In these hard motherhood times of Pinterest, and Facebook, and GMO-free competitive motherhood, I am grateful I was raised by a real human. Instead of teaching me to french braid, my mom taught me to be outside. I never learned how to do makeup, but I learned how to avoid june bugs in the pool in the full moon light. While other girls were learning how to pose appropriately for pictures, and which was their good side, and how to dress their bodies, and all about color wheels, I was learning to rake leaves to jump in, which hills were the best to roll down, and what plants were poisonous. It was amazing, and I am a better woman and mother for all the things I didn’t learn.
As a child, I remember the toys my parents bought me because of how little I played with them. I never learned to ride my bike, and I barely touched my Barbie Dream House. I grew up in the twilight of childhood freedom, in a neighborhood you see in old movies, with a group of kids who could meet up without invitation to walk to the park or the local store. Our corner lot boasted 2 trees worth climbing, and a street sign perfect for shimming up. Alleys behind 3/2 houses with attached garages made a hidden maze that we could navigate for hours without getting bored or lost. Having a mother who nurtured this sense of adventure allowed to grow up seeking the same, and feeling safe in my own ability to navigate life.
Mom taught us that working hard was rewarding, and that chores could be a game if done correctly. Raking leaves turned into a child-induced mulching party, as we all took turns raking, jumping into, and re-raking piles of brittle oak leaves each fall. She taught me that work and play don’t have to be separate ideas. And to always wear sunscreen.
She taught every kid in our town how to swim through formal swimming lessons, but when it came to me, she simply said, “let go”. I’ve never thought of it until now, but those words are kinda how I live my life. More often than not, I don’t have a plan, and I don’t really understand fully what is needed or expected from me. I’m not ready, or trained for, anything I do. I just let go. When I was a kid in that pool, I let go and kicked my feet and it worked. That small success and my mom’s quiet confidence have allowed me to let go and kick my feet through my entire life. I guess you could say that in that pool, and in my life, I know she’s close enough to save me if necessary, but that she knows I have what it takes to just do it.
Mom taught me how to not need a man, but also how to be a good wife. I learned that marriage is a partnership. There is no boss in a marriage, and both parties have to give 100%. She taught me to love fiercely and without apology. She taught me that you don’t have to explain your beliefs or feelings, and that maybe means maybe, but can become a no if you keep bugging her, and that Suave shampoo is just as good as the expensive stuff. I don’t believe everything she taught me, but 99% ain’t bad.
Most importantly maybe, my mom taught me what a Christian looks like, a real Christian who loves God and mankind, and is gentle towards other regardless of differences. She taught me that God is love, period, and we are all equal in His eyes, and that there is never a good reason to be ugly to another human. She taught me to help people without expecting thanks or repayment. She taught me that if you aren’t acting in love, then you aren’t acting for God, that only in quiet prayer can you know God’s plan, and that it isn’t found on the lips of preachers necessarily.
So, while all of you are posting things on Facebook today about how your mom is the greatest ever, I know you’re wrong. But, I don’t have to explain myself to you.