"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
This was not part of the book I created for Mama, but as I was reflecting this week on some blessings, and thinking about LOVE, I wanted to offer these reflections:
Mama’s love was a tough love. She had high expectations, and while, growing up it felt conditional; in retrospect, it was not. But you can bet disappointing her had big consequences -- stern looks, ear thumps, spankings, switchings, lectures, missing out on favorite things, and so much more. At the time, those didn’t feel much like love. Honestly, to a kid’s heart, they seem more like hate. But as a first-time mom, Mama always did the very best she could for me, and she always viewed her job to help make me into the best person I could be. That is love, too.
Mama, though incredibly intelligent and very talented, viewed it as her job to be a stay-at-home mom. Since we were home together all day every day, we had the opportunity/misfortune to see each other’s imperfections up close and personal consistently. I often disappointed her and she often disappointed me. I wish I could say that I was a great daughter and she was a great mom all the time, and we loved well 24-7, but that would be a lie. Here’s what I know after 53 years of walking alongside my mom.
Mama wasn’t the most affectionate mom in the world. (Her mom was not very affectionate with her, either). She didn’t give compliments easily. I’m not sure whether that helped CREATE my need for Words of Affirmation, or if it is simply one of life’s ironies that she wasn’t good at the thing I need most. The letter she wrote us is precious to me because it offers some affirmations that I don’t feel like I got from her as I was growing up. And honestly, looking back, it appears that perhaps her love language was quality time and acts of service -- and I wasn’t particularly adept at offering those, either -- especially in those atrocious teenage years.
The thing is that with (at least some) mothers and daughters, grace and forgiveness is the most amazing currency, regardless of your love language, because we ALL make mistakes. As I met a friend for coffee this week, she asked if Mama and I had a chance to talk about our forgiveness and grace for each other. My answer was Yes, although it was not the tearful outpouring of emotions you might think or expect. Over time, mostly through my writing (go figure!), I shared words of apology, forgiveness, grace . . . and in her matter of fact way, she shrugged off those deep conversations with some of her favorite comments: “Oh well, that’s life.” “Life’s not fair.” etc. Of course, since we are both criers, there were also smatterings of tears and hugs amidst her attempt at a lackadaisical response.
I wrote this poem for her a number of years ago (2009) for Mother’s Day:
On days like today, I think of the gifts I’d like to give,
But, instead of giving, I’d actually take away –
The discomfort of 9 months of waiting,
The long, hard hours of labor,
The 6 weeks of crying, sleepless nights.
I’d take away the sibling squabbles,
The skint-up knees and temper tantrums.
I’d take from you the sass and attitude
I gave back then – wiping out their memory.
I’d remove all the nights of missed curfews,
The lies told, and the worries I brought.
I’d lovingly scrape away all the hard times
Throughout our lives together, leaving only happy memories.
But then, when I came to now,
Our relationship wouldn’t be the same. . .
Those challenges made us the mother and daughter we are.
Yes, I have regrets, and things I’d take away,
But it would change who we are now –
The friendship we have and the love we hold dear.
I hope it’s enough to look back on those days
As building blocks that helped create
The woman I am today, and the relationship we share.
I hope you know
That I appreciate the love that wound itself through
All the memories, good and bad,
And brought us to the place we are today.
While conversations surrounding my writings to her were not gushy and affectionate, they were understood between two hearts that loved well, as best we knew how, and two hearts that learned to give and receive grace and forgiveness for all of our imperfections.
I’m thankful for friends who remind me how blessed I am to have had such a loving Mama for so long, (when she lost her Mom at 14) and that we were so blessed to have had the time, the desire and the fortitude to share our thoughts on love, grace and forgiveness.
And in those moments when death was inevitable, and slowly and painfully stealing her from us, I am so thankful that our last words to each other were, “I love you.”
I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles the kitty. I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!