There’s a long-standing joke between my mom and my 4 sisters. She claims that we have never written anything about her. In all our years of composition classes and papers, she claims, we have never written a glorious ode to her virtues. I have proof that in preschool I wrote some very heartfelt things about her popcorn with my handprint on the back. But I don’t think this is what she’s talking about.
This year, unlike the past years, I spent Mother’s Day away from my mom. On its own, it shouldn’t have been a big deal. My mom doesn’t make a big deal out of the day; she’s not really into “Hallmark”. But for a variety of reasons, I spent Mother’s Day weekend away from my mom yet reminded of her at every turn. And so, the following is a brag sheet on my mom and how I walked into (and subsequently knocked myself out Three Stooges-style on) the bar she set as a mother.
I made a 4-hour car ride with my little family. John drove our van. I sat with the 7-month-old baby. Eight-year-old sister and 5-year-old brother played in the back seat.
- My mom (and dad) moved to Florida when the youngest were 7 and 8. That’s a car ride. But then there were car trips back and forth to visit family back in St. Louis. If that weren't enough, we moved to Guatemala when my baby sister was just under 3. We drove 3 cars through Mexico. It took 5 days. Subsequent trips got more efficient. We made the trip 4 more times through the years and got it down to 3 days through Mexico. THROUGH MEXICO! Ohmygosh.
I made dinners for 5 adults and 6 children during the trip. It took planning and forethought. Mostly, I asked my mom for her advice. (She said ‘crock pot’ and she was dead-on!) I impressed the others by trimming the fat off a roast.
- We moved a lot; to Florida, to Guatemala, to Moscow, to Jelgava, Latvia. Every time she would have to find the grocery stores. In the lesser-developed countries she would have to find several markets to get everything we needed. I know that Moscow was especially tricky. There was a meat store, a different bread store, a different home supply store, etc. And shopping was needlessly complicated (thanks, Communism). She could only shop for one day at a time and we didn’t have a car. So everyday she would get seriously bundled up and pull a rickety rolling cart over ice and snow to buy us food for our meals. What a nightmare. I can’t believe she did that. On top of it, they didn’t butcher meat the way we do, so she would buy a big hunk of meat, get educated on cuts and do her best dividing it up into different parts. Yeah, she ground our own beef. Because there was no ground beef. Just fill-your-table sized chunks of beef.
There were two families and the grown-ups were almost outnumbered. Order hung by a thread.
- My mom has incredible kid intuition! She has a gift from God for young children. She has background early childhood development and it shows. She’s the child whisperer. She instinctively knows how to respond to the varieties of children behaviors and she has decades of experience managing little persons. If things are starting to get hairy, she not only brings peace and order, but she’ll have them playing a game. For the past 18 years we’ve always had a grandbaby around and there’s only a 6-year gap between the youngest daughter and the oldest grandchild. She “gets” children. They’re never a nuisance, rather they’re tired, or hungry or just need some attention. She’ll have your kids eating out of her hand in no time. It’s a gift.
Overall, I don’t consider myself an exaggerator. I don’t feel that I flatter unduly. I tend to choose my words carefully so as to not say something I don’t mean. I won’t say the pants make you look fat, but I might compliment the design on the pockets instead.
All that to say, my mom’s the best.