Here I am, with my mom, on my wedding day. She was such a calming spirit on that day, and as I look back on it, one of the things I am happiest about is that she agreed to sing a song for us during the wedding. Having her be a part of the ceremony was so special, and so appropriate, because while my dad gave me away, my mom wasn't going to have a role in it if she didn't sing the song. And I wanted her to have a role in my wedding that represented her role in my life. A gentle, calming voice guiding me to do the right thing, guiding me to love and faith in a way only a mother can.
On this Mother's Day, more than any other, I find myself reflecting on what a mother really is and what she really does. Perhaps this is because I'm preparing mentally and emotionally to become a mother myself, and although I'm 35 years old and have been dreaming of becoming a mother my entire adult life, I'm not sure I will ever really be ready for it. I have spent a lot of time these last few months thinking about my own mother, and how she influenced every single aspect of my life in some way. And how our relationship has evolved from mother and child to two adult women who love each other and enjoy each other's company. While I know she is still a mother, she is really more like a friend. So many moms don't know when to stop "actively parenting," but I think she found the perfect balance. And because of that, her opinions still matter to me. Because she chooses not to actively parent her adult daughter, I ask for her advice and her thoughts about situations. She gives it only when asks, which is something I've grown to appreciate more and more.
As I prepare to become a mother, I think of the things she did with us and I write them down, hoping to use some of her gentle wisdom with our children. Mostly little things that may not have felt significant in the moment, but when you look back on them as adults, you realize they did something to you - they made you a better person. Like when a kid in our church had a fire in his home. Everything was destroyed, and the church put together some things for him and his family. My mom encouraged us to give him some of our toys. And she didn't let us give him broken, old toys. She suggested that we give him our best and favorite toys, because we had so much and he had so little. I didn't realize the impact of that life lesson until later - that when someone has gone through a tragedy, you care for them as you would a family member. You love them because that's all they have at that moment. And that kind of love really can make things a little better.
My mom taught us things without us realizing it. She kept kids in our home before I started school, so there were always kids around to play with. But she didn't just let us play mindlessly. She played with us, and her games were both active and educational. We learned without knowing we were learning, and that prepared us for school and beyond. Even after starting school, my mom taught and participated in our education. The number of projects she (and my dad) helped us with, and the number of times I forgot about a project until the weekend before it was due - or even the night before - and she stayed up late with me working on it... well, I can't even count those. But she did it. She helped me build a dollhouse to represent the Winchester mansion, she helped create volcanoes and caves, she found stuff in the grocery store from Mexico, and she helped collect over 20 different kinds of insects. Notice I said HELPED, and not DID. She knew how important it was for me to actually DO the projects with her help, rather than her doing them and letting me go to bed.
That dedication extended to after-school activities too, of course. She cheered the loudest at the softball and soccer games, and brought flowers to all of my opening nights when I was doing theatre. We sang together in church from the time I was 12 until now, and she made costumes, helped me run lines, and practiced songs with me until I was comfortable with them. She never missed a choir concert, and chaperoned one very memorable church youth group trip to Six Flags.
I think there may have been a week or so when I was a teen when my mom and I didn't get along. But for the most part, we have always had a great relationship.
So as I prepare to become a mother, I think of my own mom, who was gentle and kind and soft and loving. Who did discipline us when we needed it (maybe not enough sometimes) but who always did it with love. Who I would have died rather than disappoint as a kid, and even now. Who prayed for us every single day, not just once, but throughout the day. Whether we had an important test, a game or performance, or if it was just an ordinary day, she was always thinking about us and praying for us, that we would get through the day and be happy and healthy.
I think about her, and I wonder how I will ever be even half as good a mom as she was (and still is) to me. If I can manage even that, I will be happy.
I love you mom, and I hope you know just how much you mean to me. You are my example of motherhood. I hope I can live up to it!
(Don't worry daddy, you'll get one of these on Father's Day!)