Not only was yesterday Mother's day, the Sunday before that was my mom's birthday. May is pretty much Mother's Month at my family's house.
Last night when I got home for dinner, we all indulged in some reminiscing. Of course, with both Tim and Mark present, before long the focus went from our memories of Mom to funny and silly things Tim and Mark did when they were younger, but it was fun to talk with my siblings and remember together some of the good time we had when we were kids.
Any woman who can bear and raise eight children is pretty remarkable, but what's more remarkable is the way my mother tried to stay as involved in our lives as possible. Sure, we did a fair amount of raising each other and I'm certain we all felt like we didn't get enough attention sometimes, but what child doesn't? My mom had earned her master's in elementary education and was teaching third grade in Salt Lake when she and my dad got married. She quit her job after the first year of their marriage because she was a few months away from giving birth to Rebecca, and she continued to make motherhood her full-time job from that point on. And did she ever make it a full-time job.
She must have been a great teacher, if the way she ran her household is any indication. When we were preschool age, she would start us on simple textbooks for learning reading and writing and math. We had set aside time for creative activities and passes to the rec center, where we all took swimming lessons and also enjoyed many hours of fun just splashing in the water. She started us out in the kitchen pretty young, too. When I was in second grade, seven years old, my favorite concoction to make were pans of giant snickerdoodle cookies that my mother patiently allowed me to create in her kitchen, along with a pretty decent sized mess. She started teaching us piano pretty young too, and we all have chosen to continue to develop our musical talents, some on the piano, some branching out. We took trips to museums and the library regularly. One of our favorite traditions was something we called "rock and talk," where we would periodically get one-on-one time with Mom. It was generally just before bedtime, and we would curl up on a big rocking recliner together and just talk about whatever we wanted. We could tell Mom about our lives or ask her questions or make suggestions for things we thought it would be fun to do. Mark, Tim, Laura, and I agreed last night that Rock and Talk was one of our favorites.
My mom is a talented woman, and she definitely used her talents to raise her family. She made us fun birthday cakes, like cookie monster cakes covered in blue coconut frosting, or train cakes with individual cars. More than that, she made us a home-cooked, from scratch breakfast and dinner almost every day of the week. In fact, when I was a kid, the only day of the week we were allowed to have cereal from breakfast was on Sunday. Every other morning, Mom was up making us pancakes or French toast or coffee cake or German pancakes or cream of wheat. We barely knew what frozen burritos and pizza were. She often made outfits for the younger kids, and always made Easter dresses for the girls. She patiently taught me how to sew and guided me through the tricks of making formal dresses for dances in high school.
I read an article recently about raising families where a family therapist made a comment to the effect that parents should gauge the job they do as parents by what their children think of them at age 25, not what they think of them while they're growing up. Just like any mom, mine got yelled at, disobeyed, and was probably severely underappreciated while she was working so hard to keep us healthy, happy, and educated. But I think as we get older, we're realizing more and more how fortunate we were to be raised in the home that we were. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.