One of the things I remember most about my mother was how much she HATED Mother's Day. This saintly woman who never said a single swear word would sometimes even skip church--just deliberately stay home--one day a year: Mother's Day.
We kids didn't understand it. I remember asking her what the big deal was, and this ordinarily quiet reserved woman would say, rather dramatically, "Oh, I just can't ABIDE those sicky-sweet talks about all the perfect mothers out there. I don't want to have to stand up so they can hand me a posy. The whole thing makes me feel like such a miserable excuse for a mom."
She couldn't be serious. We still didn't get it. She was a GREAT mom. Why didn't she want to sit there and be honored? Why didn't she want the young women to hand her a geranium or a chrysanthemum on her special day? She was AMAZING. Truly.
I think she had some idea in her head, some fantasy image of how the perfect mom looked and behaved, and she never quite measured up to that ideal in her own eyes. Yes, the living room was always spotless (we even dusted the books!) but the rest of the house was often in varying degrees of chaos. Yes, she ground her own wheat and filled the whole house with the aroma of homemade bread--but maybe only a dozen or so times. More often than not we ate what was on sale at the store. Yes, she baked cookies. But she didn't have them waiting on a plate next to a glass of milk when we got home from school every day. Yes, she got up and made waffles for breakfast--but only on our birthday and the first day of school. The rest of the time she stayed in bed until we were gone so she could have the bathroom all to herself. Yes, she could cook a mean Thanksgiving dinner--but a lot of the time we ate Hamburger Helper. Yes, she was perfect. Except when she wasn't.
She was keenly aware of the number of times she had raised her voice to get us to behave, the times we walked out of the house wearing mis-matched socks (or the weeks on end my youngest brother went to school with his pajamas under his clothes "to save an extra step"). The clothes piled up in the laundry room. The dishes piled up in the sink. The homework piled up on the dining room table.
Oh, how I wish she were here to read this post, called Drops of Awesome. To say to herself, "I baked bread--I'm awesome." Instead of berating herself the rest of the time. I wish I could say to that young mother, my mother, It's not about being perfect. It's about being there. And she was there. All the time.
She was there when we needed to run inside from the cold or the rain. She was there when we needed a band-aid or a fort in the front room. She was there, with her perfect pitch, to call out from the kitchen, "C-sharp" or "B-flat" when I made a mistake while practicing the piano. She was there when I needed a good idea, a proofreader, or a listening ear. She was there with the bread and the cookies and all the other mom-trappings, but mostly she was there with her heart.
She was there when I got home from a date, ready to laugh with me about the embarrassing moments so I could go to sleep happy rather than mortified. She was there when I got home from my mission and needed to talk about things I'd learned and things I still didn't understand. She was there when I got married, amazingly laundering my dress between the ceremony and the reception. She was there when I had my first baby...feeding me ice chips and putting cool cloths on my forehead.
And the amazing thing is...she's still here, even though she passed away 22 years ago. I feel her presence and her influence often. I remember the things I learned from her. The cookies might have only lasted a minute, but the stuff she taught me (mostly through example)? THAT lasts forever.
So the gifts she gave me as a child and as a mother I can still open and enjoy today: Service, Prayer, Perception, Keeping confidences, Developing talents, Excellence, Unselfishness, Peacemaking, and Joy.
I hope that once she arrived on the other side of the veil she realized how WONDERFUL a mother she truly was...and is!
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.