10 May 2012

Happy Mother's Day: reflections on two wonderful women

Mother's Day is always an interesting day of reflection for me. Heck, the entire weekend is a time of reflection and sweet memories. It used to be a day and time that I celebrated my mom and my grandmothers without really understanding eveything that they were and did. I was thankful for all that they did but it was 3 years ago that it began to take on a new meaning for me. Suddenly, I was a mom. I had a daughter of my own and my relationship with my mom took on a new facet. I suddenly felt a deeper appreciation for what she went through to bring me into the world and her mother before her. There are two pictures that are especially poignant to me and have extra special meaning for me at this time of year and I'd like to share them.

This is a picture of my mom, her mom, and me. This picture was taken at a mother-daughter brunch at Midtown Mission Church of God in Atlanta, GA. Obviously I was pretty little. I don't really remember this picture being taken or the brunch but I do have many wonderful memories of Mom and of Memmaw.

My mom homeschooled my brother and I so I spent a lot of time with her. We saw Memmaw a lot, during the week and on weekends for family dinners. They both gave me so many wonderful examples of how to be a good mother, both to a young child and to a grown one. They both taught me, through their examples, how to love unconditionally. They didn't have to sit me down and give me a lecture about "This is how you love someone", I learned it just by watching them and being around them. They didn't just teach me through their words but through their actions. They taught me how to love God, love family, love friends, and love animals. They showed me that saying you love someone isn't enough, you have to back it up with your actions.

Memmaw was an incredible lady. She told me some of the best stories, she had wonderful jewelry that she was always happy to let me play with and try on, and she had an AMAZING collection of nail polish that she was always more than happy to let me try out. I can't remember a time in my life that I ever saw her without her beautiful fingernails painted, usually either red or pink, sometimes a nice coral (but mostly red). I think it was at her house and through her nail polish (and lipstick) collection that I learned that red is not just plain red, there are many different shades of red, each with their own nuance. As I got a little older she would let me help her paint her nails and do her makeup. After my family moved to Texas when I was 8. Memmaw and Pawpaw would come out to visit us fairly regularly (considering that it was a 1,000 mile drive). Memmaw would stay in my room and she'd let me help her decide what to wear for the day AND (wonder of wonders) let me help pick her makeup and nail polish AND help put it on. I loved it, it made me feel so grown-up and mature, it made me feel important that she thought that much of my opinion. Her confidence in me helped me to have confidence in myself. Memmaw was good like that, she made people feel important, made people feel good about themselves. Her smile was beautiful and contagious.

Mom is the same way. I look back on how Memmaw was and I see so much of her, and her influence, in my own mom. Gentle but strong (don't mistake her kindness for weakness, I definitely got my iron will from both sides of my family, haha), kind, loving, self-less, considerate. She just gives and gives and gives of herself without even being asked and then gives some more. I couldn't have asked for a better example growing up than I had in her. She was the woman I lived with, the woman I saw every day who inspired me. She taught me my ABC's, tried her best to teach me Algebra, taught me how to cook, and taught me how to be a mom. She encouraged my love for reading, was involved in my Sunday School and - when I got older - my youth group. She did more than just drop me off at 4-H meetings, she stayed for them, she encouraged me in my Clothing & Textiles group projects (ask me sometime about the skirt made out of neckties that tested both of our patience and resolve), she supported me as I ran for and was elected to serve in different officer positions from County Council Delegate to Parliamentarian, Secretary to 1st Vice President, and was always there for my competitions, cheering for me, congratulating me, and helping me learn to be a good sport when I didn't win. Things were rocky when I hit adolescence but she was still there for me and supported me through a very rocky Senior year of high school at a now-closed small private Christian school.

I wish Memmaw were in this picture physically but I knew she's there in spirit, in our hearts and our memories. This was Mother's Day 2 weeks after Elizabeth was born, my first Mother's Day as a mom. I was exhausted and struggling with my PostPartum Depression (I figured at the time that it was just the normal Baby Blues), but taking this picture was such a happy moment for me. I felt that I was taking my place in the world as something I had always dreamed of: a mom. Mom had come down to stay with us a couple of days before my due date since she was my labor coach and was there with me when I gave birth. She stayed with me in the hospital through the longest and most physically painful 32 hours of my life (it was compounded by my crankyness at not being allowed to eat anything) and then stayed with us at our house for 2 weeks. She cleaned, cooked, took care of the baby at night when I was exhausted and Elizabeth wouldn't sleep (unless she was with Grandma), brought me nursing pads when I first experienced let down and started dripping milk on the floor, ran interference at the door and on the phone, kept me company, and was just generally amazing. Just as she always has, she supported me.

When I found out I was pregnant the first time, she was one of the very first people I told (after telling Eric, of course, and my best friend Ashley, whose moral support I needed to figure out how to even tell Mom). When I told her that I was pregnant and Eric and I didn't know whether we were going to get married and keep the baby or give the baby up for adoption, she hugged me, loved on me, did NOT judge or criticize me, and assured me that no matter what our decision was she would be there to help however I needed it, every step of the way. She went with me to my first two prenatal appointments and was with me for the 8 week ultrasound when we saw the baby and got to see and hear the heartbeat. She kept me supplied with saltines and ginger ale for a very horrid first trimester of what probably constituted hyperemesis, and helped me plan a wedding in a very short 7 weeks. 2 of those weeks she was in Brazil on a medical mission trip and she found and brought back a beautiful beaded pair of white Havaiana flip flops (my favorite), knowing it was the only way she would get me to wear shoes when I walked down the aisle. She was there for wedding dress fittings (including a bout of morning sickness wearing my bustier and petticoat), meetings with the venue, and helping pick colors, food, and a cake. She was there for my wedding, helping me get ready and making sure everything was perfect.

If there were one word I could choose to describe my mom, I couldn't pick JUST one. I could pick several "One's" and one of those would be "There". Her support and love didn't waver when I was admitted to the hospital the first time with PostPartum Depression. When Eric called to let her know what was going on, she  packed a bag, got in her car, and drove down to San Antonio to stay at the house and take care of my husband and 3 month old daughter. She came with them to visit me each evening at the hospital and comforted me when my anxiety and depression was triggered by the fact that Elizabeth started crying and wasn't comforted by me. I was so upset by the fact that I couldn't even soothe my own baby, that my baby was happier with her grandma than with me, but Mom pointed out that she was probably just picking up on my tension and stress and assured me that my daughter still loved me. She told me she was proud of me for getting help and that she loved me too. She's supported me on my journey through and after PPD. She reads my blog posts and gives me feedback. She has never once made me feel like a failure of any sort.

The bond between us was always close but it's only grown closer as I've started my own family. Mom takes my calls no matter what time of the day or night it is and reassures me that yes, tantrums are normal, no I'm not a bad mom, and that the only thing that can be predicted with a preschooler is that the preschooler will be utterly unpredictable. She loves her grandkids so much and loves to love on them. Her grandkids sense that love and return it wholeheartedly. She's carrying on Memmaw's tradition.


I'm so fortunate to have had such wonderful role models and strong women in my life growing up, showing me every day how to be a good wife and mom, showing me how to love people, showing me how to be a friend, showing me how to be. And she's not just my Mom, she's a mom to so many other people. She doesn't know any other way to be and it's just another of the many many things I love about her.

I think this is literally the first year ever (in my memory anyways) that I haven't been able to see my Mom for Mother's Day (since we're now almost 2000 miles away) but I'll be thinking of her and of Memmaw all weekend. To both of them I say "Happy Mother's Day. I love and I miss you and I can't wait to see you again. Thank you for everything. I couldn't have asked for a better mom and grandmother.".

They were and are both wonderful and I strive every day to make them proud. They are my Mom and my Memmaw. I love them.



  1. Wow! I'm utterly blown away by this eulogy (meaning "good word") and have tears reading it. Thank you so much, Esther! I love you and miss you, too, and hope your Mother's Day is awesome! Thank you for making me "Grandma" to such sweet blessings!

  2. Holy Cow! Was that taken in the fellowship hall downstairs?! That's definitely old school. Nice picture.