One Christmas, when I was about 12 years old, my mom asked for a memorized poem as a gift from my sister and I. We had racked our brains out trying to come up with the perfect present, and when we eventually gave in to asking our mother for an idea, this answer was not what we expected. My mom has never been one for material possessions. Sentiment means a great deal more to her than a Fossil watch or Kate Spade purse. You can’t compare the two in her eyes. This is why I feel the best Mother’s Day gift for my one-of-a-kind mama is a post explaining why she’s my whole world. This is my best attempt to convey exactly how I feel about her.
As I get older, the importance of a healthy relationship with parents becomes clearer to me. Some adults my age simply aren’t as fortunate as me when it comes to this. I’ve been given the perfect balance of a mother AND best friend all in one! We have a natural and effortless connection. We know how to have fun together, and vibe off of each other’s humor. Weather we’re watching The Godfather with popcorn and massages included, attending church and getting avocado toast at First Watch afterwards, or listening to a new podcast in the car, time spent with my mother is time well spent. Despite this, she knows when to lay down the line and set me straight. She gives the most thoughtful advice, always looking to God first before she does. I am certain my mother does not feed me lies I want to hear in the mists of anger or sadness. She tells me the hard truth, no matter how often I reject it. And whenever I am acting as if I’m better than the world I live in, she snaps me back to reality.
If you don’t know my mother, it’s probably because you’ve never been in the same room as her. There isn’t a drop of shyness running through her veins. I consider myself to be a friendly and personable person, and I get that from my mama! Curiously and silently, I’ve observed how she interacts with people over the years, and have learned that they don’t have to be strangers if you don’t want them to be. You are presented with an opportunity to learn more and grow through each interaction. She knows exactly how to connect with people, even if they don’t have much in common. For this reason, my family and I often call her Chatty Cathy, which some people might see as an insult, but I think it is one of the best qualities about my mom! She shows such genuine kindness and care to each and every human she meets. I love knowing I can bring anyone around my mother, and they will see the amazing qualities I see.
One of those qualities is her hard work and resistance to giving up. For as long as I can remember my mother has worked a 9-5 job, and saying 9-5 is probably low balling time spent there to be honest. Her job isn’t easy, but it’s the dedication that makes it possible. The surprising part about this is that I can count on my hand the amount of occasions she has come home from a long day at work and complained about it. Complaining is not in her nature. When she comes home from work, my mother would rather hear about my day (no matter how uneventful it is) than share her frustration with me.
My childhood is filled with family vacations, and 80% of them were camping trips. My family practically mastered what my dad would consider the art of setting up camp, and tearing it down. Once, we were packing up our site after a week in the wilderness and my mother took on the unfavorable job of packing the sleeping bags. She perfectly packed away four sleeping bags, but the fifth didn’t come quite as easy. She tried packing it tightly, tying it up, stretching out the pouch it was supposed to fit in, but nothing was working. I kid you not, my mother spent an hour trying to get this dang sleeping bag into its pouch and it fought her every push and shove. “Mom just give up already! It’s okay!” we told her. She was persistent in that if the sleeping bag fit before, it WILL fit again. You know the saying, if there’s a will, there’s way? Well my mother had the will, and she found the way, so thankfully this story has a happy ending. Although it seemed hopeless, and I’m still not sure how she managed her achievement, the sleeping bag ended up in it’s pouch. This scenario also meant my mother took on the lifelong nickname of Sleeping Bag. Whenever we hear that nickname, we’re reminded of my mother’s stubbornness to never give up. My mama is one of the most intelligent people I know, therefore if there is something in her way she is bound to create an unforeseen solution.
This past year both my sister and I moved out, leaving our Essex Mill home to our parents and younger brother Colin. I have learned more than I could have imagined from moving out, especially about living with friends and maintaining a clean household. I assumed cleanliness would be an issue at some point, but I didn’t fully grasp the frustration around it. Time and time again I would come home from class to a sink full of dishes. Reluctantly, I scrubbed off the week’s leftovers and put the dishes in the dishwasher. Eventually, I had to address it with my room mates and while that solved the problem initially, it resurfaced soon after. One day after coming home to yet another sink full of dishes I said aloud to myself, “Gosh I know how mom felt!” And then I thought…when I was younger my siblings and I were awful about doing the dishes. The way we acted would’ve made you think the dishes would kill us. My mom would come home tired from working all day, and all the poor lady wanted was a dish free sink! My sibs and I struggled to give her that for absolutely no reason other than we were lazy. That excuse didn’t fly with my mom.
I can’t help but feel like my life is going to be scattered with similar moments like that, gosh I know how mom felt. When my children are pushing my buttons by refusing to eat their veggies, fighting in the car, complaining about their curfew or the fact that they don’t have a car, I will probably roll my eyes and say to myself gosh I know how mom felt. When I watch my baby walk onto the school bus for the first time, score a goal in their soccer game, graduate high school, and send them off to college I will say it again. This time with a smile I often saw on my mom’s face; gosh I know how mom felt. I’m looking forward to these moments when I gain further compassion for the women my mama is.
When I think of the woman I get to call my mother, the first word that pops into my head is selfless. She has taught me in every area of my life what it means to look past your own desires in an attempt to serve others and God. This became more apparent to me when my mother embarked on a mission trip to Guatemala. She came home with countless pictures, and I filled through each and every one intrigued to see her in a land far from Cincinnati. Seeing her hold the tiny village children and teaching them about Jesus had me sold; my mom is the coolest. Not many moms out there would give up thousands of dollars and a week of their time to hike up a mountain in blistering heat to play with a bunch of rowdy kids. But my mom did so with a smile because she embodies what it is to be selfless.
People may think picking the most valuable lesson they’ve learned from their mom would be difficult, but for me it comes easy. God has given you everything you need. Be grateful. That’s what my mom has instilled in me, and it seems so simple, but it took her years to finally nail this into my brain and I’m thankful she didn’t throw the towel in on me. I think it all clicked when I followed her footsteps and went on the same mission trip two years after her. My eyes were opened to a further understanding of God, the world, and my mom. After this trip, I was drowning in the guilt I experienced from reflecting on times where I complained about my first world problems. I cannot name a single reason I have to moan and groan about the crack in my phone screen, the barista who screwed up my Starbucks order, the dreaded 15 minute walk to school, or the numbers in my bank account. When I want to complain, I take a look around at the blessings that easily surround me every day. It isn’t hard to be snapped back to reality.
My children will be incredibly fortunate if I can teach them a fraction of what my mama taught me. She is a light in a world so dimly lit. She is a light that many people don’t deserve, yet she keeps shinning for them. I have her to thank for all of the best qualities about me, but how do I even being thanking her? This post certainly isn’t enough but I hope it suffices, because as a broke college student a Fossil watch or Kate Spade purse wasn’t in the cards anyways. As I get older, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to thank my mama for everything she has done is to be the best Christian I can possibly be. Passing down her qualities to my children, and shinning my mother’s light and God’s on those I meet day to day is going to be my way of saying thanks for everything mama.
Thank you for being my whole world mom. Everything I am is because of you, and for that I am eternally grateful. I hope you feel extra special today. Happy Mother’s Day.