You know, Mama, I’m probably going to have to send you an email that says, “Hey, go read my blog.” And include a link to this post.

And then I’ll have to call you and say, “Hey, did you click that link I sent you?”

And you’ll say, “No, honey. I haven’t checked my email in a couple of days.”

And I’ll roll my eyes. And even though we’re on the phone, you’ll know I’m rolling my eyes, and you’ll laugh at me, and at yourself.

That’s one of the things I love most about you: your ability to laugh at yourself. And it’s one of the traits of yours that I’m most glad to have inherited – or, perhaps, acquired.

I know there was a time when you wondered if I would ever stop taking myself so seriously, like when I was, what?, three or four and I got into your makeup and put on a cleansing mask and came out to see you, so proud of myself because wasn’t I a big girl with this all over my face and you took one look at me and said, “Oh sweetie, that’s never going to come off,” and I believed you.

Or the time in fourth grade when you were my teacher and I couldn’t find my math homework, even though I searched all through my perfectly organized binder and my perfectly organized desk and my perfectly organized backpack, crying the whole time and becoming increasingly hysterical until you probably thought you would die of embarrassment.

Now that I have a perfectionistic son and a high-strung daughter of my own, I’m starting to get it, how hard it must have been for laid back you to even know what to do with high-strung, perfectionistic me.

But sometimes you got it just right: I remember in fifth grade, when Sarah had said she didn’t want to be friends with me anymore because she didn’t like Carrie, and she said I had to choose, and I loved them both, but Carrie was new at school and didn’t know anyone but me, so I chose her, and I came home and sobbed on your chest, and you just held me and stroked my hair and didn’t say anything except, “Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry.”

And my freshman year in high school, leaving the safety of my little Stockdale Christian boat and embarking on the giant container ship that was Bakersfield High School, surrounded by all those teenagers, more teenagers than I had ever seen in one place in my life, except maybe Magic Mountain, which was much bigger and the teens wanted to be there, and most of them didn’t want to be at BHS, so the attitude, the atmosphere in that place was so scary to me, and every morning, you told me I was beautiful (which I never believed) and that you loved me (which I never doubted).

I remember how you prayed over me early in that year, for my safety from the red-haired girl in my P.E. class with a temper to match her tresses, who threatened me in the locker room, said she’d kick the sh*t out of me if she got a bruise where my wild kick had sent the soccer ball sailing into her shin. Once again I came home crying. You prayed. And the following Monday, that girl was no longer in my class. Her schedule changed, and she had P.E. a different period. You just smiled when I told you.

And then in college, when Rebekah, my first and nearly only friend at school, bruised my heart when she suddenly stopped talking to me and then broke it with her shaming letter that said she no longer wanted to be my friend because I was unkind and hurtful and would I please take the hint and stop talking to her? And I called you in tears and you were spitting nails that anyone could be so juvenile and mean and you told me over and over that it wasn’t my fault at all, and after awhile I even believed you.

Now that I’m a mom, I bet part of you wanted to march down to Sarah’s house and chew her out, and whack that red-headed girl upside the head, and give Rebekah a very large piece of your mind. And I know for sure that those situations were as hard for you as they were for me, harder maybe, because you ached that your precious girl was going through such heartache, your heart cracking with mine, splitting right down its stem.

I didn’t know motherhood was like that. You never let on. You seemed to have it all together, laughing and singing and working and taking care of us. I never knew that you were probably doing just what I’m doing: making it up as you went along, wondering if a lot of love and a lot of prayer would be enough.

And you know what? It was. It is.


–a repost from the archives
in honor of my mom’s birthday today

Today, I’m grateful for:

2721. My mom.

2722. Her every day reassurances all through the horrible years that were high school.

2723. Her ability to laugh easily and often. And at herself.

2724. Her generosity.

2725. She came and stayed with me for two months after the twins were born, putting her life on hold, for which gift she had the privilege of enduring my laundry-related f-bombs and lectures, and did so without anger. (Thank you, Mama, for your grace for me.)

2726. Six months after the boys’ birth, when I was a quivering mass of fear and tears, I said, “I want my mom,” and she flew up on a moments’ notice.

2727. Her faithful phone calls every Thursday to give Jack his spelling test.

2728. Her staunch belief in me and my abilities for as long as I can remember.

2729. Another year in which she’s a part of my life on this good earth. I will gratefully accept that gift for as many years as God gives it.

Your turn: What are you thankful for?

Please list three or four (or ten!) things for which you’re grateful down in the comment box. Let’s lift up a hymn of grateful praise to the Giver of all good gifts!

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Linking today with Ann Voskamp, who inspired the gift list in the first place.