Friday, May 11, 2007

Moms Know Best

GiBee hosted a really wonderful Mother's Day Contest where you could submit a 1500 character explanation of "the one most special piece of advice your mother or mother figure ever told you."

Have y'all noticed how I seem to misconstrue things or how the facts get altered in my mind? (No comment, Mr. Right...) Especially when I'm stinkin' busy at work? Because when I read the directions, I totally read 1500 words. Not characters... So when I sent my entry to GiBee, she immediately wrote back to tell me something along the lines, "Can't you follow directions?! This is a novel, girl! But I really like it, so I'll let it in."

And that is why GiBee and I are friends. She called me on it, teased me lovingly and then put it on the pile anyway. That's friendship, y'all. Knowing how to make fun of someone and still make that person feel good is an art, y'all. It's an art.

So here's my submission which is slightly over the 1500 character count... oooooh, about 3500 too many.

But does that really matter amongst friends? Evidently not. (Hey, I thought I was doing great because it was only 955 words...)

I can't peg down a single woman who gave me the best advice on being a mom. That's like trying to pick out your favorite child. If you have only one child, then of course that's easy... I wouldn't think that you would pick somebody else's kid... But if like me, you have more than one mom because everyone's mom became "Mom" to you, then you know you can't make that choice. It's the same for me with deciding who influenced me. I grew up with so many moms that I can't pick one who helped me the most; however, what I can do is describe how I have become the mom that I am from all the great examples that God set before me at just the right time.

From my mother I've learned that relying on God in the good and the bad is always the best choice. No matter what the world throws at you, having hope that God will take care of it gives you the strength to endure. She taught me that mothering is a tireless job that requires energy and patience for the multitude of activities - and I mean a multitude: plays, swing choir, concert choir, gospel choir (one of three white faces in the group, but boy that was fun, lively music!), youth group, dances, social activities… The woman was on the run my entire high school career and never once did she let on that she resented giving up her time for me.

She also taught me the art of giving from what you have happily and that if your husband invites someone over after church for a meal, it's okay to tell your kid to not eat as much (and make something for her later) so that everything would go smoothly and the guests would be satisfied. My mom opened her home to anybody, making it a safe haven for any other teen who needed it. She never knew how many kids she would find on her floor Saturday morning since often all my friends would congregate at our house for movies or games the night before. She's also taught me that a mother and a daughter can be good friends, even though they live hundreds of miles apart.

My mother-in-awe has taught me that you're never too old to get on the floor to play with children, that children are gifts from God and that everyone has a part to play in the Christian walk of a child. She's able to see Christ and God in ANY circumstance, item or person. She's also shown me that scriptures are to be a source of disciplining and a source of fun for all family members. She's also revealed to me that it is possible to love your in-laws with an open heart and to make them feel special to be a member of their family. She's also shown me that I can save a trunk load of money when it comes to Christmas because she spoils everyone.

From my "many other moms" I’ve discovered the art and importance of loving other children. Having extra patience for them, a hug at any given moment, a smile or encouraging word or even showing up to their high school plays or concerts will give those children memories to recall as they are in the midst of parenting too.

From all my mothers in the South I've learned that respect should be given at all times, please/thank you or yes ma'am/no ma'am should be ingrained into everyone and if a child misses that area of manners, calling her on it is a good thing. I've also found that hospitality to others, be it a party or someone who needed it on a whim, is fun not only for the guest(s) but for the host as well. Also I've discovered that when another set of parents take on another couple's children so that they can get away, it's really cool to give them all the sugar cereals that she never got at home. Boy do I remember loving to go to my other mother's house because she would ALWAYS have a special treat like that for my brother and me. Recently I told this "second mom" that I loved going to her house, knowing that I would have a treat, and she replied, "Shalee, we didn't do that with our kids. We only had that treat around for when you came." Now that's love, I tell you!

And from a host of great mothers, I've learned that saying sorry to your children is not something that will undermine your parenting; it is the one way to show children that we're all able to make mistakes and to still grow as people. I've also learned from them that no matter how much time you have with your children, it's never enough. So I try to love on my children, play with my children, sing with my children, get to know with my children, BE with my children as much as possible. I'm not their best friend, but I am someone that I want them to love and trust. Maybe later the best friends idea will come into play…

I've learned through experience that I'll never know everything there is to know about parenting; it's always an adventure of life-learning that I hope will never stop. And I've learned that you can love more deeply than you ever thought possible, even for a self-centered person like me, and hope is always new each morning in the smile of a waking child.

And I have hope that I can be the mom that my children and other children remember fondly on Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day to ALL the many moms out there. May you really get to relax on Sunday, and may the "I love you"s never stop at the end of the day.

Oh, and I love you, Mom.

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