Since it’s Mother’s Day here in America (Britain’s was earlier in the year. It has a different origin and is tied to the date of Easter, so it moves around and I miss it), I thought I’d try to write something appropriate.
Trying to encapsulate my relationship with my mother in words is not nearly as easy as part of me thinks it ought to be, though.
Putting words to my relationship with my Dad is easier. For a long time we had a difficult relationship, so I’ve spent a lot more mental energy analysing that one, at least partially in self-defence. Make sense of it or die.
Mum, though, I always had a good relationship with. There’s been far less reason to analyse. But here goes…
We have, of necessity, a long-distance relationship, separated by thousands of miles of Atlantic Ocean and a severe dislike of the telephone on my part. I’ve never been good at putting things into words verbally, and I’m even less good at remembering to actually do things like use the phone, or Skype, or get cards posted in a timely manner. I get so focussed-in on what I’m doing right now that the rest of the world might not exist. Mum will remember how I used to be with my Lego, or reading a book. I haven’t changed that much, Mum.
I get my artistic side from her, particularly my love of bright colours and sense of what goes well together. Mum has a really good eye for colour, even if she does tend to call blue green and green blue in the turquoise part of the spectrum. Her ability to pick out matching or complementary colours is superb.
I almost certainly get my laid-back, easy-going nature from her. I wasn’t a rebellious teenager, mostly (from my perspective) because it wasn’t worth it. The rules were sensible and good: flexible and negotiable when you needed them to be, but at the same time I could never get away with very much. She knew, either through some kind of maternal ESP or because I had the hiding instincts of your average three-year-old (“Where’s Johnny?” <giggle giggle> “under the bed, mummy”). She could always tell.
Mum’s artistic sensibilities came to flower in keeping the house looking nice. I know I drove her to distraction with the ever-present second carpet of Lego in my room; she can feel avenged by the fact that my own kids now drive me around the bend by the carpet of paper bits and general stuff in their room. You were right, Mum; it’s terribly tiring and depressing to walk into a room and not be able to see the floor.
Compared to the harsh dragon-women some of my schoolfriends had to deal with as mothers, I had it good, and I was wise enough to recognise it, even if not verbal enough to express my appreciation. Mum was and is a good woman, faithful in some pretty hard circumstances through her life.
That faithfulness shows a quiet inner strength that you probably wouldn’t tumble to immediately. To have lived through some of what she’s lived through and still come out the other side as intact in her basic personhood and personality as she is – basically upbeat and cheerful, insightful and sensible, able to give and receive love. Amazing.
It was also my mother who led me to the Lord as a young child. I can’t even remember how old I was, but I remember sitting on the orange bedspread (this was the ’70s) with her and asking Jesus into my heart.
Happy (American) Mother’s Day, Mum.