Well, it’s July 6th, but I’ve been busy busy busy and so I am only on Day 2 of Suzie Speaks’ Daily Gratitude Challenge. Please don’t ask me what I’ve been busy doing, because I haven’t actually been busy. Yes, I lied. I lie and swear. A lot. Which is ironic, because just the other day I asked my daughter why she lied. Must be an apple – tree thing. I didn’t think you were supposed to become your mother until after you became a dult.
Although Suzie said that “you don’t have to participate every day,” I am using her challenge as a way to spark my creativity. I have also decided to take on the Write Without The Fight’s 5-Day Challenge. I’m hoping that something works since the stress of the past few months have melted my brain and killed my creativity. I should be used to stress by now – the past few years have been a wild rollercoaster of ups and downs. It’s a good thing I like rollercoasters.
But I digress. Today is all about Day 2: What about you makes you special? Hmmmm….that’s a tough one. The only thing that comes to mind is my brother teasing me that I was “special in a short bus sort of way.” My family’s sense of humor is quick and
kind of mean. Life in my house was like swimming with sharks – you had to be fast, or you’d be dead meat.
TBH, not everyone in our house was mean. My dad, my brother and I would snip at and pick on each other mercilessly, but my mom was always there when a comment hit too close to home. She was there to dry my tears and remind me that “they were only teasing.” (IMO “teasing” is just a way to say something really hurtful without getting into trouble for it).
My mother was my hero. I wish I’d had a chance to tell her how special she was. Of course, I didn’t always think she was a hero. As a teenager I thought she talked too much and laughed too loudly. I was embarrassed by the fact that she volunteered for EVERYTHING and talked to strangers. She drank too much and cried when her friends were struggling. “Why are YOU crying, it’s HER dog that died.” (Yeah. teenagers are assholes). It’s only since I became an accidental mother that I can appreciate how amazing she was.
She kept a spotless house. Yes, she was a “stay-at-home mother”, but she volunteered for everything and was rarely at home, and she lived with three people who treated her like the maid. The fact that I would take 5 outfits into the bathroom, pick one out and throw the others in the laundry hamper meant that the washing machine was always going. Shoes and books and backpacks were tossed on the counter. Toys were left all over the house and we were always stomping through the house after playing in mud puddles. I’ve learned that it’s hard to keep a house clean when you’re cleaning up after yourself, and 2-3 other people.
She was an amazing cook. She didn’t cook gourmet meals – she cooked comfort foods. Pot pies and chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and fried green tomatoes (yes she was a southern girl, why do you ask?) and everything finished cooking at exactly the same time and came to the table hot and delicious. And, oh yeah, she didn’t need a recipe. I have her “recipe cards.” She would write down a list of ingredients, without measurements and (occasionally) and oven temperature without cooking time. Her “recipe cards” are basically shopping lists.
Her door was always open. Literally. Granted, it was a long time ago/things were different back then, but the front door was open and the screen door unlocked. Our refrigerator was stocked with snacks and beverages for our friends (Well, maybe not beverages. We drank from the hose when we got thirsty). She hosted dozens of holiday dinners for friends whose families lived across the country.
At her memorial service, I spoke about the fact that my mother struggled with self confidence – that she thought that she was “nothing special/just a housewife.” She was wrong. She was special because she was kind when others were not. She was loving when others turned their backs (she “adopted” my best friend when Kathy’s parents threw her out for marrying an African-American man). She was strong when others were weakened by illness or grief. She taught me important life lessons:
- to be kind to everyone you meet.
- that there is no such thing as a stranger, just “friends you haven’t yet met.”
- the importance of family (both of blood and of heart”
- the value of shared grief (grief shared is grief halved)
- and the value of shared joy (joy shared is joy doubled)
- the importance of keeping a secret
- and the destructive power of gossip
- when to speak up
- and when to keep quiet
- to respect others – that I didn’t have to agree with them, but that everyone is entitled to their own opinion
But wait, I hear you say* “Day 2’s challenge is what makes you special.” I know that. What makes me special? I am becoming my mother, despite my best intentions. It used to irritate me, but I am beginning to recognize it as a blessing. My mother was more special than she knew. As I said before, she was a superhero – the only thing that was missing was her cape. I am my mother and my daughter’s becoming me, and that’s something to be grateful for.
*I CAN hear you, you know – I’m psychic. Or psychotic. I can never remember which.
I was looking for an image for my Featured Image, and came across a whole slew of “I am special” songs for kids on YouTube. This is my favorite by far