Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Wind so strong trees shout,
bending to the force of air
from an unknown source.
Today is the first Mother’s Day without my mom. I’ve never been a big gift giver. For a lot of years I didn’t have money to buy gifts, nor the creativity to make something. Now it’s become an odd conviction with me that giving stuff to give stuff is creating a false sense of abundance through a glut of unvaluable stuff. I do, however, reserve the right to give stuff when I wish and love gratefully receiving stuff when people give it to me with the obvious love they felt when they chose or made the gift.
I’d gotten into the habit of giving and sharing with my mother one of our most valuable commodities: time. I didn’t give her nearly enough of mine. She freely gave me what I wanted of hers.
When the son asks what I want I assure him I do not want him to spend his money on me. He doesn’t earn much yet. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I would enjoy it if he had it and wanted to. A couple years ago he wanted to take me to a movie on Mother’s Day with some of his new earnings and, of course, I said yes. I was proud he wanted to spend his precious money on me and spend time with me. I didn’t know what movie I wanted to watch so he suggested we see Thor, one of the Marvel comic series, and surprised me at how much I enjoyed his choice of movie as well as the time spent together. I always tell him give me your time, sit and talk with me, or do some of the things around the house I can no longer do without help. The movie was time well spent together.
I’m sure Mom loved the silly little handmade cards I made for her year after year, and the beautiful heart-felt beribboned and lacy cards full of flowery poetry from her other daughter and sons, and the going out to meals with them. Mothers, indeed any person, should enjoy that kind of attention from friends, offspring, or family.
I didn’t always remember to get a card in the mail on time every year.
I didn’t always get to go visit her for an hour or two and share a meal.
I did pick up the phone and call her. We did not have that close relationship of calling every week, but every so often I needed to hear her voice. We had a rocky ride through the years, she having taught me to think for myself, and me doing so. We talked and visited irregularly, enough to share and learn and love each other, but not enough to get on each other’s nerves, well, much. She loved me and wanted better for my life, had lots of information she thought I could use, and was disappointed I didn’t always choose to use her way, that I often chose the road not taken. She didn’t always realize for me the road not taken wasn’t always my choice, but the results of best laid plans being affected by things entirely out of my control. I loved her and wanted better things for my life, and her life, and listened to her information and shared my own, and went about life my own way after digesting her suggestions. We learned how to honor each other as individuals and to agree to disagree on certain subjects.
My own mothering I’ve often thought was about half as good as hers. A friend keeps reminding me I am hard on myself, as most women are, as the challenges women face in mothering today are different from past generations. My full time job kept me from reproducing my childhood experiences for my son: I was not at home to greet him after school, often the hubster got him off to school, I couldn’t assist with his homework, and the classroom volunteering I did every week of copying and stapling was more an effort to monitor the teachers and see why he kept failing to meet their expectations than being one of the fun moms who did fun jobs like passing out treats on party days. I volunteered as much as I could with Boy Scouts but I am not the best camper, and the son, having been taught to think for himself, sometimes annoyed other scouts and scout leaders. Big surprise there.
I see successes and failures in my mothering; the son, like his mother, chooses the road not taken or has had it foisted upon him. He achieved Eagle in Boy Scouting, the highest rank for young men. Several members of our troop felt he didn’t deserve to earn this rank, but he lives by Scout Laws to this day and will carry those excellent values with him throughout his life even if he does not conform to the average image of a Boy Scout or Scout Leader. We may be created equal but we are all different.
Though I would have loved to see him walk in regalia with the classmates he’d been with since first grade and receive his high school diploma, he chose to obtain his GED within 30 days after our school district abandoned him (that’s another essay). Three of his five test scores were honors scores.
The son works at a place I would never choose for him or myself, but he got the job on his own. He does a good job there, he is always on time and stays late if needed or asked; he’s the “old man” now and often trains the newbies. He’s been stable in the same job for almost three years. He’s starting to ask about looking for other work and maybe taking a class at the community college. He’s growing and maturing at his own rate, and I think that’s just fine. There’s no requirement that says every family and person has to conform to one lifestyle or pathway in life. I believe in multi-generational families sharing households and I’m in no hurry to have him leave. And what a miserably boring world it would be if we were all the same.
The best lesson for me has been knowing the son is his own person. He has his own opinions. When he asks for mine or I give it unsolicited he listens, digests, makes up his own mind, and goes about life in his own way, learning from his own mistakes. One of the things I learned was letting him pack his own pack for scouting events. He quickly learned what he needed and where he wanted it packed for easy accessibility and what to remember for the next time. He owned the experience. One caveat: once he learned he could own his own experiences, he wanted to do everything his own way, and found it difficult to accept the experiences of others as indicators of the easiest/best way. So it’s a fine line, or a double edged sword, or a Gordian knot, or some other cliché about how interesting parenting is and how individual individuality is.
My mom often complained it felt as if I were only half listening or just blowing off what she said. One day I was finally able to find the right words and tell her I was processing, the glazed look in my eyes or rigid body posture was the taking of her words into my memory archives and already applying them to how they would/could/should fit into my life. In other words I was already mentally working on her suggestions, not defiant or rejecting. Sometimes I could apply her ideas and information and suggestions and sometimes not, and I assured her not to be offended if not, because sometimes her suggestions just didn’t work for me no matter how I twisted the application to fit. Knowing this is how Mom and I worked, makes it easier for me to honor the son’s choices and way of life.
So, back to this year. It would be silly or weird or sick to send a card. My brother owns her house and if I sent it there it would creep him out. Sending a card to the cemetery would be equally as loony. How would I address it? Mom, XYZ Cemetery, Cremation Spot # 13, Portland, Oregon, 97216? Not a winning idea, in fact, I think we’re crawling into the truly morbid now, though I looked at the website of her cemetery to find the name of the little cremation garden she’s in and they suggest buying cards and flowers and other things to handle the grief. I wouldn’t spend money unless I were going over there, and because Sunday is my only day off this week I won’t be spending two hours in the car to go view the place her ashes rest. She would rather I take care of myself.
What I will miss is the telephone call, hearing her voice, yakking together for hours until our ears ached from the pressure of the earpiece and our voices grow scratchy from talking so long, until we have exhausted every bit of everything we needed and wanted to catch up on. Hearing her voice. Telling stories of the past and sharing new information we had learned. Philosophizing on how to fix our communities, and our national and global politics while still honoring individuality. Hearing her voice. Brainstorming ideas together. Gossiping about the tidbits of family news we might have eked out. Hearing her voice.
The voice I knew before I knew her skin. The voice of the woman who called my baby name. The voice of the woman who used my full name, middle included, when I was in real trouble. The voice of the woman who began my name with “oh…” in the tone I knew she was really disappointed in me; this is the voice I still hear in my head. The critical voice I hear come out of my own mouth sometimes when talking to the son. The voice of the woman who encouraged me and changed my baby name into an adult cheer and a loving verbal caress. The voice that was always there. I just want to hear it. Not inside my own head or out of my mouth. From her, just one more time.
And now for our listening pleasure in honor of Mother’s Day, yes, it’s a non-traditional choice of music, click here to listen to my favorite song from my most loved Beatles album Rubber Soul, a Lennon-McCartney tune, In My Life.
In my life, I love you, Mom.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – I see so many beautiful plants this week. I love the vines of wild purple vetch growing beside the roads of our rural community, the vast fields of crimson clover surrounding the local cemetery, and the bright yellow flamed bushes of scotch broom next to the creek that divides us from the next community. The neighbors have so many beautiful flowers growing, but today I share a study of my rhododendron. I don’t know the name of its color, and it’s the only flowering bush I have that came with the house. I like it, the abundance of its flowers, the variety of colors deep within its throat, the delicacy of the stamen and antlers, the way the bloom traps the light. Sometimes the color reminds me of pale bubble gum. And then there’s this bugger who kept buzzing me while I was photographing as he sampled every flower.
Currently Reading – Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry About What We Eat (2012, nutrition) by Harvey Levenstein; Me Before You (2012, fiction) by Jojo Moyes; Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution (2012, cannabis economics and politics) by Doug Fine. Yes, concurrently. Check out my From Me 2 U Book Review page.
This week I have been grateful for:
The many things I have because of my mother:
- Life. Breath. A heartbeat. Blood flow. Straight teeth.
- A life-long love of reading and learning.
- Curiosity and intellect.
- A love for babies.
- Critical thinking and a tenacious thirst for the truth.
- A critical tone of voice (this one isn’t my favorite, but it has its place).
- A love of gardens and textiles, though I’ll never be the gardener she was, I admire the work of others, and though I can’t sew a straight stitch to save my life I still love materials, and crocheted doilies, and embroidered pillowcases and aprons, and hand quilted bed quilts.
- A love of old things, and the stories behind antiques and collectibles.
- How to calculate a bargain. And how to know the value of spending more vs less money and when one or the other is the best choice.
- A love of creativity, through encouraging and providing materials for my childish efforts at fashion paper dolls and cardboard dollhouses and miniature gift-wrapping-paper upholstered cardboard furniture until it morphed into an obsession with words.
- The grace of letting me hug and pet her knowing she didn’t care for it much but even as an adult I needed the snuggle and she granted it.
- My formal education: supporting me, at the age of 17 through beauty school for my first career right out of high school, and helping me, at middle age, earn two Associate’s degrees, a Bachelor’s degree, and a scholar of the year award from the State of Oregon.
- Savings accounts and retirement accounts. It doesn’t matter they are very small, and will cover practically nothing when I retire. I still have them.
- My home with a roof that doesn’t leak for which she provided the down payment. And choked down her resentment when I didn’t manage my finances well enough to pay her back. I’m grateful I’ve managed to keep my home.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch