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Suburban Island

The Positive Mom
Wednesday, Feb. 09, 2005, 2:41 p.m.

QUESTION: Where are the candles?

WHAT I LEARNED: Have mother, will travel.

The first half of the 1930's provided us with many wonderful deeds, discoveries, and delightful things. These are the years in which we:

  • Discovered the dark and mysterious Pluto and split the atom;
  • First availed ourselves of the modern conveniences of sliced bread and the ultra-cool Zippo lighter;
  • Saw the completion of the Empire State Building and the introduction of the classic board game Monopoly;
  • First spotted Nessie;
  • Got an official US National Anthem, a New Deal, and Social Security;
  • Delighted in the invention of air-conditioning and the creation of a mainstay of American cuisine – the cheeseburger;
  • Saw Al Capone put in the slammer for tax evasion and Amelia Earhardt fly solo across the Atlantic;
  • Said goodbye to Prohibition and hello to Alcoholics Anonymous.

The 30's was also when my mom came into the world. My mom was born today, February 9th, 1931 and today is her 74th birthday.

Like most moms, she has had as much impact on the world as some of the landmark discoveries and occurrences above. Everyday of my childhood and throughout my adult years she has encouraged, supported, protected, enchanted, and created a world that was just a little bit better because of her positive presence in it.

The impact of a positive mom is compelling and yet subtle. My mother has been one of those women – loving, understanding, supportive, uplifting, and caring – who is a positive mom. She has always taken care of her family and her home with determination and energy. She has gotten things done with a gentle hand and a kind heart. Everything she has done in her life has been done lovingly and with style. She has never been stingy in the time, effort, and energy she puts into her home and family and made many personal sacrifices for the good of those around her. As busy as my mother was as a young mother, as a mom with teens in the house, and now as a mom and grandmother, she has always managed to pour forth an endless bounty of help and comfort to all of us everyday.

There are many instances of my mother’s nurturing spirit in action that I could share. A few jump out in my mind immediately.

The first was a second grade crisis. Basically I was a math-loser. My mom didn’t give up on me or leave it to the teachers. She tucked me into bed beside her for a little while every night and we worked on my math together until I caught up. There were cookies and milk afterwards. For a second-grader that was better than bars of gold delivered to the doorstep. The math-crisis was averted. I passed 2nd grade math thanks to my mom's help and her understanding of the importance of cookies in a kid's life.

As I got older and the stresses of kid-life pressed in upon me – a kid who was not “a popular”, as my kids used to refer to the super-popular kids in school – my mom was always there to just talk. When I came home from school each day my mother stopped what she was doing and had tea or hot chocolate and cookies for us. We couldn’t wait to come home and tell her about our day. When I was in high school we would take a pot of tea upstairs and watch the sun set from a window-seat that faced towards the dusk or go down into the garden and just chat. All of this gives me pause. How many times do I rush from one task to the next during my days without setting aside time for uninterrupted debriefings with my kids? When do I make time to just chat? My mother had it right.

When I was all grown up and dealing with breast cancer at 37 with a 2 ˝ and 5 year old as well as a full-time job to juggle, my mother came to stay for a week each time I got chemotherapy – that was eight course of chemo. What would I have done without her help and the 8 weeks of her time that she so generously gave to my family and me? I can’t imagine.

My mother is a woman of her age – a mother and homemaker and wife. She works hard at what she does and she is good at it. My mother is also a woman of the modern age – a poet, an artist who painted in oils and acrylics, a gardener who worked in flowers, trees, and vegetables, a top-notch chef, and a talented interior decorator. I have watched my mother paint, strip furniture, varnish floors, create a Japanese garden, plant enough vegetables to keep our family in salads all summer long, and do difficult furniture finishes while I can barely hang a painting or buy a bunch of tomatoes on the vine. An avid reader, an nature-lover, a yoga enthusiast, and a woman who can turn the radio up and down the dial from classical to country – she is indeed a woman for all seasons and an inspiration to me. She has shown me that the creative spirit has many avenues. She has reminded me in her every action that doing things with grace and a cheerful heart makes a difference in the quality and impact of what we do. She has taught me the virtue of listening, helping, and encouraging.

I wish I could do a better job of remembering all these lessons because they are simple and yet very powerful. If I could integrate them into my life more routinely then I believe that my life, and the lives of those around me, would be the better for it. I think I have a few more things to add – belatedly – to my list of New Year’s resolutions. It is true indeed that a mother’s work is never done.

In December of 2004 my mom had a stroke. She is still dealing with some complications of that stroke but she is sounding much better these days. I am thankful that she is here in 2005 to continue to be a beacon in my life.

image by Suburban Island

Happy 74th Birthday, Mom! And keep up the good work.

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