Monday, September 22, 2014

She Could Have Said "No"

I think I had a pretty ideal childhood.
Oh, sure, things weren't always perfect--
money was often tight,
my dad worked long hours,
my siblings and I bickered endlessly,
and we had more chores than ANYONE else I knew,
but I reflect on those defining years with feelings of great fondness.

And as I've had children of my own, I've come to learn that much of the reason those years were so great is because my mom chose to say "yes."

Like, for example, the time our garden/orchard backyard became a huge mass of mud following a heavy rainstorm. My sister and I excitedly made plans to have a mud fight and ran to ask permission. We could hardly believe our good fortune when my mom agreed. We quickly changed into old clothes, slid into our tattered tennis shoes, and ran out the door to fling mud all over one another, even smearing it into our hair. I still remember this as one of the best moments of my childhood.

As an organized mother of seven children,
there were many times she could easily have said "no."
Whatever brilliant scheme we had devised generally involved a big mess in the middle of the house,
a lot of work and patience on her part,
and plenty of wasted materials.

But she, in her wisdom, knew that it was worth the mess, the inconvenience, the exhaustion, the supplies,
to give us the opportunity to explore the world around us,
to exercise our creativity,
and to feel some sense of freedom in our childhood sphere.

She knew that motherhood wasn't meant to be perfectly tidy,
that the messes and inconveniences were productive,
and that her efforts were producing fruit, however slow-ripening it may have been
(see endless bickering mentioned above).

How thankful I am to my mother
for braving long, grumpy car rides, armed with plenty of licorice and a good attitude
to take us on adventures when we whined and complained the whole way.

I'm grateful for the times she sang when she really felt like crying.

I'm grateful she experienced many years of my awkward hairstyles because I wanted to be independent, even though she had been a professional hair stylist.

I'm thankful she endured the countless science fair projects, sporting events, music lessons, and assemblies that come with raising seven children, and made us feel like she was privileged to be there, instead of burdened.

I'm grateful she let us "help" from day one, when we were really causing more problems.

I'm thankful for the listening, responsive ear she gave (and still gives) even though we kept that ear busy all day long. Sometimes she really probably wanted to be left alone.

I'm thankful for the sticky fingers, the muddy footprints, the little bits of paper, the inedible kitchen concoctions, the stained clothing, and the broken household items she allowed in the name of giving us wings to fly.

In short, I'm thankful my mother said "yes."

And now, when my four-year-old wants so badly to use a whole roll of tape making paper crowns and toy swords, or my two-year-old wants to dig holes halfway to China, or all three of my little boys are "helping" me unpack boxes and I am tempted to call it quits and just say "no," I think of my mother.

And then, I think again.

Thanks, Mom.


  1. I've never noticed how awkward my arm is in that first picture...

    1. Ohhhh man, I just laughed really hard. Barbie hand!!!

  2. Your mother truly is amazing. I have often tried to pattern my mothering skills after her. She is an excellent example for us all.


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