Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just Like a Mom

What constitutes a mother? I've learned in my lifetime that she is certainly more than a woman who gives birth. A mother, a good mother, is one who gives and forgets about the receiving. She is one who steps up when needed, heedless of her own needs. A mother is a woman who finds contentment in just watching her children, even when they sleep. Sitting with them over a cup of coffee just glad to be there with them. A mother thinks first of the love she has for her child and secondly of the finger paint on the wall. When once she sighed at the sight of a room strewn with clothing, she later wishes for that teenager to be in that room once more. She doesn't forget the little thing, those that matter. And forever she holds in her heart her baby's tiny fingers and toes.

A mother, however, doesn't need to be one who gives birth. She doesn't need to be the one who even lives in the house with the child. The heart of a mother resides for the child often in the heart of a friend, an aunt, a cousin, a grandmother. What sometimes we did not receive from own flesh and blood we found plentiful in the love of another. A mother who holds a child for the first time, that child she did not carry, finds a new love given to her. There need not be an umbilical cord that says she is the mother. She loves the child the same as if she gave birth to the beautiful babe in her arms.

I was blessed with many mothers in my life. My mother and I didn't always see eye to eye. She was a busy woman living on the farm. Often I was left alone. Sometimes I was scared. Many times for her I was a struggle. Communication between mother and daughter often is strained and damaged. But then one day we are without a mother. One day we are older and understand what we could not then. I find in looking back that the gaps my mother and I experienced in our relationship were filled by other loving women in my life.

Aunt Welma and I baked cookies together. She allowed me to be her hair stylist and taught me to play cards. While my mother was in the field, she was filling in a gap. Her daughter-in-law, my cousin Betty, was my friend, especially when a teenager needed a woman's advice. My neighbors, Doris and Margaret, watched over me daily, especially when I'm sure Mom had no idea where I'd wandered off to. Margaret raised me with her own. Her house was my second home.

When I became a teenager and in love, I met Jennie Miller. This last week we lost Jennie at ninety-four years. I loved her son, and she loved me. I'd never been in a family where everyone laughed so readily and loved doing things together. I learned what it was to camp and hike.  I found a place where I belonged. Jennie held me as her son left for Viet Nam. Their home during that time always welcomed me. When I started my first job, she made my dresses.

I have a dear mother in my life now. One I wish I'd known better my entire life for she is indeed a woman I love and adore. My cousin Alma Lea and I became better acquainted over the last couple of years. Oh, we always knew one another, but she was older, and I played with her children. In the last couple of years, we have formed a bond that means as much to me as any. This beautiful woman has brought  warmth to a sometimes saddened heart, one missing those of her own family. She brings to me all the things that are a mom and a friend.

My mom was indeed a wonderful mom. Her life was hard. She gave it to serve others. Sometimes her daughters got lost with all of the others taking their mom away, but she loved us. She is indeed 'like a mom' to so many people on Neff Road and around the world. She gave all that she had for others. As a grown up child, I appreciate what she did and am proud of what she did for those who needed her. I blessed to have had such a wonderful mother.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there. Mothers can indeed change the world. Those 'just like a moms' changed mine and taught me how to be just like a mom.