Greeting Cards Don’t Say It All

Mother’s Day comes with a difficult mission: finding a greeting card for your mom that falls somewhere between pure sap (You are the perfect mother in every way on every day, and everything you touch turns to gold….) and a groan-inducing, dog-on-the-front brand of humor. Often I forgo Hallmark, pull out the scrapbook supplies, and forge my own.

Not only does May hold Mother’s Day, it also contains my mom’s birthday. So in honor of May, in honor of moms everywhere, here’s my tribute to my mom:

Ten Really Cool Things About My Mom

1. She let her children be children: Saturdays meant sleeping late and watching cartoons. We did activities like piano lessons and/or sports but we were never overscheduled. Plus, she let us act like goofballs in the car.

2. She cooked yummy, well-balanced meals. Meat, something starchy, and usually something green. We ate a lot of broccoli. It tasted good too. I didn’t see it at the time, but these homemade meals were a gift.

3. She didn’t freak out if the house got messy. And we were good at messy. Playing Barbies meant transforming the entire living room floor into Barbie’s house. Hand towels became carpet to distinguish room from room, and knickknacks were fair game as Barbie’s art deco. Mom let my little brother empty and stack the canned goods from the lazy susan and make these crazy things he dubbed “pigballs” (wadded up toilet paper, dipped in water or occasionally apple juice, and frozen solid, and no, I don’t know where he got the idea or what it all means). When we were a little older, my sister and I spent many Saturdays wrestling my little brother into a dress (sorry Nathan) and shooting commercials or murder mysteries, which really messed up the house, but Mom didn’t seem to mind.

4. She went back to school and gradated with a degree in social work the same year I graduated high school. The older I get the more impressive this gets. Three kids, a husband in full time ministry, and somehow she made it work.

5. She didn’t yell. Okay, I’m sure she did occasionally, but I honestly remember only a few times. And by then, we probably had it coming.

6. She didnt/doesn’t burden her children with unreasonable expectations. I never thought/think “This ___ is never going to be good enough for mom.” This, I’m finding, is a rare blessing.

7. She didn’t do the guilt thing. I don’t recall her saying things like “After all I’ve done for you….” or some other guilt inducing, woe is me mantra.

8. She was committed to my dad. Again, something you take for granted as a kid, but then you grow up and learn what hard work a marriage takes and how your parents’ commitment to each other (or lack thereof) colors your entire life.

9. She let me go on an overseas missions trip for eight weeks, to Budapest Hungary, just after I turned sixteen. Ok, this one boggles my mind. Yes, we’re living in different times now, airport security and international traveling now what it is, but still. I have a thirteen year old and I wonder, in three years, would I be brave enough to let him do that? Which leads into the next one…

10. She entrusted her children to God. This is a hard one for us protective mama bears. But I see now, in her unconditional loving, I won’t-control-you way, mom lived it.

Mom, I have a lot to learn from you. There are no perfect mothers and no perfect daughters and no perfect sons, but I’m thankful to have you as my mom.


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