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 on Friday 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, Hilary, the daughter I can only pray my Zoe grows up to be like, shares what her mama did…
She has offered her life to us in bits and pieces over the chipped mugs for years. Each time I feel a story swelling in the bright and cramped kitchen, I wrap my fingers around the tea (it is always tea) and settle my heart down to the steady rhythm of mothers and daughters who make time. I pray the winged prayer of grateful daughters everywhere: Oh God, thank you for my mom.
They are stories about hopeful high school dances and the disappointments that followed. They are stories about boys who couldn’t drive safely home from the city late on a Saturday night, seventh grade art class and perpetual stomachaches. They are stories about four hour car rides and crying, and the walk to the library to read everything there – twice – and swim lessons and snowball fights with all the children on the block.
And they are the cheers of high school pep squads she wasn’t on but learned the cheers for anyway. And they are the singing in the kitchen of the wrong words and the mixed up words of each day’s pop song. In my kitchen we sing “Girls on Fire” right next to “My Baby Takes The Morning Train” at the top of our lungs while the tea brews and the crumbs of toast are left on the table. Because in our house my mom has always taught us that there is much more hidden in the grace of the ordinary than in the clean countertops and properly working toasters.
On Saturday mornings for all the years of high school and into college, I would wake up and scurry out of my warm bed. I would jump over the squeaky board in the hallway between our rooms and leap into their big bed, pressing my toes against her warm socks, welcomed by her hug. Dad would climb the stairs with the tea and donuts, and I would tell Mom my own stories: stories of high schools dances without a slow dance invitation, debate tournaments and what it felt like to lose, worries about what I looked like and why it wasn’t lovely and graceful like the other girls. I would whisper to the covers and the cold weekend mornings all the growing pains, and my mom would sip her tea and then –
she would laugh.
She would hug and kiss my forehead and remind me that she was like me too, and there is no telling what wonders are in store for a God who does such big things. She would throw her hands in the air as we moved out of the bed and into the day, and sing or dance to a hummed rendition of whatever was the hit on American Idol the week before, and laugh.
My mom has a laugh that can fill a house in thirty seconds with a depth of love that would astound you. A laugh of all the stories stored up that are just like yours, just like mine, just like all of us who are growing up in the world and wondering how to do it right.
If you asked me to tell you what my mama did to stretch and grow me in love all these twenty-two years? I would tell you she taught me to laugh.
I would lean close to you, my fingers laced around a chipped mug, and tell you the stories that I learned to tell about myself – stories of being dumped without realizing it on the Boston Common, stories of falling into carpet glue a day after my sister’s wedding, stories of wearing skirts to work inside out or singing “Girl on Fire” while shoveling snow in the middle of a blizzard. I would wrap us both up in my mother’s love -
a love that laughs
and tells stories to make you laugh
and in the midst of the laughter teaches our hearts to echo God’s own raw delight in His children.
Because that’s what Mom did. She taught me that laughter is a gravity-defying love. And she laughed and kissed and hugged my heart back to joy. Every messy kitchen table story and Saturday morning.