Today is Mother's Day and I want to honor all of you, with a shout out to some special people. My life is better because of these gals... these women... these muthas!
My mom is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She raised my sister and I with more patience than I have ever witnessed in another human being. She was always kind and soft spoken, yet strong. She always looks for the light in others. She is smart, funny and generous... and she made me, which is obviously awesome.
I once asked my mom why she didn't have more kids. In my mind, my 14 month older sister and I were well-mannered, close-to-perfect children who worked hard in school and never colored outside the lines. Why wouldn't my parents want to breed more of that goodness? It seemed like a no-brainer.
Her reply was not what I expected, but it explained everything.
My mother recalled, “It was a cold, snowy January in Iowa when I was eight months pregnant with you. I was carrying your sister on my hip as I trudged through the snow, checking flood gaps on our farm. I struggled up and down the sloping creek banks, clutching your sister and trying to keep my balance while working my way through the thorn bushes and slick spots."
I nodded sympathetically and said, "Yes, that sounds like the glory that is checking flood gaps in January."
Mom continued, "I was attempting to crawl through a barbed wire fence, weighed down with a baby in my arms and one in my belly. That is when your father, who had gotten ahead of me, turned around and yelled, ‘Hurry up!’ I knew in that moment that you would be my last baby.”
My Maternal Grandmother
Grandma Rose was special to me. She understood me and always supported my "creative endeavors". She was one of those people who took the time to get to know others and truly engaged with them. She was a wonderful woman and I admired her grit, her selflessness and her style.She was as talented as she was kind. She passed away over a decade ago. I still miss her every day.
I have many fond memories of my grandmother, but there is one that always makes me laugh.
Grandma loved the mountains and jumped at the chance to visit us in Estes Park, Colorado at our summer home. I looked forward to those weeks that she would stay. She would take my sister and I on walks around the lake. She talked with us. She cooked for us. She watched us do our cowgirl thang with a smile on her face. Those days and weeks with Grandma were wonderful. She made everything a little magical.
My sister and I each had a list of cabin chores to complete every morning before we were allowed to go out to the barn and saddle up our ponies for our daily wild rides on the mountainside. Among many horrible houseworky things, my list included washing dishes. I hated washing dishing. In fact, I still hate washing dishes.
One morning, during one of Grandma's visits, I was rushing to finish my chores so I could spend time in the barn. I set a dish in the drying rack as Grandma walked around the corner. She inspected my work. It was unacceptable. I had done a shoddy job. Again.
She said to me, "You know, Johi, if you aren't going to wash these well, you probably shouldn't do it at all."
I looked at her with big eyes and replied, "What? Thanks!"
Then I wiped the suds off my hands, ran out the door and let the screen slam shut behind me.
See? She understood me. She knew I wasn't meant for housework.
My Paternal Grandmother
Grandma Maxine raised four boys.
Let's just take a moment of silence to let that sink in.
My sister and I spent a lot of time with my dad's parents when we were kids. Specifically, we spent a lot of time begging for the lemon drops they kept in the glove compartment of their station wagon, learning how to catch catfish from the pond and playing dress-up with the fabulous old clothes that Grandma kept in the closet of the upstairs bedroom. Grandma is tough, loving and rad. I've watched her cheat at cards, sing in church, make meals for 20 people, mix up martinis and play pool. She was the person who traveled to Colorado to stay with me and help out after the birth of my first son. She just turned 90 last month. She's an amazing women.
Just yesterday, my parents dropped over to visit Grandma Max. They found her sitting, stone-faced, in her back yard. My mom was startled. She thought that something was wrong. They approached her and asked, "Are you okay, Maxine?"
Grandma looked up and said, "I'm hot! I was just push mowing my lawn and I ran out of gas!"
She's NINETY YEARS OLD, people. Do I really need to elaborate here?
My sister, Jessi, is an unsung hero in the MuthaLand. She's spent the last eight years raising someone else's daughter. My sister loves this little girl as her own. She makes her meals and her bed. She shows her how to do book reports and apply make-up. She buys her clothing and volunteer coaches her basketball team. She loves her, guides her and teaches her about life. She does this all without being called "Mom", and sometimes without recognition that she is, indeed, a mother. This is the most selfless act of parenting. I just want to take a moment and say that many of us see what you do and think that you are amazing.
ALL THE MUTHAS
I'm proud to be a part of this group of women. I'm proud to be a mother. I'm proud to know so many other women who give others so much of themselves. Your kindness, thoughtfulness and general awesomeness is astounding. You all make our world a better place. We wouldn't be who we are today without your guidance, your examples or your presence in our lives.
Plus, without you, who would pick up all those dirty socks?