Sunday, May 13, 2007

Alma Mater

(~Nurturing Mother)

The above photo is my favorite picture of my mom and me. She looks like she really adored me. There wasn't that much time in my life when it was just the two of us. She's probably already pregnant in that picture, but I love to imagine my mom loving on little chubby baby me. I know most of the feelings she probably had, because I've now had them myself for my little ones, and I love to think that my mom had those emotions for me.

My mom hated Mother's Day. She probably felt inadequate compared to the white apron-clad, perfectly coiffed mothers tending perfectly disciplined and squeaky-clean children spoken of in all the talks at church. Many Mother's Day's my mother was in tears. She probably had her self-preservating cynicism on full volume in her head. Perfect mothers don't exist, and perfect Mother's Day's don't either. Mother's Day was never a treat for her, I don't think. And it hasn't really been for me either, and yet I love Mother's Day.

My children made me their typical handmade gifts this year (though as they get older, the artwork sure gets better!) I was surprised in bed (but not very) with a big MOM balloon (I hate balloons), two DVD's (previously viewed from Blockbuster, with the stickers peeled off but the sticky remaining), and a bag of candy purchased at Walgreen's (and still in the Walgreen's plastic bag). Aiden offered to bring me breakfast in bed, but he can't cook, so he brought me a bowl of Special K. I mention these things not because I'm complaining, because I'm not. I mention these things because they are part of the reason why I love Mother's Day.

I love mothers. I love my mother, I love being a mother, I love all things motherhood. I love that a whole day is dedicated to honoring mothers, and I'm tickled that none of the seven other people in this house who live with me day in and day out know that the way to my heart is through a NAP, not a MOM balloon and a box of Red Vines. But their efforts are treasured, and I save every single handmade card.

Why is Mother's Day so depressing to so many mothers? This, I don't get. To me, Mother's Day is a shot in the arm. I think I'm a fairly decent, and fairly decently flawed mother. I'm really on-target in some areas, and really slacking in many others. But Mother's Day, and especially Mother's Day talks, stories, and poems encourage me! They don't make me feel inadequate, they fill my well with inspiration and the umph to keep on going. Mother's Day is to my motherhood what Monday is to a dieter. And so, here is what I will more consciously do:

1. Smile every single time one of my children walks into the room, or I do.
2. Pay a conscious effort to saying more positive things to each of them than negative.
3. Kiss each of them before bed and tell them, while looking into their eyes, that I love them.
4. Have more water fights. (and win)
5. Give them time to just talk to me, while I just listen.

And, let me also let the world know that I love my mother. She and I are very different women, but many of the same threads that run through her heart hold mine together too. I love her for too many reasons to count, but especially because though we are divided on many issues, she has always given me freedom to be who I need to be, and then still admired me. I am a mother because she made me want to be.

It's a glorious privilege to be a mother, and I try to never take it for granted. My most tender feelings are evoked in images and expressions of mothering. Since she always says it better than I, here's some Carol Lynn Pearson:

The Mother the Harbor

These little boats
Came by currents
I may never know
From oceans I cannot see
Even from my highest hill.
I cherish the cargo
Bless the sea
And thank the eternal itinerary
That harbored them awhile
In me.

Happy Mother's Day. I'm doing just fine, and so are you. Here's to the journey.


YogaNana said...

That's lovely, Jen -- I had forgoten the picture. Your little shirt was white with bright pink and bright azure, and homemade, of course, as was just about everything in those days.

I had a very nice Mother's Day weekend myself -- phone calls from eight of my nine, lunch out with David and a friend in Berkeley, a little bouquet from that friend, and "Happy Mother's Day" wishes from two homeless people here in San Francisco. A little of this, a little of that. And now -- we're having stuffed salmon. :o)

Luisa Perkins said...

Naps are awesome, but Red Vines are almost as good! I hope you had a lovely day; you are worth it.

Anonymous said...

that's sweet -- glad you had a nice day even if it was sans red vines and naps.

Saint Holiday said...

I remember that picture! I took it and developed it all by meself, and I think I got an A for it from my photography professor at the BYU. Your angel mither might correct me, but I think we took the picture at Utah Lake, under the cottonwood trees. Both of you were wearing dresses handmade by your mother. It's hard to believe that 25 years have passed since that wonderful day. It's enough to put a tear in an old dad's eye. I'm a witness that your mother made every possible sacrifice for you and the others, and if that is not enough to secure her an eternal inheritance of joy, then the Lord and I need to talk. He knows what I mean. You learned how to be the great mother you are from her. I love you.

Jenna said...

25 years, Dad? Ah, you're so sweet.

Abby said...

hehehe..that's a mighty small 9 year old..

I also love all of the pictures dad took of YOU when you were just so little. I like to think that's something I got from him. Ya know..the eye for beauty behind a lens.

YogaNana said...

**historical note, I guess**

It was the big park across from Albertson's in Provo, pretty sure.