“You are so much like your mother!”
Every single morning (it seemed as every single morning at least) my sister and I would be awakened to the joyful and happy -translated in sleepy girl language would be aggravating and over-the-top) sound of our mother singing “It’s time to get up, It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up this morning!” My sister and I shared a room as kids and so mom could “kill two birds with one morning song!” And I would love nothing more if you could hear it through reading the way she sang it. It was beautiful. My mother was (and still is thankfully) a very affectionate and loving mother…she always always made sure her children were hugged and kissed and told “I love you!” There were many many mornings I am certain she was exhausted, stressed, tired, worried, or just plum give out and yet she seemed to have that break in those “weights of the world” when it came to waking her children. The feel of her long strong fingernails scratching up the bottom of my feet…the flipping on of the light…and the way she seemed so so happy to be calling her offspring’s attention to the new day, although not very appreciated then, is one of my favorite childhood memories. I am absolutely positive at some point, in the awakening to Shea the Opera Singer days, I thought…”If I ever have kids, I will NEVER wake them up like this!!” Ever think like that?
It’s extremely funny how we as women will often times think “man, I will never be like my mother” when we envision our lives as wives and mothers. Very commonly, women will pick out the absolute most aggravating and annoying traits/habits/characteristics about their mother and make a check list of sorts that reads “this I will do” and “this I will not do.” It’s probably just as common to do the opposite and say “Oh I LOVE that my mother is _________ and I hope I am the same way with my husband/children!” I know for me, my mother was a “Super Woman” in my eyes as a child. There was not anything that woman could not do! She was amazingly talented in so many areas…like, if she wanted new curtains for our living room, or kitchen, or her bedroom, she would go and pick out fabric (on sale most of the time) and just sew her up some pretty window dressings and bam…new look for the room. Arrange the furniture a little differently, change out some of the decorations in the room with another room and it could look totally changed. There were plenty of times she would have to throw away vases, or flower pots, etc. due to the illegal football game that took place while she was at work (and every single whipping I received for this disobedience I totally deserved!). Bless my and my sister and brother’s hearts, we tried to super glue things back together and turn them in a different direction praying mother would not notice. She always did. Moms are smart like that. She was an unbelievable cook and everyone around our little community had the “favorites” she made…like potato salad was a must at every church dinner. HER dressing was a must at every Thanksgiving and Christmas. She made a strawberry jello salad every Christmas that made me and one of my first cousins fight for the first bite! We still do that BTW. She canned everything she could. She would prepare every single thing my dad or granddaddy would raise in the garden. She was so good at not wasting anything. Which to a 12 year old girl who would have suffocated herself if she had to store ONE. MORE. PLASTIC. BAG was so annoying. “Here Tressa, take this aluminum foil from the ham and cover your dad’s dinner plate for tomorrow.” I was like “really, its brownish and got black stuff from the ham on the roof of it and its gross, can I not just throw it away and get a new piece?!!” And yet she saw the value in reusing what could be reused. I did not. She was SO, oh my heaven stars, SO thoughtful of everyone she knew. Again, to a 14 year old girl who just wants to spend every minute with her boyfriend, going to visit a great aunt in the nursing home is NOT how she wants to spend her Saturday, and yet mother set the perfect example for me of taking time to do a small act of kindness for someone. She took care of everybody who needed care…and without question, without complaining (well I never heard it), without thinking of herself first. My dad was a blessed man to be taken care of by her, we as her children were extremely “spoiled” by having such a hard working/caring/loving/strict/compassionate woman mothering us, her dad was honored by the way she cared for him until his last breath, and every soul who had her hand extended to was very appreciative. I will not go through each and every person and the “story” of them but you get my point. My mother was amazing to me as a child. Yes I got frustrated because I did not always have “what” other kids had -name brand crap for example- but never ever ever did I go to bed without hearing “I love you baby!” and even then I knew she did because of what she did to take care of me…her words were not just words. She used the entire day to prove her love and then summed it up with 4 little words when the day was over. I never doubted her. I mean of course I rolled my eyes when I heard the “Tressa, don’t you think you should be more concerned about the blessings you do have instead of complaining about the stuff you don’t have” speeches I would hear because I would pitch a fit because I could not go to the “New Kids on the Block” concert my friends were going to…or tell her “_______’s mother loves her more than you love me cause she got her a cabbage patch doll!” oh me…I would not have made it without life in prison if I had to raise me.
As a child, I did not FULLY appreciate or understand the sacrifices my mother made for me, my dad, my brother/sister, and everyone else. That puts me in the same category as 98% of other children I presume. However, the day I saw my first child for the first time upon exiting my body and entering this world…I IMMEDIATELY knew. The very first thing I said to my mother…”I am so sorry for not appreciating all you did for me. I NOW know how MUCH you love me.” And years have past and another child has exited my body and that truth still stands. I know more and more and more of exactly what it took for my mother to do the amazing things she did…and continues to do to this day. She is STILL talented, she is STILL an unbelievable cook, she is STILL not wasteful, and she STILL is the most giving person I know. I could easily write a post on all the things I “wish were different” about my childhood, about her rules, about her in general…every child could…she by no means was perfect. However, she was perfect at one thing: setting a godly example for me in areas of service for others. I learned, by watching not by being beaten over the head with words or commands, how to “just do it” when your parents are ill and need your help. I learned from her how to be mindful of expenses in unnecessary areas of spending. I learned to cook and can and put up garden produce and clean a house and wash clothes. I learned how valuable it is to someone to just do a small act of kindness. I learned that all this “work” is service to others yes…but more importantly…”work” for our Lord’s kingdom. You see, in being who she was -not telling me who she should be- she taught me about being selfless. In being who she was -not demanding I should be just like her- she taught me that belonging to Christ meant obeying His commands to serve others. In loving her husband in the “better” AND the “worse” -not leaving because she was mistreated/under appreciated/over looked- she taught me that vows. mean. everything. and fulfilling my vow to God means fulfilling my vow to my husband. In holding me accountable for my choices -not making excuses for my behavior like “well, she is just a kid”- she taught me the value of training a child to OWN his/her choices and suffer consequences OR reap rewards for them. She very well could have spent my entire childhood VERBALLY telling me what I should do, how I should be, where I should go, or what I should believe…instead, my mother SHOWED me what to do, how I should be, where I should go, and what to believe. Showing does not require a single word. and yet I heard every single word her actions said.
Oh the wisdom we gain from time allowed. Oh the value of a mother’s love. Oh the wonder and awe of God’s plan. Oh that I too would teach my daughter with actions and not words.
So when I hear “you are so much like your mother!” I realize that some times people are referring to my loudness…or my eyes…or my bossiness (that one we are working on mom haha)…and I am prayerful that some times people are referring to my service, my sacrifice, and my love for my God -my husband -my children -my parents -and everyone I know! I will never be able to thank her enough for doing SO much teaching without ever opening her mouth! Lesson learned mom. You rock. I love you, like for real.
What do you value in your mother? Does she know this? Have you ever told her one of your favorite childhood memories of something she did? TBH, she will LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAve hearing this from you!
Maybe the woman you value most is not your mother, does this woman know how much you appreciate her? Make it a point to show AND tell her what she means to you and your life.
What lessons are you silently teaching your daughter? Be mindful your actions speak. DO so good for her that she hears your words from listening to your ways, not your voice.
All of this is written to make us think.
Free foot note:
I sing “it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up this morning!” to Autumn and Scout every now and again. I am absolutely positive that it is translated “aggravating and over-the-top” to them as well. of course, this is my motivation for it so SCORE ONE FOR THE MOM!! Bam.