How I Am Like My Mother
As my parents celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary today (yes, I discovered last year that my parents were getting married while many of their contemporaries were tripping out at Woodstock ’69… it was truly the summer of love), it seemed an appropriate time to post a two-part series on some of the characteristics they passed down to me—both genetically and through their teaching and example.
There are, of course, the physical traits that identify me as my mother’s daughter: dark, curly hair… low, quiet voice… long, narrow feet… athletic ability, etc.
Some characteristics we share are a combination of nature and nuture. As I’ve settled into adult life, I’ve discovered great joy in gardening. I don’t remember specifically working in the garden with my mom growing up, but as I think back, her flowers (“Don’t crush them with the basketball,” she’d say) and vegetables were an ever present part of each summer. We always had fresh produce from the garden on the table: tomatoes, beans, lettuce, rhubarb, raspberries, apples. I have snapdragons in my garden today because I remember making them sing operettas out on the front porch steps as a little girl. My parents tell me this is in my blood.
I have many fond memories of reading with my mom throughout childhood. We started with favorites such as Pat the Bunny, Goodnight Moon, and Make Way For Ducklings, then moved up to The Tale of Peter Rabbit and A.A. Milne’s poetry, and eventually to Little House on the Prairie, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hobbit. As I got older and past the age of reading aloud together, I would explore Mom’s bookshelves on my own. In a way we were still reading together as I devoured her copies of The Tanglewood Secret, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Christy. Today she is still sharing books and authors with me.
Entering my pre-teen and teenage years, Mom shared with me her love of classic Hollywood films and BBC dramas. Inevitably, Dad would come in the living room on a Saturday night with a question about the checkbook or some such matter just as the villain was making his move in a Hitchcock film or Anne Elliott was reading Captain Wentworth’s letter (the crux of the romance!) in Persuasion.
We have a phrase in our house that surely reflects a shared genetic condition: “Mrs. Malaprop strikes again!” Mrs. Malaprop is a character in the play, The Rivals, and the origin of the term malapropism. She is known for accidentally substituting a word that sounds similar to the correct word, but means something completely different… as are my mother and I. Our saving grace is that the people around us seem to really enjoy this odd verbal malfunction we share.
Coming home from England, I learned another way I am like my mom: I need multiple days of quiet and not going anywhere to recover from a big event. Too much activity without a respite and I’m done for. I have multiple emails from Mom to the effect of, “Too much running around this week. I need to go read or something before I burn out.”
Most importantly, however, I hope I am like my mom in her love for people and heart to see the lost come to Christ. Mom is a fount of information about people. She knows the details of people’s lives. My parents’ fridge is covered in pictures of loved ones. Mom loves writing letters and notes of encouragement to the people in her life. The ledge abover her kitchen sink is covered with sticky notes and little slips of paper; many of them reminders to pray for people as she works around the house. She faithfully works with her AWANA girls at church, often going the extra mile to share the love of Christ with them.
Thanks, Mom, for being such a great mom. I wish we lived closer so we could see each other more often! I’m sorry I don’t email and call as often as I should. It doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about you. Happy anniversary!
Watch out, Dad, you’re next. ;)