My daughter will call or text me at least twice a week to ask questions she is convinced only I can answer. Questions like, “Is raw chicken still good if it’s been in my fridge for 3 days?” or “What are soda crackers and where do I find them at Walmart?” or “Is it really necessary to dry clean something that says ‘dry clean only’?” Each time she requests expert advice from me, I smile and think about all of the times I have required tutelage from my own mom.
Throughout my twenties, I lived 1,200 miles away from my mother, but it didn’t stop me from making long-distance phone calls to ask her what must have seemed like trivial questions. “What kind of chilies should I put in my homemade salsa?” and “How do you make gravy?” and “When should I start giving my baby cereal?” are just a few of the many questions I had for the ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD WHO COULD POSSIBLY give me a trusted answer.
Like most mothers and daughters, the relationship between my mom and I has progressed through all stages of life. As a child, I was the first to wake her up on Christmas morning (which was usually waaaay before 6:00 a.m.) and she was the one who ran alongside me as I was learning to ride a bicycle. My mom was kindhearted enough to eat what I called “the yucky chocolate” off the outside of my ice cream bars, so I could enjoy the delicious vanilla ice cream underneath and I was really, really good at asking her if my friends could spend the night or stay for dinner while they were standing right beside me. As a self-centered teenager, I lamented her rules while at the same time benefited from her unwavering support and constant care. It wasn’t until I was married that I realized how much I missed her warm, after-school chocolate chip cookies, daily laundry service and clean toilets.
As my own children grew, my mom was continually there for me. She was by my side as I gave birth to my first child. She taught me how to change his diaper, give him a bath and swaddle him in a blanket. A couple of years later, she sobbed as I took my two toddlers and moved to another state and, many years after that, she dropped everything and flew to Oregon-twice- to take care of my three youngest children while I moved into the Ronald McDonald House two hours away and watched my oldest son fight for his life in PICU.
When my family finally moved a little closer to home, mom was quick to deliver food and Popsicles and medicine to my children and me when we all came down with a horrible case of the flu. My mom has taken the grandkids on overnighters and whisked me away for weekend retreats at a spa. She has loaned me money and given me advice and sacrificed so much, all because of the four-letter word- LOVE.
So, on this Mother’s Day, I pause to reflect on one of the greatest blessings in my life- my mother. For the most part, her example has become my habit and her voice has become my own. I look in the mirror and I see her. I open my mouth and my mother comes out. She is my rock and I hope that someday, when my daughter becomes a mom, she will hold the same feelings about me in her heart that I do for my mother.