Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day to my MOM

My mother never yelled at me. Seriously—never. She didn’t spank me either. It just wasn’t in her nature to yell or spank. Dad, well he shouted once in a while. Where Mom was the calm, Dad was the storm. It was the way they balanced each other. Our house was the place that we could throw all the cushions on the floor and play the ground is poison. It’s the house, where we could climb trees, paint murals on the utility room walls, make popsicles, and play basketball in the driveway. We made hideouts in the garage attic, the doghouse, and in the storage room. We slid down the stairs on pieces of cardboard and climbed through the laundry shoot. 

The greatest gift my mother gave me was the freedom to be myself. After four boys, I was her long awaited daughter. I’m sure she had hoped for a frilly bundle of feminine joy, but instead she got a creative, fun-loving tomboy. I wore jeans to school before they were allowed. I resisted rules and pushed the limits. In a time period and place when girls were expected to follow I pushed ahead. When girls were expected to be quiet, I talked. When girls were expected to agree, I argued. I saw the world as inherently unjust and asked a lot of questions. I was never discouraged from doing something because it wasn’t ladylike. At least not by my mom. 

The world teaches girls early on what is and isn’t acceptable. I don’t think I knew there was a difference between me and my brothers until I was about four. I wanted to play outside without my shirt on, like my brothers did, or at least have it unbuttoned and my mom said I couldn’t because I was a girl. That didn’t make sense to me. From then on, more and more wouldn’t make sense to me. Others let me know that I should be quiet, that I should be feminine, that I shouldn’t be “bossy,” that I should let the boys lead or win at sports (seriously that was taught) but it wasn’t my mom. 

Today I’m feeling grateful that in a time where it could have been very different, I was encouraged to just be me. Because being me is all I ever wanted to be.

Addendum:  So after I wrote this post I went to a Mother's Day dinner at my brother's house. My mom is in her late 80's and is getting quite forgetful, but she told this simple story about her own mother. My mother grew up in a small town in Eastern Montana. She said that her mother was different than all the other mothers in the neighborhood. Her mother never said "shoo!" Whenever the kids went into a house to play, they were shooed outdoors. The moms in the neighborhood didn't want to be bothered with noisy children. She said her mother welcomed the kids and even fed them. I said, I grew up with a mother just like that. And she said, you grew up with a mother who loved being a mother. I did. It made all the difference. Thanks MOM! 

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