Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Ode to Motherhood

   My mother and I are radically different in many regards, yet you only have to be around us for any length of time to see that there is an undeniable connection that binds the two of us together. It is more than just the DNA we share. It is love born of sacrifice; love tempered and honed in struggle, hardship, and difficulty; it is love that sings of the sweetest joy imaginable; and love that can withstand any tragedy or triumph and retain its constancy.
   Despite our sometimes profound differences I have always known that my Momma loves me, and I can unequivocally echo that I love her. I always say that she survived the teenage years with me. And for that and so much more I am grateful.
    My Momma is a perfectionist who loves symmetry and uniformity. Her house is immaculate and everything has its place.
    I, on the other hand, would rather do just about anything than clean and my house and my desk and my closet (Oh Lord, my closet) certainly bear witness to this fact.
    My Momma likes order and predictability and finds joy in planning ahead -- traits that served her well in her life-long career as a teacher, librarian, and  media specialist.
    I am the counselor who will drop everything or anything the moment a student with a need hits my door. My sense of order is minimal at best. I actually work best under deadlines and pressure, find a certain symmetry in chaos (a good thing since I raised 4 children and had three of them under four years of age), and love to do things that are last minute or spur of the moment.
    My Momma is a peacemaker who abhors conflict and unpleasantness, and she will go to great lengths to avoid any hint of this, especially among family members.
    As you might surmise, I love ideas of all shapes and sizes and actually relish a good debate, love to stimulate a hearty discussion, and enjoy nothing better than engaging in a good argument.
    We are both utterly convinced that we are right ALL OF THE TIME!
    Unfortunately, when I was a teenager, our lack of understanding about the nature of one other's gifts led to quite a few disagreements, and in my case, resulted in acts of outright disobedience coupled with a disrespectful know-it-all attitude. But time has a marvelous way of bringing things full circle. When I raised my own teenagers, on more than one occasion I found myself wishing that I could go back and have a "do-over" with my own mom because I suddenly found myself taking a position or saying something that eerily sounded just like my Momma would have said to me--something I would have taken an oath would NEVER EVER happen.
     As a teen and young woman I struggled against my mother's nature for it only seemed to exacerbate my own sense of inadequacy and intensify my weaknesses. Now as a middle-aged-woman, with grown children and a grandchild, I marvel at the perspective and wisdom that more than a few years under my belt have brought. I am profoundly grateful that I have come to see and appreciate the intrinsic beauty of my relationship with my Momma and to understand that the depth of our differences has been deeply enriching for us both. It is a humbling place to be. It is also interesting because I am not unaware that my own children frequently misunderstand me; find me frustrating, manipulative, and controlling at times and there are many little things and certainly some big things that I do that drive them crazy, yet on the whole I am thankful that they have been generous with their forgiveness and unfailing with their love. I have learned a lot from them -- and the least of which is how to love my own Momma better.
     I look at my Momma now, and I can see she is getting old. The passage of time is deeply etched upon her face, yet I find her more beautiful than ever. The years have not been easy for her. By the time she was in her mid-fifties she was twice-widowed and was destined to live out the better part of her life alone. In addition, she faithfully cared for the needs of her own mother who died at 103 this past year, something that has taken a significant emotional and physical toll on my own Momma. Yet my Momma is not one to complain. She has always taken what life has offered her and tried to live each day to the fullest. I have learned perseverance, dedication, and an understanding of the nature of true sacrifice from her. She also taught me the importance of family, the need to respect one's elders, and the resilient nature of commitment and love. I have always known that my Momma loved me. Even when I drove her crazy. She has always been there. I can count and rely upon her love. I know that I have taken her for granted and not told her enough that she influenced and shaped me even when I resisted and kicked like some willful toddler. I don't think I could ever tell her enough that I finally get it. I could roam the whole earth and not find a woman who could have given me the love, the faithfulness, and the measure of sacrifice that she has. She is my dear Momma, and I would have no other.

1 comment :

  1. As I wipe the tears from my eyes, I too feel the same indebtedness to our precious mom. All three of us (her girls) are so similar, yet so unique. She allowed us to be individuals! I cherish my mom and I am so grateful that she gave me two sisters to share and treasure life's many up and downs. We have a heritage like no other...thank you for expressing what I seem to always feel but can't find the right words to say. I Love you!


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