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Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom.

“Her children will rise up and call her blessed.”
Proverbs 31:28
She makes amazing chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes.  And tuna fish salad and chicken spaghetti and fried chicken and meatloaf and cornbread stuffing.  She has held tight to a frightened, young family fresh home from the hospital three times in my house.  She has redecorated said house over and over and it always looks better.  She perfectly swaddles a baby boy with a furrowed brow to calm both child and tired mommy.   She plants flowers with a little boy in the spring in Virginia, finding worms and covering her manicured nails in dirt.  She cheers base hits, 3 pointers and goals from far, far away.  She laughs and delights in them.  She listens.  Lord, how she listens.  She truly, deeply loves them.  She knows their hearts.  She knows mine.  When it has been shattered and pained she has healed it for me.
How many times has she come to my rescue?  How many times have I held a fake smile and a perfect attitude for everyone else, but then called her to wail and whine and vomit all of my insecurity, all of my failings, all of my frustration on her.  When Drew was 4 months old, I was blindsided by a depression and anxiety so deep that I trembled with fear.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t get out of bed without feeling dizzy and whirling with panic.  My heart raced and I felt an urge to run and run and run.  I didn’t know to where.  But I wanted to be gone from myself.  I wanted to stop feeling like I couldn’t do it anymore.  I distinctly felt that there had been a huge mistake.  I could not be what God wanted me to be.   I was not what these children deserved or needed.  I had failed them.  So of course, I called and she came.  My mom came to me.  

She was teaching 3rd grade for the first time in 30 years.   It was a brand new class and this transition had not been easy.  She was crazy, crazy busy and she was helping my dad and my family through the grief of losing my grandmother a month before.  But when I called, she came.  

My worried and tired husband, who was doing everything he could for me and for my little boys, picked my mom up at the airport late one night and he brought her to me.  She held on to me and made me take my medicine.  She didn’t tell me to pick myself up, to get over it, to gut it up. She drove me to get a haircut and highlight when I was scared to drive myself. (Lest we forget, we are from the great state of Texas and gettin' your hair done is step one in puttin' a gal back on her feet!)  She made me eat a cheeseburger because I hadn’t eaten anything but saltines for days.   And most importantly, she loved and held my baby until all of her calm and all of her hope and all of her belief in me helped me recover my strength to hold and love my baby again on my own.  She believed I was good.  

She saved my family.  She never gave up on me and never once made me feel like I wasn’t the best mom in the entire world.   

She does this to this day.  She listens to the good stuff, too.  I babble like a toddler.  She listens again.  Lord, how she listens!  She makes me feel like I can do anything.  She makes me feel that I am extraordinary.   She makes me feel that I’m brilliant and funny and pretty and good.   She makes it seem that it’s all about me.  I’m forty two years old and I am exactly like my little boys.  I complain to Steve all the time about Drew:  He will not stop talking! “Mom, mom, mom, look at this, listen to this, watch me do this, help me do this.”   Aren’t I doing the same?  And isn’t my mother nodding and laughing and smiling at all the right places?   Of course, this is how parents are supposed to make you feel, right?  But really, many do not.  I have grown up and I have met many daughters and many mothers.  I have found that even though you hear that “Children are a gift from God”, it is equally true that certain mothers are blessed, that is bless-ed, gifts to their children and mine most certainly is.  Certain mothers have listened to God and they have done the hard work. 

My mother still does the hard work even though her children are (supposedly) grown.  It’s quite possible that she has done her most difficult work ever in the past year.  She loves even when those around her are utterly and completely unworthy.  She is quick to forgive and slow to anger.   She holds her tongue and she trusts her God.  She held my brother and sister and me in her arms when we were little.  We were protected, safe and loved.  Today, our family is a bit fragile. We worry about each other.  We miss each other.  We are scattered across the country and we are desperate to cling strong together.   She holds us up and she holds us together.   We can feel it across states, across rivers, across many, many miles.   We are held in her strong and faithful arms again.  We are protected, we are safe, we are so very, very loved. 

I’m reading back over this and it’s just not good enough.  I wish that I could find better words in this
word-filled head of mine to give her the honor she deserves.   Perhaps I do not need to sit at this computer and try to find lyrical, poetic words to describe my mother.   I have a basic thought, a very straight forward sentence to tell exactly who she is:

My mother, very simply, is the best person I have ever known.

Happy Birthday to you.

(written March 23, 2011 for a milestone birthday for Mom, which I am sure I am not allowed to mention.  All still applies in 2012, except for the fact that I am now 43, which my sister will point out as soon as possible.  She's quite the reliable editor that sister of mine.)


Sherry said...

Beautiful!! What a touching tribute!

Sarah said...

I enjoyed visiting with you in DC, and now after reading this I am even prouder to call you my friend. How blessed my family and I have been to know you and your family through the years. Keep blogging! Sarah

Jen Fitz said...

This made me cry because I have the same Mom. There are no words are there? But still you were able to sum up my feelings exactly about my mom.

Anonymous said...

I came by this from your sister'FB page. Your mother swooped in after my first grade teacher died at GSES in Dallas. She brought life back into our room.... she redeemed that year for myself and others. I still remember her great laugh. I remember doing that a lot after she became my teacher, laughing! This is a precious tribute to your sweet mom. A Very Happy Birthday to her! Renee (North) Hallgarth