Is it just me, or does Mothers' Day always come sooner than we expect it?
I love Mothers' Day, because it's a great opportunity for me to appreciate my mother. Is there anyone who doesn't like showing their mom a little love? And even more so for me ... because my mother is demonstrably more awesome than anyone else's mother.
Don't believe me?
My mother was always there when I needed her. Always. I was trying to remember what she did when she wasn't with us kids, and I actually can't! I guess she cleaned the house ... made dinner ... wrote in her journal ... but most of the time, she was playing with us, taking us for walks, telling us stories.
Then, when I was bigger, she homeschooled us with all her might. She not only filled my head with information, she filled it with curiosity and the desire to learn more. She wasn't afraid to teach me things she didn't know -- she'd find a book and learn with me. Her willingness to teach things unfamiliar to her is why I felt confident to learn Latin along with her, and later on my own, until I was ready to excel at college and become a Latin teacher.
She fed our imaginations with stories and encouraged us to tell our own. I don't think it's any accident that my brother and I both wrote a lot of stories. She read book after book to us when we were small, and shared her made-up stories as well.
In the summertime, we practically lived at the beach. She brought us to one park after another, and encouraged us to play in the yard (which became a fairy land as we played our games of make-believe). In this way, she shared her love of nature and wild things.
I was an incredibly emotional, dramatic child and must have made her life pretty difficult with my constant tantrums, but she didn't lash out at me or withdraw from me. Instead, she patiently kept helping me manage my big emotions, and nowadays I think I do a pretty okay job. A lot of it was just a matter of waiting it out, I guess, but it means a lot to me that she was willing to stick out the emotional rollercoaster with me, whether that meant being ready for a hug when I picked myself up off the floor, or getting me a calming cup of peach tea when she saw me losing my cool.
Though she was and is an incredibly sympathetic and kind person, she wasn't afraid to punish me when that was what I needed. But it was always with mercy, never too harsh and always with an explanation.
The one thing in which I wish I took after my mom more is her spirituality. Without being obvious about it, she always brought us to prayer and was found praying on her own all the time. She took us to daily Mass and to her works of mercy, usually visiting the elderly. She taught us to think of those less fortunate than us, not just in money, but in human contact, and she taught me (who used to be afraid of the elderly!) to share my love with those often lonely souls.
Yes, I really think the way my mother raised me is the best, and I try to be like her. But even more than her mothering when I was a child, I cherish the relationship we have now. Today we really are the best of friends. I don't have a single friend who gets me quite the same. We share our mothering struggles and laugh over the craziness of our kids. We love to have fun together -- whether dancing to old records in the basement, or going out to Thai food and trying new things. There are inside jokes between the two of us that no one else seems to find funny, but make us laugh our heads off. And when sorrow strikes us -- the loss of her dad, or the loneliness of a move -- we each look to the other for a good talk and some comfort.
Right now my mom is on the other side of the world, raising her family in a foreign country in order to stay close to my military dad. I miss her so much and really wish she could be near, playing with her grandson and sharing a cup of peach tea. But even from far away, I'm loving her, praying for her, and sending her all my best thoughts. Time to go call her!