I’ve been thinking about how we moms want our kids to remember us. And maybe what we think will make an impression on them is very different than what they end up remembering. Maybe it’s not keeping up on the laundry or the dishes or doing the perfect crafts or attending every sporting event. Maybe our kids are marked by memories of our motherhood we couldn’t possibly imagine let alone check off a list of recommended parenting to-dos.
So I invited four friends this week to share a “What Mama Did” post with us. What special, unique memory did they carry away from their wash, rinse, and repeat days of childhood that their moms never could have planned for?
And tomorrow I’m going to ask you to come and share your own “What Mama Did” memory.
May they encourage you and remind you that you are beloved so much deeper, higher and wider than the laundry hamper.
Today, my friend Seth is sharing with us – how a son might remember his mama. Seth’s wife Amber is one of my dearest friends and together they make the Internet a better place. Seth and I have a law degree in common, but he actually still uses his on a regular basis while writing Internet poetry and prose on the side.
Before the urban sprawl, the popping up of shopping malls, strip centers, mega churches, and big business,we lived in Grapevine, Texas. In those days, Grapevine was a wide open, endless dirt patch, nestled just north of Dallas. On some mornings, we commuted into the heart of town, where my sister attended a Christian school. I was a tender-hearted child, always broken by my sister’s leaving–she, my best friend, and second-best playmate.
After she slid from the back seat, after the obligatory “have a good day,” my mother, resourceful as she was and hoping to assuage my sadness, would point to the water towers and gas tanks that pimple-marked the Texas landscape. “Look! Imperial drones!” she cried. “We’re doomed!”
It was the 1980s, and seat belt laws were a bit more lenient, so I’d crawled into the floorboard and put my legs in the seat. I was Luke Skywalker sitting in the reclined gunner’s chair of the Millennium Falcon.
“I need more power, Leah! I can’t hold them off much longer!” I shouted.
“I’m giving her all she’s got Luke!” my mother answered, blending Star Wars and Star Trek dialogues. It was blasphemous to me even in those days, but I forgave her and continued the charade.
“It’s okay! I’ve got this!”
I made blaster sounds, pings, at-at-atas, and explosions with my mouth, then belted, “woo-hoo! I got another one!” I was a skilled marksman, a tie-fighter’s worst nightmare, and mom was my biggest fan, always thanking me for holding Darth Vadar beyond tractor-beam’s length.
As I grew older, the days of the Rebel Alliance yielded to after-dinner story time. My mother purchased the complete set of the Chronicles of Narnia, and each night, we’d sit at the table for hours as she read chapter after chapter. She assigned each character distinct voice—Aslan’s deep and austere, Reepicheep’s high-pitched and full of bravado—and read each sentence intentionally, as if painting the Narnian landscape by inflection. On occasion, she bolted upright out of her seat, shot an invisible arrow, and read a line as if she were the inimitable Queen Susan.
The way mother read the Chronicles was a testament to her imaginative powers. She was a better summoner than Aslan and the White Witch combined.
Mother always encouraged us to use our imaginations, to retain our sense of wonder. She forbid video games, discouraged cartoons. She opted, instead, for play-acting and story-telling; for art and music. Perhaps it was her attempt to foster some sense of imagination and wonder. Perhaps, though, her motives were simpler. Maybe she was just a big kid herself; maybe she reveled in play as much as we did.
My mother was good at play, never too busy for it. She always channeled the Force, and felt the breath of Aslan himself. She was a guitar-bearer, a clay sculpter. She was a crayon-colorer and finger-painter. Mother was stern at times, yes. But she was always the best playmate a kid could have, because she was unashamed to explore the depths of our imaginations with us.
And that’s what what my mama did.
Seth says, “I am a working stiff who enjoys good sentences, good music, good food, and fishing the running rivers of Arkansas. I am blessed to be the husband of Amber Haines and the father of four boys. I’ve been trying to shake the haunting of Rich Mullins’ lyric “nobody tells you when you get born here how much you’ll come to love it but how you’ll never belong.” (To no avail, mind you.) It’s a privilege to scratch out words at my personal blog, and for other folks when the opportunity arises. Follow me on Twitter, where I regularly share good music, good poetry, creative prompts, and general absurdities. Thanks for reading.”