This year I sent you a card that said, "when I thank God for my blessings, I thank Him for You."
This is very true. There have been many times when I have humbly thanked Him for loaning me to YOU specifically, as it has made me who I am today. Today, I am mothering my own brood. Because of your lasting impact on me, I realize (sometimes stifling under the overwhelming sense of it all), the lasting impact I will have on my own children----good or bad.
From you, I learned the importance of the presence of a "soft mom". You were never a flashy, sensational, red-lipstick-and-short-skirt mom. I never felt that I had to compete with you, because you were Mom and stayed there. You didn't try to become my friend or my peer. And you didn't expect me to be yours, either. You were Mom and I was a child. You were also an employee, a daughter, a sister. But those worlds didn't collide with mine too much, because you didn't make it about "you". I never felt like you were burdened by me or my needs. You were just there. You smelled good, you had a soft voice, kind hands, and gentle nature, even when we called you every single afternoon at Evenflo Products to see what time you would be home, knowing you would be home at the same time every day. When I am tempted, so very often, to make my mothering journey about "ME". . . I remember you. I remember that, although I am sure now you experienced fatigue and burnout beyond measure, I didn't hear that from you. For that, I thank you.
From you, I learned to find joy in simplicity. We loved, and still do, the thrill of a great thrift-store bargain. We both enjoy old recipes, dark chocolate, ice cream eaten in the car, nature, taking a walk, standing back and looking at something we just weeded, cleaned, or organized. We appreciate anything that can keep our hair out of our face, and clothes that don't need to be ironed. We both scoff at the notion of being a millionaire and how we just still would not be able to bring ourselves to buy things at full-price. We are generic groceries, generic children's vitamins, re-purposers, and dare I admit. . . washers of disposable cups and good "quality" plastic silver ware, which I swore ad nauseam I would never, ever do. We are both Mom-Gyver, able to fix broken toys or toilet flappers with dental floss and a paper clip. When I am tempted to grow discontented with my ever-so familiar surroundings of ancient linoleum and nude wallpaper, I think of you. I think of how you grew up without the benefit of indoor plumbing or generous portions, and were able to find fun in working for all that you had. I think of how you don't have a great need for new house-things, and how we lived in a tiny duplex with shag carpet covered with toys. For that example, I am thankful. God knew I would be in a spot where I would have to learn contentment, and I believe He used you to help cultivate that in me.
From you, I learned to find the weak and the wounded, and give them extra care. I learned to spot out the old folks and hold doors, carry groceries to the car, and make small talk. I learned to show special attention to the kids whose faces and clothes are the dirtiest. I learned to be gracious to the awkward, and that the greatest humiliation was not for those caught being in the company of "undesirable" folks, but for those who treat the less fortunate with cruelty or indifference. I learned to use cooking and baking as a means of showing comfort or care to neighbors. I watched you care for your mother with a special, thoughtful attentiveness. I watched you care for your less-than gracious mother-in-law with infinite patience. For this, I am thankful. When I grow weary of those who need me so, I think of your example. I think of how I can Just. Do. It. and do it without grumbling or complaining or worrying about what I "deserve".
From you, I learned that it is OK to be embarrassingly silly if it will evoke laughter from a child. Whether it was playing "Lady of Spain" on the accordion window fan, or telling super fast bedtime stories so we would finally GO TO SLEEP, I learned that Mom was fun. I learned that puns are fantastic and that witty, sarcastic humor and a sense of rhyme can bring levity to nearly any situation, even when it involves cremated remains. For this, I am thankful. I am sort of the kid Pied piper, much like yourself, and when I do anything silly like you our kids always say, "you sound just like Nani."
So Mom, thank you. Thank you for setting yourself aside for the betterment of me. Thank you for teaching. . . by doing. I love you and hope that you have a wonderful day, and I truly desire all of God's richest blessings for you!