Thursday, May 17, 2012

sierra madre

This morning I feel compelled to write a little about my mother. I don't why. I have just been thinking about her...maybe with Mother's Day just passing or because she will be leaving the country again for 10 months (she and my Dad are headed to China through the BYU Kennedy Center to teach English). Nonetheless, she has been on my mind and I wanted to write some of my thoughts down.

My mother was a good mom. She wasn't the kind of mom that would get down of the floor and play Barbies with me, but she did so many other things of value in my upbringing. I am of the firm belief that there is no one perfect way to parent. I think it is best to be who you are and bring your own talents to parenting. Playing on the ground wasn't her thing. But I will tell you what was her thing; I remember learning to make the best cinnamon rolls ever from her along with biscuits, and french bread, and mud soup (lentil and potato soup), and spaghetti sauce, and almond rocha, and danish puff and a host many other delectable kitchen goodies. She is an amazing cook and in turn her daughters are all pretty darn good cooks. I learned how to properly make a bed, fold laundry, dust, and keep a house generally clean. In fact she taught me how to essentially run a household efficiently and effectively. What a blessing it has been. Scott has commented so many times how grateful he is that I am organized and that everything here seems to run smoothly, he tells me how much he appreciates that dinner in on the table every night about the time he gets home. I have to attribute all of this to my mother. She was the perfect example for me.

I remember growing up my mom grabbing me at least ten times a day and squeezing me tight and giving me like a bazillion kisses and saying she loved me. I always loved it. Her mom, my grandma, would do the same thing when she saw us (it was slightly less enjoyable when she did it because she smelled like a grandma; although I didn't really mind too much). I do the same thing to my kids. It is a part of me. I am pretty sure my kids love it too and will also do it to theirs! It is funny because we are so affectionate with each other, but I am not a real hugger with other people. Even with my really close friends I would rarely feel inclined to hug...maybe a side hug if the moment allows. So apparently we are affection-snobs!

I remember during my high school years my mom usually looked really tired. I think back on those years and they must have been hard ones for her. My dad was the bishop of our ward and she was the stake Young Women's president in a stake that spanned three states (we lived in the Idaho panhandle and our stake included a small part of Eastern Washington and Western Montana). And although I didn't realize it at the time, they were struggling financially so she substitute taught Spanish and French at the high school (along with whatever else they asked her to fill in for), drove Hugh the Hermit  into town everyday and then back to his faraway, backwoods home (another story for another day), and she translated at the Courthouse for Spanish-speakers. All while maintaining a hundred year old and two teenage girls. Not to mention supporting two (and at one point three) missionaries simultaneously, a college student, and newlywed! It wears me out to just write about it. Yet through it all she remained the same. I would be a moody mess, but she wasn't and if she was she sure kept it to herself. I learned during those years that the Church and our family were so very important to her. All her time was spent in those two areas. She taught me how to serve diligently in my callings, no matter how far you have to drive and no matter what the weather conditions are. I can get up today and speak in front of a thousand people and it wouldn't phase me at all; this is a gift from my mother (and my dad). Although they are both great speakers it was so important to see my mother speak with such confidence; it built confidence in me as a woman. I also learned from those years how to make ends meet, how to be frugal, how to sew, can food, quilt, garden, and survive. What a valuable gift! And although I don't regularly use some of those skills (Scott and I do can food in the summer...but he does most of the gardening) I am so grateful to have had an introduction to them.

When I was little; like four years old, my dad broke his back in a plane crash. What a horrible thing to hear as a wife with six small children - I can only imagine now how I would feel under those circumstances. Well, clearly he couldn't work because first he spent weeks and weeks in the hospital and then spent something like six months flat on his back at home recovering. To survive financially and still be a mom and wife my mom went to work the graveyard shift at a hospital as a receptionist (or something like that). She would leave after she got everyone tucked into bed and my dad settled in for the night. She would then go to work all night and then get home around 7:00 am to get the four big kids off to school and take care of my dad. Then she would put Sesame Street on for Renee and me (we were two and four) and she would fall asleep on the couch for a few hours. All that work on only three hours of sleep at best. In fact my earliest childhood memories are sitting on the floor with Renee in front of the couch watching Super Grover and Big Bird and turning around occasionally to see my mother sleeping on the couch. It makes me cry when I think of it now because I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to hold it all together. She is one of the strongest women I know and I am such a softly. I sometimes wonder how we are related! As a funny sidenote, another early memory during that time was whenever my mom said it was naptime for Renee and me, Renee would always suggest that mom come and lay down with us. Renee was no dummy...she knew my mom was so tired that she would be out cold in a minute and then we could go and play. It worked like a charm every time and I always felt a little bad about leaving her there asleep, like we had duped her or something. From my perspective now I would LOVE it if someone put me down for a nap every day!

My mom now has older children, I still see her trying to grow and be better everyday. With a handful of grown daughters I think sometimes we are too critical of her and we look back with a skewed judgemental eye. Yet with the sometimes too-honest remarks we occasionally make, she still carries on, trying to correct her shortcomings only to be a better mother, grandmother, wife, and person. She raised us with tools and skills she had. Nope she wasn't a sugar-coated, let's-talk-till-dawn-about-our-problems, play with Legos on the floor kind of mom. That's not her style and I think that's ok. She's a no-nonsense, totally dedicated, get-it-done kind of lady who is always ready and willing to stop for a minute and have a treat. Those are pretty great attributes. Not to mention that she puts up with all the teasing that comes her way. Sadly for her she is an easy target at times and boy oh boy does she get teased. Usually she is a pretty good sport and laughs right along with the rest of us - although I think someone needs to teach her  how to throw it back sometimes...again that just probably wouldn't be her style; she is too nice!

I am deeply grateful for my mother. She has taught me so much. I think she is a pretty amazing person. I feel like I am a good person for what she taught me and the tools she gave me. She wasn't perfect...but no mother is. When it came down to it she taught me two important things - Love for God and Devotion to Family. What a legacy to leave. Although I am a different kind of mom than she was (my house is never as clean as hers was and I like the marble toy probably as much as the kids) I hope that I am able to instill those two things in my children too. I hope they know that I love them as much as I know my mom loves me. I have never doubted that. When her children are happy and doing well then she is happy. When one of us isn't happy it weighs on her heavily - that is true love! I love her so much and am eternally grateful to be her daughter! I hope I am able to handle the ups and downs of life as well as she has. Mostly I hope that she realizes what an amazing mother she is.