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The Wisdom of My Mothers

on May 13, 2012

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“The older I get, the wiser my mother is.”  Never have words rung so true. Now that I have teenagers and have slid past my fortieth birthday I realize that my mom is a genius.  So is my mother-in-law.  They are brilliant. Both women have had such an impact on my life that it only seemed appropriate to talk about it on Mother’s Day.  They are different in many ways but similar in others, not the least of which is this: they are incredible mothers and they’ve both taught me how to be a mother.

I will start with my mom because, well, I’ve known her longer.  This is the woman who raised me.  The one who took care of me when I was sick, comforted me when I was sad,  disciplined me when I needed it and loved me when I was the least lovable. She’s rejoiced with me, cried with me and walked with me through some incredibly difficult times. She’s a prayer warrior. She has callouses on her knees with my name on them.  She’s amazing. She’s always had a knack of knowing just what to say. I will never forget when I first started realizing she was very wise indeed.  It was my first day home with our firstborn child.  Mom was staying with us to help.  I was trying to give our son a bath for the first time.  He was screaming.  Over the din, my mom patted my back and said, “You’re doing fine.  He doesn’t like it, but you aren’t hurting him at all.  There will be lots of times he doesn’t like what you are doing but it’ll be the right thing to do.”   When I called her in a snit five years later because the school suggested that we wait another year to start the same son in school she said to me, “He’s going to spend the rest of his life going to school or working.  It’s such a short time that kids really get to be little.  Give him the extra year and enjoy it.”  I can’t count how many times when I was frustrated or exhausted she’d look at me and say, “They are only little for a short time and then they will grow up and leave.  Enjoy them.”  Now that my kids seem to be on a race pace to leave our home, I see the wisdom in those words.

I met my mother-in-law when I began dating her son.  He was 18 and I was 20.  We were married and expecting our son a year and a half later.  I now have a 20 year old son and I can only imagine how I’d feel about a girl who married him and made him a father at this age. My mother-in-law is incredible. I’m forever grateful she didn’t put a contract out on me. (She could have – she works at the sheriff’s station.) One of the first things she said to me after we got married was, “Never fight about money because you won’t have any more after you are done fighting.” That wisdom has served me well over the years. She accepted me for who I am and I immediately became part of the family.  I’m one of “her’s”.  She is fiercely protective of her’s. She loves her family more than she loves herself and is always doing something to help someone.  For example: my husband stays with his parents when he is away at work four days at a time.  Not every woman would be thrilled having a forty year old kid back in her house, but she seems to be enjoying it.  She cooks for him and bakes his favorite cake: the one his wife doesn’t know how to make.   She has shown me how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start over again.  She’s the one who saw that I was struggling with our oldest son’s decision to go to college six hours away and wisely said, “You have to let them do what they need to do. You have to trust him to go.”  She ought to know!  She has taught me that you can love your son and still be a good mother-in-law to his wife, because she is.

I was hesitant to try to blog about both of my incredible moms in one post because I didn’t want it to look like a comparison.  I don’t compare them because it isn’t a contest.  They are both uniquely wonderful woman who have done more for me than either of them will ever realize.  The things I wrote about them today only scratch the surface of these beautiful ladies. They are both incredible grandmothers who have made my children’s life richer.  They are both jewels in the fabric of their families, though neither one of them know it.  If you ask either one of them they would both tell you they made mistakes raising their kids. They’d tell you they weren’t perfect mothers.  I disagree.  They ARE the perfect mothers for their families because no one knows us or loves us better than they do. Did they make mistakes? We don’t remember.

On the days when I find myself becoming frustrated that my kids aren’t listening and are looking at me like I haven’t a clue,  I take heart.  Some day they too will have children and my IQ will grow in their opinion. Some day something I said will register with them. I just hope that I have been half as wise as their grandmothers.

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