She taught me how to love.
That’s my most striking memory from childhood — no matter how far we pushed her, no matter how tired she felt, no matter how long her day was, when you jostled the cup of her life, love spilled out. I can hardly ever remember her being truly angry with me. And when she was, it’d pass quickly, like a plains’ thunderstorm.
She’d make us “Happy Meals” – macaroni for hair, small hamburger-patties shaped into eyes and mouths, ketchup for a nose, and a veggie carefully arranged into piles that looked like cheeks. It made us feel loved.
When we really made her mad, we knew we just had to get her laughing. That’s what she’d do when she really got upset… she’d laugh. We knew she never ceased loving us.
I remember sleeping on her lap in church. She’d rest her Bible on my forehead, and though I rarely slept, I think my soul was fed in her lap with the whispery music of those thin pages turning. She modeled His love.
We were always good enough. She was not a mother of unmet expectations. She loved us just like we were.
She modeled compassion. She taught us that love always has hands and feet – tangible acts of kindness that express true faith, hope, and love. And she showed us how to love by serving others — meals to the elderly, acts of compassion towards strangers, the list could go on… always, always giving.
I was once concerned when a first-grade-classmate didn’t have a doll to play with at recess. She took me shopping, and I was allowed to pick out any doll in the store to give to the girl. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, we were ‘poor’ too, so this was a first for me — I don’t think I’d ever picked out any doll on the shelf for myself. Mom knew we had enough, and that splurging on this other little girl was a luxury she needed and perhaps, most of all, a lesson in compassion that I needed. She knew that to love us meant that she needed to show us how to love others.
I watched my mom love any child who crossed her path. It is the type of love I haven’t yet seen mirrored in another woman — a willingness to ‘mother’ whoever God put in her life. I think this kind of love opened her heart to adoption, but it also nourished the children she sometimes babysat and the ones she met in the park. I think I carry a seed of this love with me every time I snuggle one of our foster home’s babies against my chest.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. When I’m a mom someday, I hope I love like you do.