Over at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, she's had guest posts going on this week about things they learned from their mothers. It's been quite moving, touching, and perfectly lovely to hear all the things that their moms did right.
I don't have a very big bank to draw from there. My mom died from lung cancer just before I turned 13. The years before that were stressed; between my entering "hormone hell" and her hormones flying from being a late-in-life mom (not by today's standards, but I know she was weary - I was the first of her 2nd family grouping - and my sisters were 15 and 18 when I was born - she lived in "hormone hell" all my life!!).
I'm sure we had good moments, good days, but I honestly don't remember them as a whole.
I DO remember being in 7th grade, and having a crush on the newspaper boy (back in the olden days, it was cute jr/sr high boys on bicycles that came door to door to deliver your paper, and came TO the door monthly to get their payment for the papers they delivered.). The boy was in 8th grade, and boy did I pine for him to notice me (I don't think he did, no matter God's plan was better!). After school one day, I remember sitting on the couch and having a talk with my mom about "puppy love and crushes". That's the only time I remember really talking to her about anything. I remember even then, thinking "WOW, this is cool...getting to talk to my mom like this....".
I have a handful of good memories.
I remember her putting orange marmalade on my grilled cheese sandwiches, but no one else in my family remembers that - so maybe it was a dream (I eat them still, anyways). She made amazing macaroni and cheese (home made) with tomato sauce and real butter. We make it similarly still!
And that's about it.
Most of my other memories are not nearly as pleasant - I remember years of her waking up to send us off to school, houserobe on, cigarette in one hand and cup of coffee in the other... and me coming home to her watching "General Hospital" - houserobe on, cigarette in hand, cup of coffee in the other.
I remember fighting and arguing with her. I remember her slapping me once...I probably deserved it... and I tried to run away from home after that (but where do I go?? I didn't have a safe place to be.).
I remember thinking that my mom was so mean. REALLY mean. Way beyond the pre-teen "you never let me...." mean. A few years ago my aunt, my mom's youngest sister told me the same thing. She said that she was sorry to say this, but she never liked my mom - she was always so mean.... and I thought "whew - it wasn't just me - it was everyone".
Even so, she was my mom. She chose to bear me, a miracle since she didn't want any more kids - she loved my dad that much....and enough for a younger sister 3 years behind me. She did things well... managed keeping a home together, having her mom live with us, keeping family secrets and dealing with a difficult marriage for the 2nd time.
When she passed, the story was that the lung cancer had already spread to her brain...she had tumors there, my dad said. He said that THAT was what made her so emotional. So mad. But I have my own version of the story, built from my older sisters, and my aunts and those that saw more of her than my work-aholic dad...
She was depressed. She had thyroid issues for years, and it was never resolved properly. She didn't want to have young kids when all her friends were empty nesting and having grands. She just wanted to be a good wife and live a good life. I don't remember affection from her, don't have photos of her hugging me or looking pleased....oh, there's family photos, posed and placed in holiday finery. But I don't remember the sweet things that others do about their moms. And that's ok.
Because of her disposition, because of the LACK of memories, it has allowed God to shape my own journey as a mom . It wasn't always perfect - not by a long shot! I had my days of pj's worn, weather channel on all day. I had my days of anger and frustration that was misplaced on kids too young. I'm so sorry for those days.
But I always tried to love on them. To tell them how proud I am of them...even today, with my girls being momma's, I try to remind them how proud I am that they are such good momma's. How proud of my son I am. So thankful that they are all serving Jesus however He has called them to serve.
And I'm so grateful that His mercies are new every morning. Thankful that He loves us. No matter. HE is shaping and creating me to be a new creation in Him. And I'll be the best grandma that I can be, knowing that I can glean lessons from women around me today - older - wiser - God following. Because that is what was missing in our home the whole time I was growing up - NO GOD. No one to submit to, to set a standard of humility, of servanthood. Of LOVE.
To have had that, most of my kids lives - better some seasons than others - is a great blessing. I pray that they'll build from my shoulders, and be better mom's than I was ever able to be...