Last summer my friend Erin Lane started a blog series that I thought was brilliant. "I am who I am in part because of you" I promptly asked her if I could do the same series on my blog. She generously said yes so I got right to work. (you can start laughing now) I have thought about it so many times. I keep thinking about all of the wonderful people who have helped shape who I am. This past week I decided it was do or die time for this series, and what better place to start than with my mother.
picture by John Hodges on my Motorola Droid
My mother and I have had an interesting relationship. I am the youngest of three children. I have an older brother and an older sister. I was "a surprise." You wouldn't guess the surprise part because my brother is two and a half years older than me, and my sister is two and a half years older than him. It seems perfectly planned, right? My mom had a serious post partum depression after I was born, and this was back in the day when they called it "crazy." You just had a healthy baby girl, why wouldn't you be happy? In an added bonus. I didn't like to sleep. Well, I liked to sleep~ I just didn't like to sleep at night. I would stay up late and sleep all morning. I was just getting a jump on my teenaged years.
Do I have to talk about when I was a teenager? How about we leave it at I was such a pain in the ___ and so troubled about who I was that we wound up in counseling. I think it was the best thing that happened to my mom and I. We didn't become best buddies overnight, but we gained a much better relationship. I am so grateful that she and my dad made that happen. Then I went to college. Let's just say I went back and forth to college. I floundered. I have no doubt that I had ADD for most of my life. I am not trying to be cute when I say that, I truly believe it. Of course, this was back in the day that they called ADD "easily distracted." My mother bore all of my whims so well. I know that so many times she must have wanted to smack some sense into me, but she didn't. She let me make my mistakes and let me clean it up. She always stood beside me and supported me. She always told me that I could do anything if I was willing to work at it.
My mom has also always been a woman of great faith in God. She is not a very trusting person. She has a good reason to be reluctant to trust. She did not have good examples of kindness or faithfulness when she was younger. She did teach me to be cautious when trusting other people, but she always encouraged me to trust God. Is it a surprise I ended up working for the church?
Our relationship has only gotten better as I sped into adulthood. We still have our moments. Put us in close quarters for more than a couple of days and you have a recipe for disaster. We live next door to each other. There is a large pasture between our houses, but we're next door. How weird is that? It is weird, but it is so fantastic, too. My children are a short walk or bike ride from their grandparents. My daughter seems to have cookie radar and always knows when Mom is baking.
The last few months since my Dad fell have been hard on my Mom. If you have any sort of crisis, or have to have surgery, Mom is the one that will come to your house and cook dinner for your family and get caught up on your laundry, but she is not a nurse. She has never pretended to be. Finding herself suddenly in the caregiver role for my Dad was a shock. She has borne it so well. There were several moments when we all could have given up but she never considered it. There were moments when he was in the hospital that she would have given her right arm for a nap, but instead of going home for a break she would just scoot her chair a little closer to his bed so she could hold his hand while she napped.
I think that is at the heart of why I am so grateful for my mom. She taught me so much about loving. The greatest Love is not about romance, candy hearts and flowers. The greatest Love was given to us by God and it's about loving others, even when it's difficult. My mom has been a great example of this kind of love. I will always be glad that she loved me enough to let me be me.