Mother’s Day got me thinking about lessons I have learned from my mom.
My earliest memories involve me crawling into her bed to wake her up for the day and her singing “You are My Sunshine.” She taught me the power of a song and a snuggle.
I have a specific memory of doing yard work with her when I was a toddler and her swift response when she found a spider crawling up my leg. In this I learned that it is ok to be scared as a parent – but you still must make swift movements and quick decisions.
I smile when I think about how squeaky clean her demeanor and language has always been – until she drops some dishes on her foot and thinks no one is around. Here I learned that no one is perfect – and a well-placed expletive is worth a thousand words.
When I told Mom that my high school crush drove a BMW to school, she said: “If you drive a BMW when you are 17, what do you have to look forward to in life?”
In the last six months I lived at home, I remember suddenly finding my favorite soda in the fridge on a regular basis. I’d never been allowed to regularly have soda. It felt like a gift and a rite of passage and possibly a plea to me to stop growing up.
When she dropped me off at a state university, there was a lump in her throat. I remember thinking I had never seen her so soft and vulnerable. She hugged me hard and let me go. At the time, it was no big deal to me. When I think about it now, I can’t help but tear up.
When I told her I wanted to marry Debra, she was excited. When I told her we wanted to get married in a quirky restaurant instead of a church, she found a wedding dress to drape over one of the giant frog statues.
When my infant daughter was put in the NICU because her lungs weren’t working right, mom listened to me break down on the phone and rushed to hospital amid car trouble to hold me in the hallway. And she was there to celebrate when Sadie was sent home.
Last September, I awoke to a phone call from dad trying way too hard to sound calm. He said the words “mom” and “heart attack” and “hospital” and I muttered something about being on the way.
I got there before they wheeled her back for surgery – the nurses left the two of us alone. I bent over her in a bleak basement room and held her like she used to hold me and my messy morning hair. And all she wanted to say in that moment was that she was worried about my family and my siblings and my dad.
This past Sunday we all ate chicken and vegetables together to celebrate her. We gave her a shopping spree of sorts to get new clothes since she has lost weight and gotten fit in the months since that scary September.
And we all took a moment to acknowledge that this day in May could have felt very different – as it surely feels for so many who have already lost their moms.
The most recent lesson mom has taught me? You can’t take people for granted.