she showed me with her actions. She nursed my wounds, cheered me on, and encouraged silliness and joy.
2.) She fostered a love of all good things. Books, Jesus, family, church, classic movies, Vicks vapor rub the list goes on and on. I was probably the only 10-year-old who checked out the Hans Christian Anderson movie 8 times in a row. My Mom taught us to embrace our family history by cooking different foods, read us stories each night before bed, showed us how to participate in church each week despite our wiggly bodies, and made sure we ate dinner together as a family as often as possible.
Just as my mom infused our home with good things she also wasn’t afraid to let us know when something wasn’t good. She was a no-nonsense mama in terms of giving in to requests that did not bring about good for one of us or the family. She was wise enough to pick her battles and typically her no was followed by an explanation why, which took a lot of patience and energy I’m sure.
Looking back she was right. She helped me understand what a true friend was, and how to make smart decisions about what matters. When we were very small and we were about to do something naughty she would say, “what does your smart brain tell you?” This was an attempt at getting me to make the right decision for myself. We joked as we got older about this silly phrase, but the reality is it was a tool to help me think about the choices as I was making, hoping that one day I would be able to filter the good from the bad myself.
3.) She prayed for us. This is simple, my mom knew that her and my dad were limited in their ability to parent us, so she reached out to the limitless God. She prayed for us and continues to do so. I have no doubt that these prayers have navigated me away from unsafe or harmful situations and been apart of developing my faith and relationships.
4.) She always apologized. My mom taught be a valuable lesson that no mom is perfect. When she would get upset or an argument would get too heated she always took the time to come and apologize afterward. This is such a lasting memory of humility and love for me.
Typically, I would be upset in my room, and my mom would come sit on the bed next to me and take the first step to apologize. She did not apologize because I was right, but because she recognized that we both got emotional. She would explain where she was coming from and the ways we can try communicate better going forward. I don’t think I can understate how formative this was on me as a young girl. She took those potentially negative experiences and memories and turned them into positive ones, willing to own up to mistakes and inviting me to do the same.
5.) She didn’t let us take things for granted. My mom, after the example of her parents, wanted us to understand the value of, and have respect for, family, property, and money. She taught that nothing just shows up, or is a given, but rather is a gift to be thankful for. She modeled that we are not to only to be thankful for the things we have, but then try to find a way to bless others with the tangible and intangible gifts in our life.
My mom also set an example of what hard work looked like, in and away from the home. She will be the first to tell you that you can’t have it all and every choice comes with a sacrifice, but through it all she offered the example of a driven, smart, and thoughtful worker. One of my mom’s catch phrases was “I am a woman and I can do anything!” Because of her example, I never doubted my ability to accomplish a goal. I knew things were not going to come easy and I was going to have to put in effort, but with an understanding of hard work, I could do anything.
6.) She modeled selflessness, not just in the way she cared about us, but also the way she cared for the community, our family, and especially my grandparents. One of the biggest ways she sacrificed for others was with her time. She worked a job that could have stolen every moment of her time, but she made prudent decisions to step away and be present with others. This was true when she left work early every Wednesday to sponsor our church’s youth choir, when she sat next to both her parents in the last years of their lives, and when she cheered us on at the endless neighborhood swim meets.
7.) She was real. Y’all, it wasn’t always easy. Each of us kids and parents are broken people prone to inconveniencing each other. There were seasons when us girls could not be reckoned with and when my mom was overwhelmed with responsibility, but my mom was always real about this. One memory in particular exemplifies this.
I was probably 12 years old and requesting to do something that was not allowed in our home, obviously it was very important because I don’t even remember what it was now. It was late at night, and I did not like the response she gave. If memory serves me, I kept asking “why?”, and finally my mom said with tears in her eyes, “I made a promise to God that I would take care of you, He has made me responsible for your life and I have to do my best to protect you.” She continued by saying, ” I may not always make the right choices, but I am doing the best I can. I made a promise.”
The conversation ended here, I realized it was all out of love for me.
God knew what kind of mama I needed, and I am so thankful for her in my life.