My mother’s way… or bust?
“She had a way with food, gardens, and men.” Aunt Millie’s smile always widened as she told stories about my mother’s ways. I recalled many nostalgic stories while driving to Tampa and then on to the North Orlando area to celebrate Mother’s Day week 2021 with my four sons and their families. Although some of my aunt’s stories were more far-fetched than others, all intrigued me…“Your mother stayed busy from morning till night and always cooked enough to serve an entire army.”
“Why would anyone want to stay in a kitchen all day?” I’d roll my eyes and laugh. “What about the garden, or the woods, or a beautiful beach? I don’t get it.”
“You’re adorable, dear,” Aunt Millie had said, “but remember, you asked about your mother’s ways. Not yours.
“The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.”Mahatma Gandhi
Mom’s best and God’s gifts
Today, I’m thankful for each tear-inducing sappy story. Every remembrance makes me smile, especially those of summer cookouts on northern shores. My mother set the best beach picnics. She had a way of wooing my dad with fresh clam chowder and crab legs. Aunt Millie also reminded me how mom loved gardening and sprouting wild rose cuttings from the Hamptons. Each story, a reminder of God’s goodness. He freely gives mothers unique talents and gifts. My mom loved God and she adored her family. She had the gift of hospitality added to many other wonderful things. Each God-given gift, a chapter or part of who she was, and each memorable moment, a snapshot of my mother’s way.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.Proverbs 31:26-27 ESV
My mother’s way = Not my way.
I’ve often wondered why my mother and I were so different. We shared the same blood and DNA, but my mother’s ways differed from my own. After raising four sons, I’d say the same today. Did I mention that although I’ve always been the chief cook and dirty dish washer in my family, I’ve secretly (or not so secretly) wished someone else would clean the house or prepare for guests while I play outside all day? There. I said it. I don’t enjoy or take great delight in cleaning or cooking. Well, maybe I do enjoy it during the holidays…I still do it and love huge family and friends get-togethers. I even miss these events since the pandemic changed things up. Might it be I’ve always been the odd one in the family? My sister would agree, “She gets stranger with each day.”
Everything I never cared enough to know
Although my mother died of Alzheimer’s many years ago, I’m thankful for those nine painful years before God called her home. She forgot how to speak or walk, but I knew she loved me. Her eyes spoke volumes. She remembered me, but couldn’t tell me. Her trembling hands stroked my tears away. Her gentle touch, so familiar. We connected in the most profound way and I’m blessed to say I held her hand when she took her last earthly breath. After her death, I continued to inquire about her fondest dreams and passions. Before her illness, other childhood dreams and adult priorities took center stage. My Mother’s way remained mysteriously selfless. Now a mother and grand-numi in my mid-fifties, I find myself understanding and wanting to learn everything I never cared to know about her.
- What was mom’s favorite subject in school?
- Favorite teacher?
- Was she happy?
- What was the best thing she ever accomplished?
- Most adventurous thing?
- Her dreams and aspirations beyond mom-dom?
A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.Cardinal Meymillo
This feisty beauty
I’ve searched through piles of photographs, cards, and letters to discover peculiar clues about the most colorful ways of this feisty redhead—My mother. Her hands were softer than most. Every touch of her slender fingers contradicted at least a hundred hours of housekeeping and summer gardening. I’d watch from a distance, usually trailing behind, as she picked tiger lilies, purple wildflowers, and grasses next to the boggy bank of a nearby stream. Every move deliberate, her face; radiant, smooth and unblemished. Was this her true happy place? I believe it was. It’s where my mind recreates favorite snapshots of my mother’s way.
She had a colorful way.
My dad told me mom’s favorite color was purple. I recalled how she treasured lavender and pink roses. Now they’re a few of my favorite flowers too. I wish I had more vivid memories of mom when she was younger. Why did I let them go? Everyone said she was naturally artistic. Did she like to draw or paint? Did she use a pencil? Watercolors? Acrylics? She once said her parents weren’t easygoing. I bet she meant they weren’t fun—or worse. At times, I remember thinking the same about her. Fleeting moments when we played games, swam in frigid lakes and streams, or when we worked in her garden always eased my mind. Still, I wonder if she enjoyed those moments as much as I did. What if she didn’t worry so much about being the perfect housewife and mother? If we spent more time smelling roses, drawing pictures, or sitting together to share a sandwich instead of her racing off to clean the kitchen, prepare a fantastic meal, or scrub the floors, might she have been happier and healthier?
To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.Maya Angelou
I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t care if anything I tried to do in this life, and especially my writing, didn’t matter. At times, motherhood has many detours, twists, and turns that appear to get us side-tracked or derailed. The struggle to stay the course while we juggle work, family, and creativity is real. No matter what becomes of my personal goals or passions, I’ll never regret spending quality time with my kids and grandkids. The memories are priceless. I might fight demons every day, but I’m sure my mom did too. How about you? Have you ever struggled with balancing your life’s work or passions and God’s call to motherhood?
for I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.Jeremiah 31:25 ESV
Dear friends and moms of all ages,
Have you ever wondered how all things might work together for our good? Yesterday’s trials. Today’s dilemmas? Our rubber garden boots might look like a hole-ridden mess after we weather such storms, but, if we slow down and look for God’s work in our lives, circumstances no longer cloud our vision. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this MOM topic. Don’t forget to join the conversation here in the IAF comments section below this post.
We gain understanding and knowledge from glorious moments—and time spent in mucky trenches. It’s the place where pain and suffering meet wisdom, renewal, and strength. I believe my mother knew this truth, and in selflessly raising three daughters, God renewed her strength with the hope of heaven.
I’ve come to believe if I trust God with every fiber of my being, He meets me where I am and shows me the way. His way. Every day. I hope and pray you trust him too. Wishing you joy, peace, and strength for your journey,
In loving memory of Yvonne Lehman. It was with great sadness I heard the news that my sweet, amazing mentor and friend had suddenly moved on to her heavenly home last week. Yvonne was more than a writing teacher, mother figure, and encourager to hundreds of writers. She lived generously and gave abundantly. She told it like it was, but with love—and lots of sugar. A prolific author of over 3,000,000 books in print, she founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years and was director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat and Acquisitions/Managing Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina’s Candlelight Romance and Guiding Light Women’s Fiction. She instructed writers like me to write right. After several edits, Yvonne featured my first article in Divine Moments, the first Moments book in the (Grace Publishing) series. Yvonne featured many of my stories in eight of her sixteen Moments books. Thankful to have many email correspondences, I’ll cherish each one.
Special thanks to Pixabay for use of all free images: Feature image by MireXa. G1TL image by diapicard, TC image by toodlingstudio, TR image by StockSnap, Bottom Lg image by Stux. Single Lg image by ArtsyBee. G2TL image by Catkin, TC image by langll, TR image by Capri23auto. Bottom Lg image by biancamentil. Single Lg image by MireXa.