When I was younger, in my middle school years, I would get so angry at her for being my mother. She didn’t teach me how to shave my legs; I had to learn from my best friend. Mom’s are supposed to teach their daughters how to shave their legs. Mine didn’t. When I first started wearing make-up it wasn’t because she brought me into her room and carefully showed me how to blend soft brown eye shadow into pink on my eyelid. Mom’s are supposed to teach their daughters how to wear make-up. Mine didn’t. I didn’t know girls wore smelly lotions or perfume until I realized my best friend’s mom always had a sweet, pleasant vanilla aroma when I snuggled next to her on the couch to watch movies at sleepovers. She gave me my first bottle of smelly lotion. Mom’s are supposed to teach their daughters how to be a girl. Mine didn’t. In so many ways, as a naïve 13 year old, I saw only the ways my mother had failed me, because she didn’t use tropical smelling shaving cream, she didn’t wear pinks and browns, and she never, ever smelled like vanilla.
Elain Heffner once said, “The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.” Although my mother may not have taught me the art of being a girl on the outside, as I look back not only on my own life, but also on the obstacles she has overcome and the odds she has beaten in hers, I realize she has truly taught me the art of being a woman. When my mother was born, she did not know her father. Both her mother and father were alcoholics and divorced when she was two weeks old. At her father’s funeral, when she was seven, there was no one present except her mother, her older brother and sister, and herself. Although she begged my grandmother to let her gaze into the coffin to see what her father looked like, her mother refused, saying he wasn’t worth her time. He was buried in a pauper’s grave; the kind where they heap the bodies on top of one another in a pit and pile the dirt on top because no one came to claim them as friend or family. No record is kept. No name is inscribed. No life is remembered.
To this day my mother does not know where he is buried. Throughout the course of her childhood my mother had five different step-dad’s, the longest marriage her mother had lasted 9 years, and the shortest lasted two weeks. My mother became a world traveler shortly after her mother married Step Dad #1, living in places such as Turkey and Hawaii. His post in the army was constantly changing, which moved my mother from one different school to another very different school throughout her elementary and middle school years. Growing up in this unstable environment, along with being in the shadow of Susan, her blonde-haired, blue-eyed older sister, my mother developed very low self-esteem which lasted through her high school career. As my grandmother’s alcoholism and loose living increased, my mother began cleaning up after everyone in the house, and lived in fear of what she would find…worse yet, who she would find at home when she returned from school. As a little girl, she never had a friend spend the night at her house.
Later on in high school, she accepted Christ into her life at my dad’s youth group, and began developing a personal relationship with God. Shortly after meeting my dad, they dated for a few months in high school, and eventually ended up heading to Northwest College together. Eventually they married and had four children, my older brother, Brent, myself, and my two little sisters, Danae and Devyn. In my life, I have seen my mother in many different roles. She is a pastor’s wife, and mentor, spending time with strangers teaching them the way to have a healthy lifestyle. She is a speaker and a writer, investing her time and energy into sharing her experience with other woman, hoping to encourage them to overcome whatever obstacle they are facing. She is a comedian and a tennis player, making people laugh and having a good time whatever she is doing. But more personally to me, she is my mom and teacher; literally! To be the mom she wanted to be she set aside her dreams of a career and homeschooled all four of us kids.
In school, my mom made reading a big deal around our house. In fact, a part of our homework for the day consisted of my brother and I snuggling up next to her on the living room floor, listening to her read classics for hours. The magic of the The Secret Garden, and the make-believe of The Chronicles of Narnia came alive in the rhythm of her voice. My mom instilled in me a love for falling captive to a good book. When I look at the things I need to know to do well in life, I realize that I learned them from my mother, despite the fact that her mother wasn’t always good at being a teacher.
Mothers should teach their daughters self-worth and dignity. Mom, where your mom failed, you succeeded. And, yes, mothers should teach their daughters self-control and discipline. Mom, where your mom fell short, you stood tall. Mothers should teach their daughters faithfulness, and truth, and honor, and beauty, and loyalty, and respect, and, Mom, where your mom was lacking, you overflowed . Thank you for teaching me love. I realize that in my immaturity I may not have always appreciated the past you have overcome to be the mother you are today, but I want you to know that I admire you and feel so privileged to call you my mom. To the mother who loves to teach, from a daughter who loves to learn, thank you