Yesterday, I shared how thankful I am for my three mothers. Today, I’d like to celebrate another gift from God—my two beautiful daughters.
For me, Mother’s Day focuses on my children. My calling came from God, “I give you these two babies … for a lifetime.”
“Thank you, God, for entrusting them to me. Learning from my mothers’ examples, I will love, nurture, and pray for them. I will teach them about You so they are prepared to serve You. Thank you for the best job ever!”
I wrote the following essay to audition for Listen to Your Mother. While I wasn’t a finalist, it was a priceless experience to recount some of our daughters’ childhood stories and recall the richness of my life—all because of them.
Perfect Daughters, A Mother’s Reward
My first pregnancy was like going to heaven. I helped build my baby’s strong bones—one dish of ice cream at a time. People offered me their chairs. Others wanted to carry my packages. I sure felt like a queen!
A new queen took the throne on the day our daughter, Courtney, was born. Appropriately, the focus turned from me to the new little one in my arms. Time to put on my big girl panties—motherhood arrived!
Determined to be the perfect mother, I pampered her. Like Johnny-on-the-Spot, I jumped up for every little cry. I wiped her runny nose until it was red. I kissed all her boo-boos, patched them with Band-Aids, and added more kisses.
Just about the time I had motherhood figured out, I announced my next pregnancy. Carrying a toddler and several shopping bags while pregnant didn’t evoke the same feelings of sympathy from passersby. But, in those two years, I seemed to have grown twelve hands, and was pretty self-sufficient.
All the pampering flew out the window when Michelle, our second daughter, was born. If she fell, I’d say: Jump up! Brush it off! Throw it away! Sometimes I missed seeing her runny nose until she was licking the snot from her lips. Yep, times were busier with two children, and certainly more laid back.
Children can be very opposite, and our family was no exception. Courtney was our book reader and adverse to risk. Michelle was our daredevil and limit-pusher.
One of the many mom rewards is spending time with her children. Our favorite activity was baking chocolate chip cookies. I taught the girls about the danger of getting too close to the mixer’s whirling beaters. To avoid injury, the girls measured the ingredients, and I added them to the mixing bowl.
One baking day, while they were measuring, I turned around to grab another ingredient. Yes, I should have turned off the mixer, but I didn’t. Courtney, my risk-adverse guard, was standing by. I guess Michelle couldn’t see inside the turning bowl, so she leaned a little closer. Suddenly, I heard panicked cries for help. I dove toward the girls. Michelle’s blonde hair was entangled with dough, and the still-moving beaters were smacking the side of her head.
I turned off the mixer and removed the beaters. Then I pulled two scared little girls into my arms. Once Michelle’s clean hair was in a ponytail, we threw out the batter and started over.
When we moved to Memphis, we intentionally chose a neighborhood of new homes with young families, lots of kids, and a cul-de-sac for safety. Naturally, new construction provides an amusement park of fun. There were mounds of dirt to climb and slide down. There were pieces of wood with which to build walkways. However, sometimes the wood had nails jutting upward. So I cautioned the girls to be vigilant when playing in these areas.
One day, Michelle came limping into the house, crying hysterically. Blood was oozing from where a rusty nail had penetrated the sole of her once-white Keds and then pierced her foot. I snatched her up into my arms and my husband drove us to the emergency room. Much to her chagrin, Michelle received a tetanus shot, with a big needle.
In her young adult years, Michelle brought the story back to life as she revealed it actually wasn’t an accident. Instead, it was the result of a dare—to see who could stand on top of the nail the longest.
When the girls started school, our house was a few blocks from the bus stop. On rainy days, I drove those few blocks, and we waited in the car for the bus to arrive. If driving to the bus stop to keep my girls dry would get me the Mother-of-the-Year Award, then drive I must!
One of those rainy days, Courtney and I were chatting in the front while Michelle was singing in the back. When the rain started to come down harder, I pulled on the electric window lever and started to close all the windows.
Michelle’s little voice said, “Mom, put the window down.”
Without turning around I replied, “Oh no, honey, it’s raining too hard.”
“Mom, PUT THE WINDOW DOWN!”
I turned to see her head stuck in the almost-closed window. Her smashed little guppy lips, were pleading for help. Sheepishly, I put the window down.
In spite of the childhood mishaps, motherhood has privileges beyond any other calling. I found rewards in things like teaching my daughters’ about life while their eyes reflected amazement, feeling their little fingers play with my hair, a hug from their tiny arms, the privilege of listening to their secrets, and hearing their voices say “I love you, Mom.”
And now in adulthood, the girls and I reminisce and laugh about the many crazy childhood stories. Our bond is anchored as best friends.
I’m not the perfect mother, but I’ve got perfect daughters … perfect for our family.