Happy Mother’s Day!
This is one of most favorite holidays celebrated by modern culture. Because I’m a mother and well, heck yes, I want to be acknowledged for all that I do! But it’s also because it’s a day that I get to honor and pay respects to all of the women and mothers in my life whom I admire and am inspired by.
This week I want to introduce some of the mothers that I know (and some whom I haven’t even met!) who make my life more bearable, sweeter, and funnier on a daily basis despite the rigors of motherhood. I asked some friends (moms and kids) to tell me about their own mothers. Their answers are better than any love letter or any Hallmark card for that matter; a perfect and complete ode to Mom.
So, this is our greeting card today to every women who is a mother, and every child who has a mother. For every mother a rose!
These roses aren’t just any roses either, they are infused with much love, good thoughts and warm sunshine as you can imagine. These are the roses grown in my garden, by the little old woman who lived here before me; and the roses from the annual May Day celebration at Camellia Waldorf School on Saturday. The festival’s roots go back deep into a time when the fecund Mother and Re-birth of Life itself was recognized by people who danced the Maypole and adorned themselves with wreaths of roses. The rose, a thing of beauty and boundless mystery was used as a symbol for The Mother, giver of this fragile life.
It is a day to celebrate the joy, the beauty and the deep love that mothers bring. Ahhh, yes.
My friend Laurie, or “miss Laurie Williams”, or “Chicken Pot Pie” as she is occasionally known is the epitome of ‘Mama’. She’s loving, a great cook, and an encourager par excellence. And she has the face of an angel, but I think it’s really the Texan accent that tops it off. Mmm…Honey!
This first rose goes to her mom Carolyn Deanna Davis Williams – she has always gone by Deanna, and most people call her Dood. I feel I almost already know her, just by knowing her daughter. I can see the same warmth and ease in this photo that I know in Laurie, and in her shining daughter Alayne. Here’s what they had to say about Dood (aka Granny):
At 46 I still want my mom when I am sick. I talk to her almost every day and have my entire life. I read once that Farrah Fawcett talked to her mom daily. It never occurred to me that it was unnatural until reading that in People Magazine. I wondered if it was a Texan thing. Who knows, but there is no one more trustworthy or whose opinion I value more. At this time of life it seems she is more effective on the phone than in person, but that is ok! I don’t really need the physical (unless I am sick); funny thing that, but so true.
She taught me to be to be politically active and a great cook. So it seems the basics were covered. Along the way there was canning, gardening, and crafts. Always ahead of her time, she longed to home school her children, but alas it was illegal at the time in Texas. The irony being that the Fundamentalist Christians fought hard to overturn the law! My sister pushed the dream into a reality with amazing results. Now I stand on the precipice and hold lofty visions of a similar process. She is much more of a free spirit than I ever imagined being and frequently starts a book mid-way through just to see if she likes the ending before wasting her time on the start. She loves to learn and her heart yearns to know more.
Alayne mentioned that her grandmother is “lovely, a trooper, and allergic to almost everything. And she can’t go into a salon due to her allergies, but she does not need a salon.” This is a great truth to the woman we now call Granny. Even her husband calls her that, but sometimes he refers to her as “your mother.” This frequently happens during times of unfulfilled expectations. Who asked him anyway?
There are many times in my week that quotes from mom come up, both at work and home. Way beyond all of the biblical and Shakespearean references there was this gem: “You will always love your own children more than you do your parents and that is the natural order of life.” Thanks mom for giving me the permission to love my daughter as much as I do! My mom is the epitome of being in the moment and letting go.
Next up is a woman who as been like a mother to me in many ways over all the years that I’ve known her. Ramona Wheeler is the mom of my dearest friends Stefanie and Justine (aka Bean). She is an amazing woman who has survived and thrived through many adversities. She is the head of a serious matriarchy of fantastic females now including granddaughters and great-granddaughters. And I love her because she has always made me feel unwaveringly welcome into her family. Here is what her daughter Justine wrote about her:
One of the things I cherish about my Mom is how FUN she was when I was growing up. One time a friend asked me after I had been bragging about one of our many escapades, “Are you rich?” I answered, “No. My Mom just acts like we are.” My mom was always up for an adventure. A road trip across the country was never out of the question. We did this many times. A spontaneous weekend here or there filled with relatives, friends, or a stray we picked up along the way. A party at our house where we were not told…”go to bed.” She always had an open door to her friends and to my sister’s and mine.
I think that is where I learned how to have room in my life for so many things and not feel like giving was too hard or too much. I am ever grateful that she showed me how to create community and to make whatever I was doing fun. My mom wore so many hats and accomplished so many things personally and professionally. A mother, wife, teacher, carpenter, waitress, day care provider, nurse, the list goes on and on. I watched her put one foot in front of the other, never hesitant. How lucky for me as a young girl to have this modeled. I am truly blessed.
A gorgeous lavender rose for Jacquelyn Marie, mother to Caitlin Sweeney, and my own “goddess mother”. Jacquelyn and Caitlin have been in my life ever since I can remember, owing to the fact that she was one of my mom’s best friends and they raised their children together as young mothers. Caitlin is someone I have always looked up to even in our girlhood; just a few years older than me she always seemed so sophisticated and worldly to me when we were kids.
Now that we are both mothers I still admire her immensely. Not the least of which because she bravely took a year “off” and went with her husband and 8-year-old daughter Sadie, to live in a small town Costa Rica where she is experiencing jungle life and blogging. Caitlin accurately describes the thread of adventurousness and curiosity that winds through the generations of women in her family, and the gifts that come from simply being with one another:
One of my great joys as a mother is watching my own mother interact with my daughter. Part of my pleasure stems from an abstract romantic ideal of multiple generations of women living their lives together. Something I’ve no doubt gotten stuck in my head from reading far too many novels centered around this theme (which for some reason almost always take place in the south – why is that?). In fact, I sometimes fantasize about an alternate life in which I had children at 20 (instead of 35) and am now a grandmother. Naturally in this fantasy four generations of women/girls are hanging out together on a large porch somewhere in Louisiana (sometimes we are even shelling peas, that’s how cliché my fantasies are). But beyond the abstract (and rather misplaced) notion of porch swings in the south, is my appreciation for the very tangible marvel that is my mother’s and my daughter’s relationship.
One of the qualities I most admire about my mother is her full engagement in the world and all the many wonderful things it has to offer. She loves to learn new things, to experience new adventures, to develop new skills, to seek out and appreciate art, literature, nature, food, traditions. This trait is one my daughter also possesses. My daughter has a zealous (albeit sometimes reckless) curiosity about the world that, despite occasionally destructive results at eight years old, is an enviable quality I know will serve her well as an adult. My mother offers up to my daughter countless opportunities to support, develop and focus my daughter’s curiosity; myriad ways to revel in the amazing world we live in. Whether they are making bread, painting cards with natural dye they have made, collecting seashells, decorating an alter, creating a mural, learning how to spin yarn, creating a shadow puppet show, attending a dance performance or a cultural festival, or reading a book, they do so with an enthusiasm and a delight that makes me smile. The world is their oyster and they aren’t going to sit idly by while it creates pearls.
I am often swept into their sparkling orbit as my mother and my daughter create and discover, and I am grateful both for the experiences they present me with and for the encouragement and joy they give each other. At such times I think how lucky my daughter is to have such a woman in her life, and how lucky I am to have both them in mine. All that and I don’t even have to shell peas.
I asked my sister Oami to write something about our mother, Judith Avril Wilson. Mom will have been gone four years this August, and not a day goes by that I don’t realize or discover yet another gift given to me by her, simply by the way she lived her life. Oami writes:
“My earliest memories of my mother are the smell of patchouli oil perfume, her long dark hair, and the gentle clinking of the stack of colorful bangles she always wore. I thought she was the most beautiful person in the world.
She always seemed so serious to me, but she also had an almost childlike joy in and curiosity about the world. She certainly had a special connection to children, and not just her own. After her death my niece wrote that mom used to send her care packages full of marvelous items like rice candies and licorice rats. And a friend told me that mom sent her postcards while she was away at summer camp, knowing that she received few from her own family. She didn’t make a big deal about it, but I think she knew how these little gestures made kids feel special, and cherished.”
My biggest regret now that I am a mother, is that my mom is not here to get to know my three sons and for them to not know her. She is the person I want to call when one of them is sick, or when they experience triumphs, or when I simply don’t know what move to make next. I like to think she is connected to us still in some way and can watch over my boys as they grow, like a Great Mother in The Sky. I love you mom!
As a part of this project of collecting Mother-stories I wrote a quick questionnaire, just 10 randomly chosen questions to plumb the depths of the kids’ minds. I guinea-pigged them on my boys (who made for a bad interview) and then sent them out to the children of some select friends.
I know that their mothers are unique and special people, but do they?? Turns out…they do!
My dear friend Anne Marquiss is undoubtedly one of the kindest and most generous people I know. Mother of two, teacher and crafter-extraordinare; Anne always has a listening ear to lend, a funny insight or a creative solution (in fact I want to start a think-tank with her when we grow up!). Anne is also a consummate multi-taker, as she proved by transmitting my interview questions to her kids and transcribing their answers, all in-between horseback riding lessons and celebrating Mother’s Day with her own mom and grandma. Thanks dear!
Submitted by Hank McKay (12) and Gaby McKay (9) :
1. What is your Mom’s full name? How old is she?
(Hank) “AnneMarie Marquiss. I don’t know your age for sure. Your 39 right? You’re 39.”
2. What is your favorite food that your mother makes?
(Hank) “I know your famous for your soups but I gotta say your homemade Mac and cheese”
3. What is something that surprises you about your mom?
(Hank) She looks decent for her age
4. Is there a favorite gift or talent which you have inherited from your mom?
(Hank) Her tallness.
(Gaby) Her talent for searching for four-leaf clovers
5. What color best describes your mom? (and why?)
(Hank) “I hate these questions. Definitely not pink. What’s black and blue together? Yeh black and blue, black and blue, black and blue. Blue because your peaceful and black because you have that side.”
6. What would you tell the world about your mom if you could?
(Hank) She’s Sweet. She’s a good Mom.
7. Any good jokes you learned from your mom?
(Gaby) How do you fit an elephant into a Safeway bag? Take the s out of safe and take the f out of way.
[editor’s confused answer: …..there’s no ‘f ‘in way??]
7. What song reminds you of your mom?
(Hank) “This is so hard because there are so many songs. That’s really tough. Not that.. not that. What’s that led zeppelin song? Hold on one sec- Houses of the Holy. I don’t know why?”
(Gaby) “Live Your Life” by T.I
[This one goes out to you Annie…keep on chasin’ that paper!]
Thanks too go out to Cheyenne Petree (16) who is the daughter of my friend Liza Spera. Liza is mother to four children, awesome DJ and budding entrepreneur with her catering business Love and Ovens (specializing in slow food and Irish cuisine – yum!). She is a new mama-friend to me, (we only met a few years ago at our children’s school) but she is someone who I’ve been wanting to get to know more, which I did through Cheyenne’s answers.
What I do know is that Liza is surfing the waves of change in her life right now, but I hope her daughter’s words confirm to her what those of us who care about her already know: that she is loving soul whose heart and mind will no doubt see her through. And that the gifts she has freely given will be returned many times over!
1. What is your Mom’s full name?
Liza Alexandra Spera
2. What is your favorite food that your mother makes?
Quinoa salad with cranberries and mint!
3. What is the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?
To be open and accepting and to seek to learn not to judge
4. What is something that surprises you about your mom?
That she used to skateboard!
5. Is there a favorite gift or talent which you have inherited from your mom?
Being artistic, creative and ready to improvise.
6. If you could change something about your mom, what would it be?
7. What color best describes your mom? (and why?)
Red because it is a warm color and she is very loving and emotionally oriented, also, because in eurythmy, the movement spreads just like her smile (:
8. Any good jokes you learned from your mom? What makes your mom laugh?
All the time! She is so funny and bright, not to mention her wits of lightning! There are so many jokes that we have shared. What makes her laugh are jokes shared by people who are not afraid to make fun of themselves in sacrifice for a good laugh.
9. What song reminds you of your mom?
Imagine by John Lennon because she’s always had this wonderful philosophy, and this space that is held for the world and people that is really inspiring to me.
10. What would you tell the world about your mom if you could?
How much she has been a support to me for basically anything I wanted to do. She has always been there to talk to, and give loving, kind advice and there is nothing I am more grateful for!
Just as I was wrapping up this post, I got an email from another friend Kelly Nutting who shared with me this piece she wrote today about her late mama. Kelly is raising three of her own beautiful children and she although lost her mother as a young woman she is deeply wise in the way of Motherhood. She knows the value of the circle of mothers, sharing their deepest fears and joys and wishes, all over a good cup of tea.
Here is here is her story:
Mama, I hung the sheets out on the line today. The wind was blowing and the sun was high. Watching the sheets billow out and drop back to stillness was hypnotic. I don’t know how long I stood there…just watching. And I don’t know if it was the way the sun light was angled just so or if it was the smell of jasmine in the air, but for a moment I saw you mama, smelt you mama, and mama… you were sweetly smiling just like I remembered. You were wearing that denim apron that you had made out of old jeans before I was even born. It had a big pocket in the front that held all your clothes pins. I loved that apron…
The chain of friendship linking all these mothers, and their mothers, together unbroken throughout time, continues. Each woman a jewel in the succession, adding her own special sparkle and shine.
There are so many more moms that deserved to be honored and I wish I could cover them all here, but I can’t. Just a few more special shout-outs to some remarkable moms do need to be given though:
And for all you others…the women who I carpool with (Carsynn! Jennifer!), the women I exchange childcare with (Sandra! Mary!), the parents in my sons’ classes – you know who you are. I love you all! You are the roses in my garden, the ribbons on my Maypole. Blessings to you all on this day that celebrates mothers. May we ever find comfort in the support of one another.