Happy Mother's Day! Recently while sitting on my newly enclosed front porch, I wrote the following as an assignment for a writing group to which I belong. Remembering my Mama is always bittersweet but I especially miss her when all the world is celebrating, for she loved a great party.
Until I went to school at four, I thought my name was “Hurry Heather.” But no one called me that when at pre-school, it was just the rather abrupt, truncated “Heather..” Apparently I took my mother’s constant urging to heart because I was a speedy child who was in a hurry to go out to play, in a hurry to learn, in a hurry to grow up, in a hurry to excel.
It was, when I was young, and continues to be, years after her death, almost impossible to ignore my mother’s voice. It was energetic, excited, emphatic, encouraging, exacting, exasperated but hardly ever empathetic. I know that she was tender-hearted by her actions. She carefully prepared meals for her sick friends and even those she didn’t like among her acquaintances, She took in my and my sister and brother's found strays, both animals and people. She was always the first one to offer assistance in a crisis, but I never heard her say, “I know just how you feel.” She was impatient with the whole field of psychiatry, which as a high school student, I found fascinating. She told me again and again, people who think about all the bad things will be sad, but you can decide to be happy! She always saw the glass half full.
In getting ready to write about her voice, which I still hear, I re-read Mama’s journals. They were lists of her tasks, the places she visited, the things her friends had said, what had happened in the world, with absolutely no commentary. So I have come to the conclusion that Mama was not introspective, or if she was, she was never comfortable sharing those thoughts.
Mama was opinionated. She has strong views on religion, politics, the proper way to run a house, how children should behave, her role as a wife and daughter-in-law, her duty as a Christian, and the best way to fight off illness (usually based on completely erroneous beliefs about how the body actually worked). To this day, I cannot abide the thought of liver and onions, which she dutifully served once a week years after I was a healthy robust, pink cheeked child, because as she said, “You were anemic as a baby.” END OF DISCUSSION. To her the fact that I was healthy was due to all that disgusting liver.
But her strongest opinion was that all her children should and would go to college. She always regretted that she had to turn down a scholarship to college because her Dad had died and her Mama needed her to help support her younger brothers. There was never any possibility that her children would not get the opportunity to learn. All I wanted was to be an artist, but as Mama said, “ College will make you a better artist, and it never hurts to learn to type, so you can write your papers!” She paid for private typing lessons while my grandmother paid for my art classes in high school.
Of course Mama was right. I used the typing to earn money to help pay for school after my own Daddy died my first year in college. And I did love school! And, of course, in this digital age, typing or rather "keyboarding" is an essential skill.
Naturally, there were many things Mama said, that I did not want to listen to, things like:
“Pretty is as pretty does.” Usually delivered when I was hysterical that I did not have a new outfit to start the school year, or had a pimple the day I had to give a talk.
“It is as easy to love a rich man as a poor man.” When I clearly was enamored of a flashy boy of few prospects.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” When I wanted fudge.
“It is better to buy one really well made item, than two trashy ones.” When I wanted to purchase some very trendy item with my baby-sitting money.
“Keep you hair out of your eyes, or someone might think you are an idiot.” No possible clue why she thought this, but clearly she did not approve of the sixties’ hairstyles.
“It is easier to make your bed the minute you get up.” Never mind that you drank three glasses of water in the night. No dashing to the bathroom first.
|Free printable courtesy of https://seelindsay.co/mothers-day-printables/|
But mostly Mama was right about all the things she wanted for us and the voice I hear most clearly is, “You can do anything you really care about, Heather. Just decide to do it!
And because I am introspective, I wonder about how my daughters hear my voice?
Will they stop up their ears and try to ignore that voice? Or will they, like me, remember Mama with mixed feelings, awe at what I was able to do, and compassion for the things I was not so good at doing? Will they tell stories about my strongly held misconceptions and a laugh with joy at happy memories? Will they wish I had been a different kind of mother? Will they learn from my sharp words to be careful with their children? Will they remember my sitting up until they are home from some late night activity as they sit up waiting for their own teens?
And now, as I glance at the clock, I hear “hurry Heather” as the day and my Mama call me with things to do and places to see.
Hope your Mother's Day brings back memories of your own Mama or of the Mother's Days you celebrated with your children.