Category Archives: mothers

knowing my mother

  

painting easter blocks

painting easter blocks

  Sunday morning is here. I have a bit of a “to do” list – a fun one – try out green smoothie recipes and paint a couple of Easter Blocks, but it seems I am drawn here to this page. I think of different things on Sunday than I do during the other days of the week. I suppose my “system” has throttled down a bit by now and I am in this more tranquil zone and I suppose that is exactly why I find myself here writing/posting.

 

I posted a picture of my dad and me from the 50s yesterday. It came from an old family album and this morning I went to put the album away and found another picture, one of my grandmother, my mother and me. I suppose, like many things, I have seen this photo many times, but today it was as though it were the first time. At three – which is how old I was in the picture, you are not really aware of your mother’s life, you are still very narcissistic and your mother is just the person who sees about you, you don’t see her as really having a life; she is just there for you, right? Well, I look at this picture of my mother and realize she was just 25 years old, still so young and so beautiful and I wonder now what was her life like then, what were her dreams, who were her friends, where did she go, what were her and her mother talking about and I bet they were speaking in French?

 

111 beech st., ville platte, la 1957

111 beech st., ville platte, la 1957

 

I only know her in relationship to “me”. I suppose that is the miracle, the beauty of motherhood; mothers are custom made for their children and each child builds that unique relationship with their mother. I have talked to my brother and sister a lot about “our” mother and we each have a “different” mother even though she is one in the same. Anyway, just a narcissistic post I suppose but I felt like asking myself a few questions and then thinking a bit about that day 55 years ago while still trying to know her.

 

On a side note and one of humor, I posted the back of the photograph – it was developed in New Orleans Louisiana in 1597! Oops I think they meant 1957 – gotta love life before digital huh?

1597?

1597?

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"How did that happen?"

Life is very different for me now. I wake up on a Saturday morning and I am not scrambling a dozen eggs and juicing OJ; I am making coffee and writing. They are gone, far away gone, from Colorado to the Cresent City. Elizabeth is still here, finishing up the last hoorah but on this Saturday morning she is in Lafayette taking SAT – something she needs to move her on. “On”, will be far away too, it seems. Next year, they really will be all gone. Hmmmm. It is a strange, but good, feeling, kind of mellow.
 The first thing I ask myself on this morning of semi isolation is “How did I do that?” I cannot conceive of waking up to five kids every morning and getting this house in motion. It seems my instinct of survival has blocked that from my memory – too much to absorb, too much to think about? Funny about life, we go through passages almost blindly, doing what we need to do without question and then later, look back and say just what I have said, “ How did I get through that?’ I am not making this declaration in a negative light, it was great, it was magical, it was fulfilling; I just don’t know how I managed to see about all of those people.I’m really not a multi tasker kind of person – I am very, very laid back. I do remember cooking – alot. I also remember the seemingly endless pile of clothes in the laundry room.Honestly, I thought I would live my entire life in that room – forever!  And I do remember the conscious decision to put away my paintbox for those years. I realized early on that that would cause me frustration – to begin a piece and have to go deep into the night to finish it – not worth it. Instead, I think those years and my children gave me inspiration and I think they will manifest themselves in my art – it was the right decision for me.

Anyway, it is early November and I have the day to do as I please – this is a very new deal for me. I am going to enjoy this little piece of freedom for sure but I will always miss my busy home when they all were here and my day was filled with the most important activity of all, being “mom”.

I think of a quote by Jackie Kennedy and hope that I somewhat hit the target, but more than that, I hope they all know I tried my best on that one chance I got ,  just as all of you are…

” If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”
just a favorite pic taken on the 100 year old carousel at City Park in New Orleans  – a month before Elizabeth lost her grandmother, my wonderful mom. She was there on the little bench watching Elizabeth go around and around, each time waving as though the first time – this was a very difficult passage for me as “mom”…still is

 

So, whatever your stage in life is, I hope you are trying your best – no one is perfect, but everyone can be the best “them” (most of the time :)).
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heart tugs

I perused over my FB page this morning and noticed the great amount of graduation snapshots and moments. It made me think of a newspaper column I did when my twins graduated in 2006. I am posting for you moms – I know how you feel – these moments are truly bittersweet.

May 2006 Daily Iberian

Already, the St. Josephs, and gardenias, and many of the magnolias have bloomed. This passage into spring has been hasty. All year I anticipate the bouquets of sweet smelling gardenia and the lemon, clean scent of our state flower and the promise of spring from the amaryllis. They seem to have come and gone, quickly. I suppose I am too busy, I should take more time to insure my memories of spring, for they must last a year.

All of this bounty and burst of beauty coincides with another passage that is brisk and momentary and brings with it much ambiguity of the heart, graduation. Like spring, you try to hold on and capture each moment and experience each event, but like blossoms, it burst and quickly fades. As festive of an occasion as graduation is, it explodes with sentiment and can make a parent’s heart heavy. While we are very proud of this milestone, letting go is difficult. Even as our graduates are donned in mortarboards and flowing gowns, we find ourselves remembering that sweet kiss on a fat cheek and a little hand that reaches for ours. And we can’t forget that hug around the neck that drew us so close to the smell of childhood. There they are with diploma in hand and full of happiness and fulfillment and here we are still trying to hear the little voice that, seemingly a hundred times a day, asked us “Why”. Listening to the baccalaureate speeches and witnessing the final moments of the class of 2006 physically being together, we search for the little one that we might gather up and rock until worries are gone and peaceful sleep lies on their face, we try to find the tiny laugh that comes from the core of their being and touches the heart of ours. Through soppy tears, we will congratulate you and will continue to be there, cheering you on and remembering.
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Broken Glass

I am sitting here trying to put words on this page that come out positive but for some reason, I am in some kind of negative spot. It all started with a mirror, a mirror I broke yesterday. It was my mother’s. It had sat on her dresser for years, a dime store kind of round mirror that magnified on one side and looked normal on the other. Somehow, and I don’t know how, it ended up on Elizabeth’s vanity without my knowledge until this past week, it was the little mirror that showed up in my blog on March 11, my mother’s birthday. It seems Elizabeth had taken a picture of it sitting on her vanity and it was the perfect visual for the entry. Curiously, she had been using it, for quite some time. It was a bit broken from the years of use so I brought it to the “shop” – a place where all the little things go to be fixed by the shop keeper, my husband. So, here is this little mirror that is very old and I didn’t know until just last week that it was even in my house. Anyway, after all of this,   I am, sentimentally attached to it and cherish it. I put the mirror under a basket in my kitchen cabinet where I keep loose recipes so that it can wait in a safe place until my husband could repair it. This is where the negativity happens. The phone rings and it is Elizabeth wanting to know the ingredients to a recipe that is in the basket. “Oh, ok, hold on a minute” – yep, I pulled out the basket and there slid the mirror right onto the brick kitchen floor – shattered. It was awful. This little irreplaceable manifestation of a memory that I just last week discovered I even had and was a physical connection of Elizabeth and her grandmother was gone. Elizabeth was not yet 3 when my mothered died so these things of hers are things I cherish all the more.

 Now for the message; it is something my mother taught me many years ago, and she didn’t even know she was teaching. One day I went for a visit, knocked on the door and walked in. There she was sweeping up broken glass. I asked her what had broken. It was her mother’s glass vase that had been  a wedding gift, one of the very few things she had of her mother’s. This vase had moved with my mother probably 20 times, from Ville Platte to everywhere in south Louisiana. It was about 90 years old and had sat in its last spot for more than 30 years – undisturbed.  On that day, minutes before, she knocked it over while dusting and it shattered as she watched. I, in my naïve age of ignorance concerning these disappointing realities of the universe, was upset for her. She, however, chose not to be – “I just swept it up like it was only glass”. It took years and experience to be able to speak those words – years of learning that “it was only glass” and like all things it had reached its’ end. I have to understand that. At that moment in my life I could not accept the limitedness of things. I thought people and places and things were forever. I had not realized that, up ahead, many components of my life would “go away” and only the memory would endure. She knew that then, she had said good – bye many times by then and she learned how to let it go. Now, I know.  I have drawn from that those few words she spoke incidentally ; they were with me as I swept up the glass.

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Autumn reminders

I’ve been “away” for awhile – I have been doing many housekeeping things and painting like a mad man. And while on my journey, autumn has peeked in. It was my mother’s favorite season and is now, Elizabeth’s favorite. I , on the other hand, have never been able to decide favorite anythings – especially favorite colors and seasons – I love them all equally – they are kinda like people, all unique and making their own  contribution.

 I do think a lot about my mom during this season, however. My thoughts are about food and her kitchen and my boys when they were little and in the woods behind her house. Those first cool snaps caused me to dig for funny little hats to cover tender little ears and warm socks and shoes to spend the day outside in – I can still so easily imagine all of that. I know I must have had some “troubles” during those years but it’s funny how time has taken them away and has left behind only the warmth. Time is indeed a healer of all things. I do miss those days, days when you knew that there was someone  there to watch over you and to guide you – it’s a difficult task losing that, at least in the physical sense.These first days of fall are reminders of those  days of long ago – pleasant reminders. It’s important to me to make these days warm places to visit for someone else later, just as my mother did for me.
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patience

It was a silly thought, no, a simple thought, about something my mother had said years ago – she had a way about interjecting little lessons into everyday conversations without my realizing what she was doing. I must have been listening, perhaps not understanding, but listening because I seem to have a little data base of momisms that surface at the most opportune times. I completely believe that she is orchestrating this for me because once you are someone’s mother, you never quit being that someone’s mother – it’s forever.
Anyway, back to the momism – it was a misty thought about her patience. While she did fun things spontaneously, she held back on making quick moves on important things. She would tell me that she needed time to think about something –  it used to annoy me how patient she could be – I, in my youth, wanted the decision made now, there was no need to “sleep on it” or wait – let’s just do it. Well, as most things she has said, she was right, patience is a virtue – a virtue I work hard to possess – patience with others, patience with myself, but mostly patience with life. Sometimes my ego gets in the way of my spirituality and I get impatient and think things should happen on “my” time – I forget about “God’s time”. I find this especially true when it comes to children – we can quickly map out their lives and make that determination on when they should do all of these things on our list – my mom knew that it didn’t work that way and now I am beginning to understand.
I stumbled upon the “poem” that follows and for whatever reason, this advice to be patient keeps filtering into my life.
When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;
when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.
So long as mists envelop you, be still;
be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists
— as it surely will.
Then act with courage.
Ponca Chief White Eagle
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Go Forward With Courage

umbrellas and mothers

It was an eerie dream – pieces of my past all tumbled together ending with me standing in the rain trying to get my daughter where she needed to be.
The symbolism here is uncanny – me, spending much of my life holding “umbrellas” over my children, stepping in puddles and trying to avoid downpours all the while trying to point them towards the light, to a place where they belong and are flooded in sunshine. I, and all of the moms I know, do this, we “stand out in the rain” and are relentless warriors when our kids are involved. We never stop, no matter how many tears are spilled, disappointments are dealt, frustrations and discouragements converge and sometimes slow us down, but never stop us, only our last breath can do that – my mother told me this when my first child was born: “From the time he takes his first breath until you take your last, he will never leave your mind”.
The moment in the dream was so intense – just a feeling more than a situation. I’m not sure what God was revealing to me – I don’t think it was anything specific but I think it was more of a flash of sustenance and support – telling me that I needed to keep the umbrella handy and that it was my purpose to protect them , to guide them, no matter how big the storm or how powerful the resistance – I knew best, I have the “umbrella” and tired as I might be or doubtful as I must feel, I open it each day because I know each day a little rain will fall somewhere. There will be a voice within me, sometimes whispering ever so faintly, but if I am still and am in spirit, I will hear it – this I am sure of. Well, that is the essence of my dream and this is the manifestation of its message. Thankfully, the sun is shining as I write this but my umbrella is there by the back door.
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