For those who’ve read my blog in the past you may have noticed a central character in my family has been missing. My mom.
I think this is often an all too common aspect of the way that moms are treated in families for a simple reason. Moms are more likely to just be there… It’s not fair, but there you go. Since dads often work more hours or later hours, or in single-income homes all of the hours away from the house, mom is always there. Constant, trusted and in the background. That makes dad time a special event and mom time, just… time.
There’s mother’s day sure… but that’s just a day for guilt-flowers and cards. It pales in comparison to the things Mom does on every other holiday.
It wasn’t until last year that I discovered how much effort went into making the decades of perfect holidays she has. Here’s a quick run-down:
Shopping to get the ingredients before a major holiday usually 1-2 weeks in advance
Wrangling family, presents (when applicable) and cleaning all major problem areas of the house before company arrives, often working to get help from surly offspring.
Getting up at 4:30AM to start the cooking of the meal so that everything can be ready 12 hours later, all while making sure that everyone’s “must have” sides aren’t forgotten. Creamed corn for grandma, Turkey Stuffing for Dad and Luke, Ham Gravy for well… everyone— seriously, this stuff is so good we’ve petitioned for ham to be served at all holiday meals so we don’t miss out—pies, pies pies, and about a metric ton of potatoes to be bogarted by one of her brothers who claimed that 7/8 of a salad bowl filled with potatoes was one serving because he managed to get it on to his plate in one scoop.
Top all of this with the older female relatives lounging in the kitchen from 2PM onward to “help”, but in that way that they have of really just telling you ways to “improve” your process. Then there are the inevitable arguments and “discussions” which have to be navigated with grace that would put the British Royals to shame.
By the time dishes are ready to be washed after the meal and everyone has managed to disappear before a certain oldest child is wrangled to help (probably for the crime of being too slow to escape himself), mom has been constantly working for 14.5 hours.
And here’s the insane part. She did it without letting us know what she’s going through, ever. That’s right. I didn’t this find out from my mom, I found out from another family member… Talk about grit and class!
Another way in which my mom is better than yours (feel free to argue, it’s futile), is her absurd levels of competency at pretty much everything. See, when I was a child, she learned sign language and felt called to be an interpreter. While working she would often interpret for classes in art, plumbing, electrical, woodworking and innumerable other skills. Once direction was given, instead of standing around waiting for class to finish, what would she do? She would work on the techniques she had just been describing (when time and space allowed). This had two effects: 1) it made her better able to serve those for whom she interpreted (sign language is less explicit and more conceptual than English, so added understanding helps here) and 2) she developed those skills.
She’s saved our family THOUSANDS of dollars of repairs and decorations, not to mention the arts in which she “dabbles” could be sold proudly in any local artist’s gallery.
Okay, I know it looks like I went over this before, but really, that was about her making a holiday that was better than any three families have a right to expect without a paid caterer and event coordinator. My mom can cook. This is in a class of itself because for some reason she has developed the ability to ascertain what is in a dish at a restaurant and how to make it after eating it one or two times.
On top of that, she has a repertoire of go to meals that we were truly lucky to grow up eating. Spaghetti with homemade sauce, lasagna (yes, it’s my favorite…), holiday fare (see above), banana bread, Tamales and others too numerous to count. Mom has forgotten more about cooking than I’m likely ever to know.
It’s never easy to go to a parent when you’re having problems, but in the last few years, I’ve come to realize just how good my mom is when a person is in a difficult situations. I don’t know if it’s a general momish thing, or specific to my own mother, but there are few people I know who can so easily help you transition from being comforted to working on a solution.
Support of morals
One thing my mom instilled in my sister and me was a strong sense of morals. Some things and just right and just wrong. While I may not agree with her on all cases and have had to find my own way, she taught me to stick to what I know is right until I know better. Then when I know better, to do better.
The moral grounding I got with my mom and the realization of just what happens when you break the rules (often actual grounding…) has helped me to avoid a lot of trouble others I’ve known got themselves into. The biblical education I’ve received has given me stories and lessons to hold to, not to mention made me well-versed in the backbone of post-roman western thought. I’m really thankful for the spiritual education I’ve received just by being raised by my mom. There are so many primrose paths I could have wandered down, had I not learned the warning signs by being raised with her. (there were some other false positives too, I’m looking at you 1980s D&D scare…, but that’s not germane to the subject of how great my mom is).
Basically, I just want to thank you for being you mom and let you know I love you and I’m really glad I have you as a mom.