Sunday, May 12, 2013
A consideration of Mother's Day
I'm happy to say, discomfort aside, that God has also taught me to understand that the chance to be a good mother never ends. By never, I mean never. Not even after you've gone on to glory. So maybe Mother's Day is a time to celebrate that truth, not the accomplishments of motherhood but the opportunities and someday...the legacy.
Legacies, you know, are there whether we like to admit it or not. They either wonderful or they are terrible, but we all leave them.
I'm thankful for the legacies I inherited from my great grandmothers, grandmothers and mother.
If there was a single word to the entirety of it, it would be standards. I was immersed in and bombarded by standards. As Little Edie would say S-T-A-U-N-C-H! I was born in the shadow of women who lived uncompromisingly.
There was no debate about the function of the mother in the home. These women took complete responsibility for their families. This was a time prior to spa days and me time. My memories are of my mom and grandmas giving one another perms at the kitchen sink while I entertained myself as best I could. They didn't arrange a play date or a schedule of activities. This was where I learned that families exist together, in the same space. That we are a unit and no one needs to be catered to. I was happy to be with the women in my life and I knew how to pass the hours just being. There were no 3 hour trips to the hair stylist every 2 months, the way I now live my life. Those 3 or more hours every two months were spent together.
There was the continuous example of housekeeping, of cooking and cleaning. But that, frankly, wasn't what imprinted itself on me. It was the time, the comfort of one another's presence. It was the sureness of who I was reflected in my confidence that I knew who they were. And my place in it. My place wasn't at the top of the food chain, by the way. My place was in the midst.
I recall no boredom in those days. I don't remember frustration at leaving my neighborhood friends to spend days with the women in my family. I don't remember anyone dropping what they were doing upon my arrival. If my grandmother was cleaning beans when I hit the door, I was given a bowl of beans to clean. Not a chore, an invitation in to her life.
If my grandmother was floating in the pool, it seemed her great pleasure to have me join her. No, not to scream and splash. To float along side quietly or to be a bit silly. To join her and be with her, entirely comfortable that this was my place in the world. Not hers or mine, our world.
Standards, uncompromising and excellent.
Family first. One another not tolerated but a part of our very souls, DNA in the truest sense of linking us together. Standards that life is maintained, stewardship of one's belongings is an expression of Christianity, that the needs of one another will always be the priority.
I'm thankful that my mother kept me in the midst of this when the times were changing and many women were entering the workplace. She sacrificed things like 3 hour spa days, there was no money for such luxury. No, she accepted perms in the kitchen in exchange for presence. She taught me to live with less when my kids were little and to know that the value I had to offer was to be there, as she had been. Because of the sweetness of my own childhood, I wanted nothing more than to give the same to my boys. So they, too, had the hours of entertaining themselves while three generations of women sat at the kitchen table together. They learned the quietness and beauty of being in the midst.
I know the feeling of a hand on my forehead and the sound of prayer spoken aloud over my life.
I know the scent of my grandma's talcum powder on an afghan.
I know the lilt of my grandma singing to me in a silly voice.
I know how to pray aloud over my children, they know the scent of campfires and I still sing to them (not that they particularly enjoy it!)
Isn't it true of all of life, that what we truly celebrate is not our own accomplishments, but the blessings. That God has been good enough to give me the legacies of Patricia Trent, Eleanor Gerhardstein and Diana Trent. That my children live, not in the wake of this legacy, but immersed in an ocean of it. That I stand in the middle of it all.