In Honor of Mother’s Day…
I am posting an article I wrote for She for the May 2006 issue. It’s my tribute to my mom…
Made to Mother
To borrow a line from a classic sitcom of a bygone era, “She’s DY-NO-MITE!” To be more specific, SHE is Becky Lane, my mother: wise, intelligent, creative, beautiful, cautious, and practical. She is a lot of things to a lot of people, but she was created to be a mother. That fact becomes more evident to me as I look back over the many miles we’ve traveled together.
Because my parents divorced when I was four, I had the unique opportunity to live alone with my mom in a small rented house for four years. Though we had very little money and sometimes she had to work late at night, I fondly remember this time when I could snuggle up close to my momma each night, listen to Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited” over and over on our mammoth stereo, and appreciate the fact that happiness was not dependent upon finances (a truth that serves me well today).
We moved to Marion when she remarried, and at the ripe age of eight, I thought I had my mom right where I wanted her. The first time that I didn’t get my way after our move, I announced to her that I wanted to go live with my dad. Her face immediately registered the hurt, but she calmly offered to help me pack. In her wisdom, she called my bluff in an instant as I quickly began to wail and protest that I didn’t want to go. She firmly informed me that I would go if ever I threatened her like that again. I did not.
In addition to being wise, momma was always honest with me. Based on our early discussion of the birds and the bees, I took it upon myself to educate my girlfriends at day care about the origin of babies. One older friend assured me that her mother was a nurse, and she knew for a fact that women did not have eggs – only chickens have eggs.
Our life together took me through another adjustment period when mom gave birth to my sister when I was ten. I recall visiting the guidance counselor at Marion Elementary to lament the loss of my mother to my screaming baby sibling. I remember the counselor encouraging me to ask momma if we could bake brownies or go for a bike ride without the company of the new addition.
Though I was no longer an only child, she still lavished me with love. She lay in bed with me, holding me tightly, as I sobbed myself to sleep after the love of my life (at the age of twelve) danced all night with another girl at the seventh/eighth grade Spring Dance.
When I was a sullen, pouty, self-absorbed adolescent, she refused to allow me to sulk through the holidays. Once my mom sentenced me to stand in the corner (as a teenager, mind you!) and sing Christmas carols loud enough that she could hear them from anywhere in the house.
Though she was creative with her punishment, she was also aware of the temptations of a teen. She understood the concept of “cut days” in high school, but she also insisted on knowing where I was at all times and what I was doing. Therefore, she allowed me to take a couple of “cut days” each year, but she knew when they were and where I would be.
However, she did make mistakes as a mother. She made the mistake of allowing me to shop with her credit card – ONCE. I was instructed to buy school clothes, practical clothes that would suit many occasions. I spent all that she had given me permission to spend on one outfit to wear to a dance club, an outfit that I couldn’t wear anywhere but a dance club. That was the end of my independent shopping.
As I sought greater freedom, I loved to spend the night with my two best friends because their mothers were more lenient than mine. One night, my cohorts and I stayed out very, very late – assuming that my friend’s mom wouldn’t notice or care. Unbeknownst to all of us, my friend’s mom called the other moms because we weren’t home. My mom driving around the streets of Marion in the wee hours of the morning looking for me was not a good thing! The fact that we weren’t doing anything wrong did not help our case at all; I was grounded for weeks and weeks. However, when my mom found out that I was the only one who was being punished, she commuted my sentence – not because she was okay with what we had done but because she didn’t think it fair that I bear the punishment alone.
When I left home for college, I really struggled to learn to make decisions for myself. I was so dependent on my mom to tell me what to do. In fact, during my first week at Clemson I got locked in the campus library (nerd!). When I realized that I was alone and could not get out, I didn’t call my roommate. I didn’t call my friends on campus. I didn’t call the police. I called my momma, who was four hours away, to tell me what to do.
When I came home for Christmas, she knew that getting a job as a cashier at Rose’s department store was as valuable an experience as my college education, and it was!
Late one summer night when I was home from school, my mom was summoned by my friends to pick me up. I had made some poor choices that evening and was in no condition to see my mom. She stopped and bought me a Pepsi and cooked eggs for me when we arrived home. She showered me and held me in bed until I fell asleep. To my surprise, she did not punish me. She realized that no punishment she could issue would be as bad as how I was punishing myself the next day. She loved me without condemnation or judgment, and it was through this instance in my life that my mom taught me about how He loves us and forgives us without condemnation or judgment when we are truly sorry for the ways we disappoint Him.
And perhaps a greater testament of her love for me is the fact that she spent the night in a bare, rustic cabin in the mountains of Northeast Georgia the summer I was a camp counselor there. That certainly ain’t her thang!
I am certain that I hurt her feelings as I broke free of the cocoon that afforded me the security and safety to grow and change. I know that I was inconsiderate at times as I stretched my new butterfly wings to define myself. For many years, my momma was the god of my life, not because she assumed that role but because I assigned it to her – desperately wanting her to make decisions for me, needing her absolute approval. As a young lady, a wife, and a mother I am now able to free her from such an impossible task and cherish her as the treasure and blessing God intended her to be. Still appreciating her advice and approval but now understanding that He is my God, and she is my gift.