Friday, May 12, 2017

Little Moments with Mother

Many of my most special memories of childhood involve times spent with my mother. Mother stayed home with my sister, brother and me, and our home was her life. As a child, it never would have occurred to me to doubt Mother’s happiness or question her fulfillment in her role as Mommy. Her devotion to us was so complete, I really don’t think it would have occurred to her either.

The big events of family life – holidays, vacations and birthdays – are documented in volumes of photo albums Mother carefully organized, but many of my fondest memories of growing up are found in the snapshots of daily life that fill my mind.

Church was the central focus of family life, and I still remember the preparations Mother made to ready the family for worship on Sunday. She often rolled my hair on Saturday night. We would watch Little House on the Prairie or talk about “girl stuff” as she brushed each section of hair and twisted it into a curler. This was a small ritual, of course, but when I longed to have a daughter of my own, one of the first images that would come to my mind was snuggling up on my bed to roll her hair in pink sponge curlers.

Even the most mundane tasks of daily living seem more significant in retrospect. I remember one particular bath time when my 5-year-old heart was unburdened. Guilt overwhelmed me as I cried, admitting that I had been paddled in kindergarten that day for talking during nap time. Always a worrier, I was certain my once spotless record of conduct was ruined forever. Mother assured me that all was not lost. As she bathed me that night, she tenderly washed the scarlet letter of shame away. She reminded me that each new day provided an opportunity to begin anew, and I emerged from that bath feeling clean and hopeful again.

These little moments of caretaking that filled Mother’s day showed me that I was not just taken care of, but also cared for. Because of her love, my teeth were brushed, my hair was combed, and I had vitamins to take.

Mother made me feel special in myriad ways. I looked forward to the end of each school day, knowing Mother would have ready a cup of hot chocolate in my favorite Raggedy Ann mug. I would tell her about the ups and downs of life in elementary school as I sipped the rich, warm cocoa, savoring the marshmallows she had sprinkled on top.

On days she was called to pick me up early because of illness, I would arrive home to find the covers already turned back on my bed and a favorite gown spread out on the pillow. While I snuggled cozily under the covers, Mother would make Welsh rarebit, a cheesy white sauce she would pour over soda crackers. Although its appeal is lost on our spouses today, my sister, brother and I still think of Welsh rarebit as the ultimate comfort food.

Mother showed me in moments like these that I was valuable. Although she often told me she loved me, her acts of nurturing spoke more eloquently than her words. Each time she rubbed my hand during church, hugged me when I came home from school, or kissed me goodnight, she left a lasting impression on my heart.

Many of my happiest moments were times when Mother paused to have fun with me. Once she draped a sheet over the kitchen table and we crawled underneath. What a magical time this was for a 4-year-old, drinking invisible tea with Mommy in our secret castle!

We also spent time together cooking. I still have the preschool cookbook with our recipe for peanut butter balls. In our earliest days of making the cookies, I dutifully rolled the gooey dough into balls as suggested. As my baking confidence grew, we progressed to pressing a Hershey’s Kiss into each ball or imprinting the cookies with a fork. Years later, I was shaping the cookies into letters, teddy bears and holiday designs.

Little moments of playfulness helped me understand that Mother not only loved me, but she liked me too. I felt special knowing that out of all the people in the world, I was one of her favorites.

Now that I’m a mother myself, memories remind me of the importance of day-to-day activities in filling our home with love. Each time I run the children’s bath water, snuggle up with one who is feeling sick, or call them all to the kitchen to make our favorite peanut butter pie recipe, I am reminded that these little moments will add up to a lifetime of love. Pieced together, little moments with Mother work together like a patchwork quilt to keep us feeling secure, knowing we will always be wrapped in our mother’s love.

This article originally appeared in Ideals magazine and was a surprise to my dear mother. May we all cherish every moment with our loved ones.

Happy Mother's Day!

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