Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ode to Maw

"If it's not one thing, it's your mother" - Anita Renfroe

"I don't think I deserve this card" is what my mother had to say about the words that graced the cover of her Mother's Day card yesterday. My overly excited pre-schooler was jumping up and down in the kitchen when Mom came over for a visit last night "We bought you a present, Nana! We bought you a present!". It became apparent to us both that Carli was not going to let this go without bursting either at the seams with anticipation or in tears at the decline to open. I handed my mother the gift. She opened her card, read it and set it down. Next, the box which my daughter all but tore out of her hand trying to open it for her. With some coaching and patience, Carli helped her get the ribbon off. It may have been a little too likely to predict that we had selected for her yet another Pandora charm for her bracelet. It was a pretty spacer with Carli's birthstones all around it. I thought it would add some sparkle and color. She put it on the bracelet immediately. When the charm was fastened and bracelet repositioned she picked up the card again and those words spilled out.

I never expected that and I grappled with how to respond. The card referred to the caring, love and patience of some of my favorite female bible characters. The only thing I could come up with was "you do in your own way" I felt like my response was a little lackluster but when she made her statement my brain started conspiring for the exact marketing spin but I felt short. I haven't stopped thinking about it so without further delay, Mom, here is why you live up to the card.

My mother's heart could not have shown itself better than when my husband died. I had never been in a position to feel so vulnerable and stripped naked of everything mentally, emotionally and spritually as then. I needed so much but I couldn't articulate it. Mothers have an inate ability to read the unspoken in their children. My mom does this flawlessly. Instinctively, she stayed at my house for a week. She didn't ask, she didn't make any grand statements about being there for me, she just did. There was no display on her part. She often sat quietly and played in the spare bedroom with my daughter while I wandered, usually in my pajamas and unshowered, aimlessly about my house. I couldn't care for my daughter in those first days. I wanted to but I was too broken. She didn't ask me to talk, there was no wailing on my behalf. She was the continual presence that I could rely on during those darkest of days. When I returned to work, I was in great need of assistance in caring for my daughter when I had to stay late or was desperate for babysitting for those obscure holidays my day care seemed to always have off and at the worst possible times. My mother would drive over an hour to my house before dawn to make sure she could be there so I could head into the office. It pained me to ask her being so far away but she never gave it a thought. I didn't want to over step my welcome. I am still waiting for her to even give me a hint of that two years later. My mother's credentials for being caring are ones of genuineness and practicality not empty words.

The love of a mother was not something I could have possibly understood until I had my own child. The bond is indescribable and the need to protect is deep. As a single mother, I am often questioning instincts to protect versus my anxiety of over protection. As I have observed my mother, I see that it may be a healthy mix of both. My mom lamented my extra long vacation to Key West within months of my husband's departure. I felt like Humpty Dumpty scrambling to put the pieces back. She wanted to be the glue and I rebuffed her opportunities. We had many heated conversations during my time on my little, exclusive island in the keys. She visited a lot, 3 times in 10 months as a matter of fact, but her frequent visits helped me understand. She was like a mother hen trying to put her chicks under the cover of her wings. She had to see me and be with me to know that I was okay. If I had a bad day, she wanted to be there sitting next to me on the couch hugging me, not expressing thoughts and feelings over a cold phone line. She wanted to gather me and Carli close to her. Moms love to be there pick up the pieces no matter how messy it is. They want to be the first to kiss the boo-boo. My mom wanted to see physically that I was doing okay. I get that. I hate to be separated from Carli. I feel most comfortable when she is right in front of me. My mother's love is one of spending time and being present, not gifts and fluff.

Patience is a virtue. It's also part of the fruit of the Spirit. I have days where I have it and nights where I lament to my Creator that I fell short. My mother's patience is one that you would see is a thread of her life, rather than an observation of how she reacts to long lines at the grocery store. I have led an interesting life. It has been full of moments of great failure, terrible decisions and tremendous times of reinvention and miraculous achievement. My mom has been the one to not dwell on any of the negativity. I'd expect her to bring up some of my worst in moments where I think I deserved it but she never does. My mom is like God. When we confess our sins He is quick to forgive, forget and grant restoration. Mom is just like that. She has never held anything against me. She would rather focus on the things that make her feel good about me. She always writes in birthday cards and such that she is proud of me and she can't believe she gave birth to someone like me and it blows me away every time. I feel so undeserving. It makes my heart buckle with humility to read her sentiments. My mom's patience is one of the long-haul not necessarily the immediate situation. She exemplifies some of my favorite attributes of God.

Mom, you do reflect every word on that card. I just wanted you to know why. Happy Mother's Day. I love you so much and my gratitude transcends anything that I could write. Flawless? No. But you are the perfect mom for me.


  1. You are both amazing women and mothers! We miss you dearly. I love reading your blogs Britt. They always put things into perspective and give me meaning.

  2. hey britt, I read your blog...and I feel compelled to add something. Your mother has stepped up for me & Damon(& she'd be there for Adam too if he ever answered the phone! Ha! Ha!) where her sister, karin, has abandoned us. She quietly decided all on ...her own to call us on regular basis just to check on us to let us know she cared. She asks about our kids, sends them cards & gifts on holidays where their grandmother has chosen to be absent. Your mom does all these things w/out any hesitation...she has really filled the void that our mother has chosen to place in our lives!!!! She is our "Aunt Nana" we love her very much & just wanted to add a thank you & we love you to your sweet "ode to maw"!! Love you too Britt!! love, heather

  3. I can imagine your mom as the kind of mother you describe. She's a great person.