May 06 2016 Thank you, Mother…
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right.
Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others.
Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”
I did not grow up in a perfect family…(cue the record needle scratch).
I did not grow up in a perfect home with a perfect mom and dad and perfect siblings who all got along and everybody lived happily ever after. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t exist. Anywhere. Except maybe on TV.
As an adolescent I felt cheated out of the childhood utopia portrayed in weekly situational comedies. You know the kind… where June Cleaver was everybody’s favorite mom who never raised her voice, always wore a pleasant smile on her perfectly lip-sticked lips, always wore a perfectly clean apron over her wrinkle-free A-line dress, and a string of pearls around her wrinkly-free neck. And June always had hot-out-of-the-oven homemade cookies awaiting the Beave and Wally as they returned home from school each day. No slice-and-bakes for June. Nope. She was perfect, that June.
She was also fictitious.
I am convinced that June Cleaver could never have raised a real human being. Because June Cleaver wasn’t real.
A real mom raised me. She was and is an imperfect mom. But she is my mom and I am her quite imperfect first child. She is the “mother” that God Almighty in His infinite wisdom personally selected, along with my daddy, to raise my 4 siblings and me. She didn’t do it perfectly. But she did what she could. And what she did was pretty dang good. I mean… I’ve made it this far, haven’t I?
For most of our life together ours was…let’s just say…a very scratchy mother-daughter relationship. We fought. A lot. About everything. For years I compared her to all the other moms I knew. I thought my friends had it a hundred times better with their moms than I did with mine. I was wrong. Nobody has a perfect anything… parent, child, childhood, upbringing, adolescent…marriage. And if they tell you they did or that they do then they are lying through their Crest-strip-whitened teeth.
At one point, in my twenties, I was so distraught that I sought the counsel of a wise and godly woman who I thought could help me sever the difficult relationship I had with my mom. She cut me off mid-litany, looked me in the eye and with loving firmness said, “Young lady, you are to honor your mother and father if for no other reason than that they gave you life that you might know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.” Boom.
Those words changed my perspective, and my life. And they slowly, but surely changed my relationship with my Mother.
It’s funny how the Word of God really does work when you work it into your life. When you think about what is instead of focusing on what isn’t. There’s a lot about the way my mother raised me that was hard and harsh, but at 58 years old I have come to the stunning realization that even in the worst of times there has always been so much more good than bad in our relationship. There is so much more about my Mother that is worthy of praise and that I am deeply and eternally grateful and indebted to her for.
They say that it usually takes giving birth to children of your own to appreciate the mother who raised you. Though I have never given birth to “children,” I appreciate my Mother nonetheless.
And, so, Mother… for the things I’ve never said “thank you” for, I thank you now:
- For putting me first. For carrying me in your womb for 9 months… and for a whole lot longer after that.
- For caring for me: when I could not care for myself, you did everything for me…as an infant, as a child. You cooked for me, fed me, cleaned me up, dressed me up, took me to the doctor, took me to school, took me to ballet and piano lessons, showed me how to tie my shoe laces…and taught me how to do all of those things for myself so I could teach someone else and show them how.
- For coming into my bedroom at night, watching me sleep…and holding up a mirror to my face to make sure that I was still breathing. I sometimes do this for John.
- For getting up in the middle of the night when I was sick, and holding my head over the toilet while I threw up. I mean…really. Thank you! Just the sound of my dog throwing up sends me heaving.
- For teaching me to pray the Lord’s Prayer, and to sing, “Jesus Loves Me” like I meant it… because I now do. And after 2 decades of studying and teaching the Bible those were the only 2 things I could recall to mind during a frightening trip through an MRI machine after my breast cancer diagnosis.
- For sending us to bed with the promise that if there was a good movie on later, you’d wake us up to watch it. And you would. You gave me a great love for classic movies, theater, and acting. You didn’t know it at the time, but you were stirring up a passion in me to entertain and to speak… and to use that for God’s glory.
- For teaching me how to iron, how to perfectly fold a fitted sheet, to make a bed, to hand-wash dishes, to wash/dry clothes…and to kill and dispose of a roach (a way of life one must learn when growing up in Florida).
- For showing me how to turn a slice of boloney, American cheese, and Wonder Bread into a gourmet meal! And insisting that I learn how to actually cook dinner for our family because you had your hands full with the other 4 kids. Thankfully, I have yet to wind up starved to death or lacking an answer to, “What’s for dinner?” My husband is most appreciative.
- For literally never letting me stray too far from the sidewalk. For tracking me down at a street party across town at 11:30 PM- a half hour past my curfew, without the use of a cell phone, computer, or social media, and having someone’s mom tell me you were on the phone and to “GET HOME NOW” or you were coming over! Not only is it utterly miraculous that you accomplished all of that via a landline, but I am quite certain your short leash saved my scrawny neck. And it instilled in me a reverent fear of God…and you. Not necessarily in that order.
- For demanding that I eat everything on my plate because, “…there are starving children in Africa and other countries who would love that meatloaf!” And you were right. Your command is the very thing that has motivated me to always ask for a “doggie bag” at restaurants, and to support World Vision and Compassion International.
- For spanking me. Because I deserved it and because It was Biblical then, and its Biblical now. I pity those who have never been spanked by a loving parent.
- For giving me the best piece of advice ever: “Don’t break up with John Tolson!!!”
- For loving me anyway… even when I hurt you, shamed you, and broke your heart. Forgive me for not always living my life in a way that honored you and Daddy or pointed to Jesus.
Mother, I could go on and on and on…with a list a mile long. But I will close with this, the thing for which I am most grateful:
For YOU… and for giving me life that I did come to know Jesus Christ
as my Lord and Savior, and have loved Him for over 40 years.
We have come a long, long way, my Mother and I. The relationship we have today is nothing short of a miracle; we love one another deeply, respect, admire, and appreciate one another. There are still scratchy moments from time to time because- well…He who began a good work in us is not through with either of us yet. I am truly and eternally grateful to God for my Mother, Diane, who raised me, and who has never stopped being a good, good Mother to me. I am who I am because of her. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Now, go call your own mom while you still can, and tell her thank you.
You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!