“How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No. A woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.” G.K. Chesterton
This is…profoundly true.
And the root word of laborious? Labor. Or better, Labor of Love. I don’t know what it’s like to be a mother, but I do know what it’s like to have a great one. I’m trying to steer clear of Sugarland and bypass the overly maudlin tribute here, so I offer a bulleted list of what I love about her, basically but truthfully titled: Monica Is My Mom, And I’m Really Glad She Is.
– I’ll start with her sense of humor. When she thinks something’s funny, everyone knows it. Every once in a while, a little kid in her toddler Sunday School class or one of her students in her high school science classes will say something that cracks her up. And she throws back her head and laughs, and doesn’t stop for a while. Then, she’ll start banging the table or podium. Sometimes, she starts crying a little. Initially, the kids are scared because they don’t know what’s going on. But then, they realize she’s laughing, and they’ll start laughing too, mostly at her, not whatever it was she found so funny. Then everyone gets used to it, and it’s always a good time for everyone when she laughs.
– She has little rituals, like her first cup of coffee every morning. She picks it up eagerly, takes three deep sips, and then says, “Aaaaahhhhh. That’s good.” I kid you not. Every. Morning. My brother can imitate her well. When she is excited or happy, she does this little dance with her hands, and sometimes she talks to herself. If she has to drive during a rainstorm, she leans forward in the driver’s seat with her hands firmly on the wheel at 10 and 2, and no one is allowed to talk. When she’d wake me up in the morning, she’d sit on the edge of the bed and stroke my hair. She’d make spaghetti sauce every Saturday morning, and when I had a big project or test in high school, I’d find a little note in my lunch box. When I coughed as a kid, she’d say “Coco!” or if I hit my head on something, she’d say, “Oh, did you break the table (or whatever it was I hit my head on)?” which would make me laugh and feel better. When she sent me notes in college, she’d kiss the envelope, and every Sunday afternoon, I could expect a call from her. Good times, those phone calls.
– She is really well-rounded. She hunted as a kid and fixed up cars. She used to be able to bench press her own weight. Once, she fixed the lawnmower. She’s a physics, chemistry and biology teacher. She’s an avid reader and passed the book love down to us. She watches home decorating shows and documentaries on the Romanovs. She can cook, is a registered nurse and can sew beautifully. My initial exposure to Hitchcock, Broadway, Austen, ballet, opera and Egyptian history, I owe to her. She took us places like aquariums and art museums and New York City. She encouraged us to read the displays in museums instead of just running through (ahem Dad). And really, she led by example, because everywhere we went, she herself wouldn’t ever pass up the opportunity to learn something new.
– She expected my best. Her and my father. They pushed me to do better when my definition of “best” was in reality, “just enough to get by.” They also ALWAYS sided with the teacher when I got in trouble, and rightly so, even though I didn’t think so at the time. Now, I can’t tell you how thankful I am that they pushed me to do better. In fact, my mother was the one that encouraged me to pursue a writing major in college. I didn’t even realize one could study the craft and science of writing, but she did, and I’m glad she recommended it to me.
– She is kind and wants to help. She has these worn-down, faded prayer cards–one for each day. She prays for people. My name’s on those cards, and I can’t tell you how much that means to me. As a kid, she was always driving around here and there, visiting people, bringing meals, helping where she could, and naturally since we were young, we’d go with her. The funny thing is she always said she wished she could do more.
– She is intuitive. Life isn’t a carnival, and sometimes I’m down in the dumps. And my mom knows, even a thousand miles away. More often than I can remember, I’d find an email from her in my inbox telling me to keep my chin up. And I had just been boo-hooing to myself at my desk or in my dorm. Then I’d say, “Mom! I was just totally worrying about such-and-such! How’d you know?” And then she’d say, “Because I’m your mother.” I love when she says that.Now, my mother is my friend. The vertical relationship of mother and daughter remains, but now that I’m older, we’ve struck this horizontal balance of a great friendship. To me, what’s communicated in the above photo hasn’t changed much (although instead of holding me, my mother hugs me). She loves with all she has and is, and I’m the grateful recipient. Mom, I love you so much, and I hope to be like you someday.