This week was my son, Randall’s birthday, and I wrote him: “I have loved you since Day 1.” Every mother can say that, and I suppose that’s part of what makes motherhood and mothers so special. They have always ‘been there’ for us. And they have loved us since Day 1 of our lives.
Still, there is much more to be said about moms than the fact that they love us, and today I want to write about three specific things that my mom, Jeri, has passed on to me.
First of all, and probably most importantly, my mom taught me—through her actions—a love and esteem for the word of God. This is one of those situations where “caught rather than taught” is apropos. Sure, she may have told me how important the Word was on occasion, but more impacting was what I saw in her life. Many a morning when I got up (and we always got up early in my home), Mom had already been up for a while and was sitting in the living room reading her Bible. There was a peace about her on those days. She greeted each of us kids with warmth and suddenly there was a peace about us, too (I am only realizing this as I describe the scene for you). So, by example, I saw that the Word was impacting, it was effective, it made a difference. That is a legacy that has powerfully marked my life, and one which I trust I will leave to my children (and many others), as well.
Secondly, Mom taught me to laugh—at life, at myself, at anything! Steve says I am my own entertainment system—because I don’t need an outside source for laughter. I can find the humor in most any situation. If you’ve seen the TV series Monk, you’re familiar with the phrase, “It’s a blessing and a curse.” Well, that’s what laughter can be for me. Most often it is a blessing. I can see the humor in just about any situation, even at my own expense. Sometimes it has felt like a curse because of the contexts in which I feel compelled to laugh (funerals, for example—but only because of something I see or hear, not because someone has died!). This “gift” came to me from my mother. Again, she didn’t talk about it, she lived it.
One of my earliest memories is me as a child of about three or four sitting in church beside my mom. This was the “old days” before air-conditioning was commonplace in the south (miserable summer days, I might add). In the summer, the faithful waved paper fans with wooden, popsicle-style stick handles to try to create a cooling breeze (in retrospect, I wonder how the minister maintained his own attention with all that motion going on in his audience). I was relatively quiet and still in these long, arduous (to a child) meetings, but I was also industrious. I figured out ways to keep myself entertained. I picked at one of those “popsicle” handles till it started to splinter apart. I chose a couple of the larger splinters and placed one on each side of my mouth between my teeth and upper lip. I imagined that I looked like a walrus, which I had undoubtedly recently seen on television. I quietly tugged at Mom’s elbow to show her my creation and get her opinion.
Mom glanced at me, looked away, then did a double-take and started muffling belly laughter. I was surprised at first. All I had wanted was her opinion and approval—“My, my; that looks like a walrus.” I never expected that I would score a laugh—and belly laughter, at that! I am pretty certain that is where my sense of humor was born. I liked making mom laugh! I was too young to know how easy that was and that it was really no sign of great comedic character. Nevertheless, my life was marked. For the rest of my life, it would be a blessing…and sometimes a curse.
The third thing that Mom has passed on to me is somewhat related to the laughter—but not entirely. The Bible says “Weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice.” I have written before that I think humans, in general, are better at the weeping bit than the rejoicing bit (See Share the Joy!). Too often, I have sensed a tinge of jealousy from my peers when I had good news to share. That’s why I usually opted to call Mom to share my joy. She always rejoiced with me. But I didn’t only call home to share news of some good fortune in my life, I also called home to share something funny one of the kids had said or done—and I always got the anticipated response: laughter. Mom got it when others were clueless (see Family Sayings: The Makings of a Good Idiom).
But Mom didn’t only rejoice with me, she wept with me, too. I suppose this is where most moms shine. They feel their children’s pain. My mom is no exception. I shall never forget one of the darkest days of my life. Though I was in my forties, and though I had a large circle of dear friends, I intuitively went to my mother for comfort. And because of the first point above—her love for the word of God—she had more to give me than sympathy. As I wept and poured out my heart, she spoke to me authoritatively: “You can leave a legacy to your children in how you respond to this.” I continued to cry, but those words penetrated my heart and gave me a sense of stability and focus that sustained me for the months of sorrow that followed.
There are many other things that I could write about my mom, but these three that I have listed are the most impacting to me. I am grateful that I still have my mom with me. If I am lucky, she will follow in her mother’s footsteps and be around for another twenty years or so. Regardless, she has enriched my life far more than many daughters ever experience. And for that I am so grateful. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you!
Can you identify the one or two most impacting influences your mom has made on your life? Leave a comment, and then forward this link to your mom so she can read what you have to say.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there in my blogosphere!