May 11, 2013

I heart my mom

my mom & me
All this week, I knew I wanted to share something about my own southern momma in honor of Mother's Day, but each time I'd sit down to write it I had trouble deciding what to say. I'm not sure why this particular story came to my mind, but I realized it was the perfect memory to share because it sums up who my mom is and what she stands for.

When I was around 11, my family lived in a wonderful old house that sat back off the road in my small hometown. We certainly weren't rich, but this house made me feel like we were. It had two fireplaces, an upstairs, a basement, and my favorite room: the study. I used to sit in the study, with its big, bright windows and polished, wooden built-in bookshelves and pretend I was an heiress to some type of fortune. Oops. This post really isn't about the house at all, but I get nostalgic thinking about it. 

Anyway. My mom was in college, finishing up her teaching degree and had just completed her student teaching at a school in a rural part of our community. This family of kids who attended that school ended up moving near where we lived. 

There were three of the kids that I can remember, two girls and a boy. All around my age. And they were poor. I'm not sure how I gleaned this information, but I know they were. They were always kind of dirty and I never saw any parents around. I don't think my mom told me for sure, but they had a sad family story (maybe their mom had died...I just can't remember). 

What I do remember is them walking over to our house sometimes to say hi to my mom or play basketball in our driveway. It was summer and you know how summer in the south One day I looked out our upstairs window and saw all three of them sitting along the edge of our driveway picking flowers. 

When I came downstairs and asked my mom what they were doing, she said "Oh I told them they could pull weeds from along the side of our driveway and I'd pay them." 

This struck me as ridiculous for a couple of reasons. One being that my dad paid a very nice man named Mr. Richard to cut our grass with his big riding lawn mower. Mr. Richard always trimmed around the driveway with his weed eater. 

The other reason this seemed ridiculous to me was that if my mom was going to give anybody money, I thought it should naturally be me, since I was stuck at home all summer entertaining my little brother. 

Then, to add insult to my 11-year old self's idea of injury, my mom instructed me to fix three glasses of Crystal Light lemonade and take it out to the kids. I did as I was told, but I didn't have much joy in my heart about it. 

When I got to the driveway and passed out the lemonade, they drank it in a few quick gulps and got back to weed pulling. I am ashamed to tell you that even to this day I can remember feeling annoyed and put out. I knew this weed pulling project was completely unnecessary and I was annoyed with my mom for making me be part of the charade, whatever her reason was. 

Looking back, I can't believe I was so oblivious. It's obvious to me now that she was just trying to offer a little help in a rough situation. And I'm sure she knew they were too proud to take money outright so she concocted the weed pulling as a cover. 

And there I was, my big bratty self, unwilling or unable to understand the situation and secretly hoping these kids would just get tired of pulling weeds and go home. I remember thinking, "This is my summer vacation for goodness sake. I cannot be bothered with them."

Again, I'm not proud of myself in this story. But I'm grateful because I have a mom who could always be bothered when it came to people who needed a little (or a lot) of help. And I have spent my life watching her take the time to do these kinds of things for people she encounters. Sometimes they realize it, sometimes they don't. But it always makes a positive difference in their lives. I'm a better person today because of the example my mom set for me. 

If you've met her, you probably already know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't met her, I hope you're lucky enough to get the chance. 

I've said this before, but it bears saying again: if my mom weren't already my mom, I'd wish she were. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there (including mine). Y'all make our lives better in so many ways.