Sounding Like Mama

Jay's Mom holding Edward, with John and Philip. Walloon Lake, Michigan

Jay's Mom holding Edward, with John and Philip. Walloon Lake, Michigan

This was written last December but got lost in the shuffle!

I’m starting to sound like my mother. That is not necessarily a terrible thing – I adored my mother and I thought her wise and wonderful.  But still…  maybe it is because, at 63, I am approaching the years that I can vividly remember the things Mama thought and said to me in those important years before she died at the way-too-young age of 66. 

When I was 18, I became what my sister referred to as a “Bible thumper” – my faith became central to who I am and I was not shy about sharing that with anyone and everyone who would halfway listen.  I never could really engage my mother in the conversation though.  Her repeated reply to me was, “God is love.”  She said it kind of like I told our four young sons when they asked is Santa Claus real, “Santa Claus is the spirit of Christmas.”  I guess I was hoping that answer would baffle them enough to move on to something more interesting, like riding their Big Wheels in rain puddles outside. I agree with Mama that God IS love but I think He is so much more than that. Faith is just so personal.  

Thanksgiving was huge, chaotic and glorious, at our house, this year.  We had four sons, three daughters-in-law and two baby grandsons under one roof (although the youngest, a bachelor, opted to stay in the blissfully quiet guesthouse). I was barraged with all sorts of memories. My mother loved holding our infant sons…..for about ten minutes. Then she was ready to move on to a deep, intense discussion with an adult.  I’m sad Mama never got to know our grown children, she would have found them fascinating.  Although I love my grandchildren to pieces, I clearly remember the tedium, the bone weariness of caring for babies who can’t walk yet and can’t yet tell you what’s bothering them.  I remember the long days and the joy of discovering it was almost their bedtime.  Like Mama, after some hours of holding, watching, entertaining a tiny tot, I might just long to sit and discuss anything with another adult.

I was reminded of a time we spent a week at my mother-in-law’s house in Michigan with our four little ones.  It was an unusually cold and rainy summer, so we were stuck indoors. The boys were into making these little coaster like things out of placing beads on a shaped plastic mold which we would then put an iron on to meld the beads together.  Hard to describe!  The point is there were these little colored beads absolutely EVERYWHERE!  We cleaned up the best we could on the day of departure, while packing up the six of us and trying not to leave anything (or anyone!) behind.  We arrived back in Florida to a phone call from my brother-in-law.  He was upset (read irate), as was my mother-in-law, that we had left such a mess in our wake.  The boathouse was of particular concern where life jackets, water toys and inner tubes apparently littered the floor. I should have been embarrassed but instead I was hurt – how could they give us a hard time - when we were barely keeping our heads above water?! 

Well, this week, I saw where my mother-in-law was coming from.  My daughters-in-law are absolutely incredible – smart, accomplished, fun and amazing wives to our lucky sons.  The two with babies have already proved to be exceptional mothers who are engaged, loving and just plain good at parenting.  But the mess is simply impossible to keep up with.  I got mad at one of our sons for leaving the peanut butter, messy knife and sandwich crusts out. (I needed a time out 😊).

So, sounding like my mother (or mother-in-law!) is not that bad.  In fact, it makes me wish they were still here so we could experience this grandmother thing together.