What I Learned From My Mother (Mother’s Day 2022)

This is going to perhaps be shocking to read, in all honesty, but I hope you will bear with me. One of my favorite memories of my mother is of the few times that she has lost control of her language (forgive me, Marmee). Now these occurrences have been very few and far between indeed (and very well may be all in my imagination, right, Marmee?), but, as I have grown older, I have come to realize something.

Those few moments of true emotion expressed in perhaps less-than-genteel language have given me permission to in fact be imperfect myself, to feel strongly and be free to express it with those with whom I feel safe. The fact that my beloved mother, in the midst of being the superhero of my life, is also blessedly human, so I can be, too.

Women are held to such toxic, harmful standards, even today in 2022 as more feathers are violently ripped from our wings to keep us from flying. Being shown her humanity and taught that my own is not a sin are of immeasurable value. That is what I learned from my Marmee, not the words that she let slip in those emotional moments. I learned how to mess up and apologize, both of which I have done throughout my life. It gave me a way out of the shame of my own perfection, though it has taken the better part of 20 years for that lesson to take.

Thank you, Marmee, for losing your tongue a few times and teaching me how to exist with humanity, honesty, and, yes, even with grace. It has made me a better person, partner, friend, and mother. Thank you! Happy Mother’s Day!


See Me and Delight In Me

For our wedding anniversary this year, the only gift I requested from my husband was a set of coloring books and crayons of my own, separate from those that belong to my toddler daughter. What? I like coloring. Of course, he came through with coloring books of Disney Princesses and My Little Pony (yay!), but I beefed up my coloring book collection the other day with some of the new wildly popular coloring books for adults. The one I worked on last night for my winding-down time was one of floral mosaics. I wanted something simple so I chose a picture of daisies and settled in quite happily with a colored pencil in one hand and an apple in the other. Even as I finished the stems and started working on the flowers’ yellow hearts, I felt this sudden urge to leap up from my chair at the kitchen table and run into the living room crying, “Mom! Mom! Look, look!”

That hit me hard. Even at thirty-two, I still long for my mother to see me and find beauty in me and what I do. I was over the moon when she commented that I had indeed lost a few inches. All those months of work and she noticed! When she compliments my mothering, I am chuffed for days. My mother is my hero and I want her to be proud of her girl. (I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve been singing Aladdin’s “Proud of Your Boy” more often lately.)

Then I realized that is all Elizabeth wants from me, too: to be seen, to be enjoyed, for me to be proud of  my girl. Her new trick is to come up to you with something behind her back.

“Please (close) eyes,” she asks.

You cover your eyes.

“1-2-3. Eeprise (surprise)!” And she shows you what is behind her back.

Your role is to be elated, tell her it’s wonderful, and give her a hug.


My mom and my girl

I have lost count of just how many times we have done this over the past few days. Last night, though, I was very tired and refused to participate a few times (or at best was rather lackluster about it). My mom played along enthusiastically every single time. I am sorry that I didn’t. Elizabeth wants, needs, me to joy in her and in all she is learning to do. I want her to know that I do joy in her and I am proud of her.

One of her favorite movies is “Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch”. At the end of the film, the whole ohana is dancing Lilo’s hula together and she and Stitch hug each other. Then Nani comes over and tells Lilo, “Mom would be so proud of you.” At that point in the film, Elizabeth always runs to me for the hug and I amend the line and tell her, “I am so proud of you.” And I am. I will always be. When she is thirty-two, I want her to want to run to me, show me what she has accomplished or created, and know without a doubt that I will be elated for and with her.

“Mom, Mom! Look!”

“That is wonderful, my love! I am so proud of you!”

Still Good

photo (2)Today, I had the opportunity to teach my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter an important lesson. Today, her Stuffy broke. For those of you not in the know, Stuffy is a blue dragon stuffed animal from the Disney Junior show “Doc McStuffins”. He is known for being a “big, brave dragon”. My daughter has little plastic figurines of six of the main characters of the television show and, today, her figurine of Stuffy broke. He lost a wing. Now, I had attempted to fix Stuffy’s wing earlier in the day but my fix-it job didn’t take and the injured wing is now nowhere to be found. Elizabeth was absolutely distraught upon the discovery during an afternoon walk; she burst into tears and sobbed the entire way home. When we arrived back at our house, she refused to allow me to comfort her so, instead, what I did was take all of the figurines out of her little dolly stroller and set them up on the floor. Stuffy was in the middle with his friends all surrounding him. Then I said this to Elizabeth:

“Stuffy’s wing is broken, and I know that you are upset. But Stuffy is still a good toy. He is still lots of fun. He is still a big, brave dragon. He can still ROAR! And, most of all, his friends still love him. Stuffy is still Stuffy, even though his wing is broken. He is still a pretty great toy.”

I know that she is two and a half and that what I said has not sunk in all the way, but I tried to make my point by having all the toys close in around Stuffy and give him “cuddles”. Elizabeth seemed to calm and to be paying attention so I repeated:

“His friends still love him and he is still Stuffy, no matter what he looks like.”

Our outward appearance is not an indication of our inward hearts or the strength of our spirits, nor does it indicate a rating on our humanity. That is a lesson I want my daughter to learn that will be deep and abiding throughout her life. No matter the color of our skin, our abilities or disabilities, or our bodies or conditions, we are all still human beings. We are still pretty great; it doesn’t make us any less.

Just like Stuffy is still a good toy even with a broken wing, we can still be good (even great) people with all the differences and eccentricities inherent with being human. Yeah, still good (great, even).

Fascinating Facets

I sit with my daughter in my lap as she indulges in some Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. As she sits quietly (a rare occurrence in and of itself), I take advantage of the opportunity to wrap her lovely pigtail curl around my finger and find myself once again mesmerized as I twirl it again and again and again.

Her hair is soft and glossy and smooth, as soothing as silk as I coil it around my finger. As I do and the curl tightens, I find myself marveling at it. It almost looks like an ombre candy cane, composed of shades of brown sugar and sable, though it is also shot through with bright copper and even honeyed blonde in some spots.

Her hair is smooth like her father’s but also curly like mine naturally is. She gets the shades of brown with red highlights from us both, but the shot of blonde is her father’s, as are her long eyelashes. We deal with the snaggles and tangles and she hates every minute of me combing them out of her hair. When her hair is loose, it is curly and fun and wild; when it is combed into pigtails or a ponytail, it is cute and coquettish. Either way and both, she is brilliantly lovely and I am constantly fascinated by the work of art that is my daughter’s hair. It is beautiful and unique and perfectly suited to her sunshiny, smiling face.

I dream of what that hair will be like some day, falling over her shoulders in abundant, glossy curls that bounce, the most superlative physical complement to my girl’s own buoyant spirit.

The Light Around the Door 2014

2015 is two days away and I find myself sitting in contemplation of the year gone by. There has been a lot of happening this year, so bear with me as I suss at least some of it out.

Firstly, a huge thank you to you, my readers, for sticking with me over this year and lending me your time, hearts, and minds in your reading of these paper bullets of my brain. I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have writing it, however scary it was at times.

One of the most notable occurrences is that I have become a contributor to The Well Written Woman, which has been an absolutely wonderful experience! I have had a fabulous time working with the talented ladies at TWWW. They have allowed me a great freedom in exploring subjects in my writing – fiction pieces, personal writings, works on faith and social matters – and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know co-founder and editor Camicia Bennett. Thanks so much, Cam!

I took college courses for the first time since graduating with my Masters in 2006 and entirely online. I was very nervous about how I would handle it and being a mom at the same time. It was hard work, completing two graduate courses simultaneously in five weeks, very stressful and tiring. But I had amazing help from my in-laws, my parents, and my husband; I found ways to enjoy it; and I succeeded, earning A’s in both classes. A personal triumph and big weight off my back as those grades allowed me to renew my teaching license for the next ten years, should I choose to return to education when Elizabeth heads off to daycare/preschool eventually.

Speaking of Elizabeth, my daughter turned two years old eleven days ago and she is an absolute force of nature. Even my mother had to admit that when she was here to visit. As such, I sometimes do not know what to do with her, but we are doing our best. Our Bizzy is smart and bright, talking more every day. But she is also clever and cunning, though thankfully I am still more so just yet. She is artistic, skilled with anything technological (similar to her mother), creative, fun-loving, energetic, and loves the outdoors. She is also sweet and loving, giving affection to those in her life, tight little hugs and sweet kisses. She loves her Marie (The Aristocats) and Katarina Kittycat (“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”) stuffies – they go to bed with her every night – and she is never as happy as she is watching “Daniel Tiger” (unless she is outside exploring). She loves to be read to but will also insist on “reading” to herself. She has started to take her own ‘me time’, climbing into her rocking chair in her room to rock by herself for a little bit with a book, her tablet, or just her stuffed buddies. She may still be little but she has gone from a baby to a little girl in the space of a year, and I am constantly amazed by her.

As I have been writing and also continuing in my position as the wife of a Quaker pastor, I have had the opportunity to sit and think seriously on what I believe and how it affects my life, or how it should affect my life. I am well aware that there are some, or many, who disagree with my faith or even what I believe in particular within that faith. And that is OK; my faith makes sense to me. Lately, I find myself drawn more and closer to its core tenet of “loving others” (Matthew 22:37-40) and “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). I want to do that: love others in whatever way is needed, whether it is a listening ear, a requested explanation of what I believe, a note to say hello, a little gift, prayer, or just my time. And maybe I can help someone find/experience a little bit of peace, even for a short amount of time. I have learned some wonderful lessons from a writer whom I discovered this year: Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa is a wonderful woman who manages to speak to my heart without ever knowing who I am. Her devotionals, books, and faith-based writings have spoken to my soul as I have worked through several issues in my life this year, and I have taken several of her teachings to heart as I work to build myself an even stronger foundation and keep my emotions from becoming “unglued”. One that has been the closest to my heart this year is a reminder that our feelings are indicators but they do not need to be dictators of our behavior or actions. I can choose to act out of high emotion or I can choose to act and speak out of love, grace, and gentleness. The latter is most definitely what I want in my life, and I have some wonderful examples of these to follow in this.

Always, but especially this past year, I have been astounded by the loving natures and kind hearts of the people in my life. My family and friends are simply amazing! My life is constantly blessed by them and their generous souls. There are days when a card in my mailbox, a text popping up on my phone, an IM chiming on my computer, or even a surprise package waiting for me has been just what I needed, just the uplift and tender touch that my heart and soul required on that day, the thought or those words just what I needed to give me the strength to take another step forward. Even those words were simply, “Hi. I was thinking about you.” So, to them I say, “Thank you!” from the fullness of my heart. You are more than I could have ever dreamt for. You hold lines to my heart and I am so grateful for how gently, honestly, and lovingly you handle them.

As this year’s curtain descends, there are indeed many things that I wish I had done and ever the more that I wish I could do. This year has been full and I am thankful for all I have been able to do, accomplish, and witness this year. I know that this next year will be full of its own miracles and hardships, triumphs and challenges. I look forward to it and am nervous for it, too. But, again, that is life and it continues on apace.