Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So I was telling her that...

A blog I read today reminded me about how differently people grow up and how we are raised skews our perception of what is "normal" or "right" or "appropriate. Basically it made me think about my Mom, how different she is from other moms, and how she raised me. Here are a few points:

  • My mom is not the overly nurturing kinda of mama. You wouldn't think that since she's a nurse. She gives great patient care, but we've had more than struggles when my brother or I got sick. She's throw a cold wash cloth on our heads, a trash can by our beds, say a prayer, and then go away... for what seemed like hours! I'm sure that she was never more than 20 feet away. We kid her about being sick and that she didn't "pet" us like we thought she should. Like we thought other people's mothers did.
  • My mother did not let us sleep with her as babies. She had a theory, "if I bought you your own bed, and I have my own bed, shouldn't they be slept in?" That and the theory that since we were babies, it wasn't like we were going to jump right out of them or anything. I did surprise her when I started walking at 6 months though. Fortunately, my brother decided that, after birth, he didn't want to do anything, especially walk, until he was nearly 3. My mom is proud of the fact that she let us cry in our beds from the beginning to learn that, "She was the Mama", and "we were not". When Mommies tell me (and they do), that "they're only little once", I cringe. That may be the case, but babies aren't cognitive of that fact, so it doesn't hurt them. It just hurts you Mommies. Let's all acknowledge that. :)
  • My mom has told me my whole life that she knew right away that she was pregnant and starting talking to me like an adult. After I was born, she would put my carrier up on the table while she would cook or do something in the house and proceed to have a "grown-up" conversation with me. We are firm believers that this is why I started talking to early, so well, and using such large words. My father contributed greatly since he was working on his masters in theology and counseling while JM and I were growing up too. He would make my brother and I sit in his office while he recited/practiced/went over his sermon. To this day, I'm a firm believer that JM and I understand deep theological concepts under age 5 better than most adults did. I could tell you the difference between pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib in elementary school.
  • My mom was not a stuffed animal Mom. She does like toys that make noise or sing though (I'll tell you about that later). She may have bought us stuffed animals, but they were FORBIDDEN from sleeping with me. If you put a bear or fluffy anything in my bed today, I will throw it on the floor. The flipside of that is, if you take my pillow, there will be great bloodshed, wailing, and gnashing of teeth as you will lose a limb or your life. Your choice.
  • My mom instilled the concept in my brother and I to grow up and be somebody. My mom is the second child of four, and the oldest girl in her family. She was the first one to go to college, and to go off to college. My grandparents moved from SC to a little town in AL the summer between my mother's junior and senior year in high school. They wouldn't let her finish HS in SC, so she decided quickly that she needed to get out of town quick. She experienced life (yes, there are stories), and always made a point to tell JM and I how much she enjoyed college, and that it was being away that really made her appreciate home. My mom gets grief from people in our little town who don't understand why my brother and I would choose to live so far away... even so much as comments about how she was a bad parent -- to her face! We just choose not to live there because 1) there's nothing to do, 2) there's not a lot of choice for employment, 3) because we all know that we're in the places God wants us to be, and 4) because I don't want to go back without a husband. I know that sounds crazy, but it's the truth. I know one or two people that aren't married, divorced, or pregnant. But I'm a firm believer that even though I'm 200 miles away, and JM is 1400 miles away, we are closer to our Mom verses people who lives in the same town (even on the same street) as theirs.
  • She was not a "soccer mom". My bro and I were involved in stuff, but my mother just kept her distance at times. We've had to resolve all the issues of resentment that generated too. I can't remember her ever being at an Honor's day or Field Day. Thank God too, because in either the fifth or sixth grade, I work all white so people could sign their names, and a girl (who's name I can't remember... she shoplifted at Kroger... Crystal, what was her name?) drew outlines of two handprints on my butt with the words "CAN'T TOUCH THIS". M.C. Hammer may have been overcome with emotion, but I can't see my mother being too proud of that. Especially as I accepted a Jr. Beta award, and All A's award that day.
  • It may sound like I'm trashing my mom, but know that I saved the greatest thing for last. My mom... more than anything is a woman of faith. I don't just know it, I saw it, heard it,and lived it. A brief rundown if you don't know -- my parents were married 9/11/76 and were ministers (my dad as pastor) in 7 churches in 11 years in Alabama. In December of 87, my parents separated and subsequently divorced. Let's just keep to the facts when I tell you that it rocked them, our family, and the community. Because of that, my mom has had to endure more ridicule and judgment than I could have ever imagined. Long after my parents divorce, she shared with me that she never told anyone what was going on in my parents marraige, that is, anyone but Jesus. She knew when she got filled with the Holy Ghost as a 13 year old that He was all she had. And when times got rocky, then bad, then just nasty, she never turned to family or friends -- she turned to Jesus. So my favorite thing/quirk/whateveryouwannacall it about my mom is that I remember waking up at 3:30 and 4:00 in the morning many times during my life hearing her in the living room praying, crying, and interceding for our family, our church, and the world. In the last few years, I've seen her tested, and I still get amazed. Because of her... I know what faith in action looks like. I know what it means to sew Christmas play and Easter cantata costumes on Saturday night before they're worn the next day. I know what it means to buy crayons and supplies on Sunday morning in expectation of kids coming to church to hear about Jesus. I know what it looks like for my mother to dress up in Camo and wear a bathing suit to children's church (for 26 weeks total) to encourage them to come and read the word and get fed spiritually. I know what it looks like when the ministry you work so hard for is taken away from you and handed to some little twinkie who only works it for a few months. I know how the disdain looks when my mom has offered encouraging advice to a pastor's wife, only to have that pastor's wife criticize and belittle her. And in spite of all that, I continue to see how my mom presses on, pushes the discouragement down and praises the Lord for His Goodness and His mercy. And I know what it looks like to see God's promises, God's good promises, come true right in front of my eyes.

So my Mama may not look like you, or like your mom, or like the Mom I'll become, but trust me when I say, I wouldn't have her any other way.

After writing all this, I realize I probably should have thought about this closer to Mother's Day, but ... shouldn't every day be Mother's Day?

1 comment:

Holly said...

For what it is worth Jenn...we never let our girls sleep in our bed. It was just a choice we made from the start...and they seem to have no harm from it to date!

Your comment about having grown up conversations cracked me up! Why?? Because as an only child in a family where I was the only baby....that was how we rolled. They talked to me like a grown up from day one! I had quite a vocabulary at an early age too