I stand staring at the photo, studying it really. Knowing the lady pictured is no more. She moved on to another season of life, her boys and me grown and gone with children of our own. But still a momma bird to an empty nest. Older and wiser, she tells me all the time it will get easier. She says I won’t always feel worn out and constantly behind on housework and laundry. She adds she knows how tough it is to be pulled in so many directions all at once. She remembers life that was ruled by schedules and lack of time for it all. She reminds me what really matters, happy children who know they are loved more than anything. She assures me there will be time later for all these other areas I feel sure I am failing in right now.
Mother’s Day prompted the search for the perfect “throwback” image. May being May, Mother’s Day has come and gone and time marches on. True to what she teaches, there is time… later. The delayed timing of this post gave me the opportunity to pay attention to the details that surrounded my tired Momma all those years ago.
For sure, that hideous wallpaper screams outdated now, but truth be told, I’m sure it was outdated then. And what about those Priscilla curtains? She washed, starched, ironed and hung those things til they finally fell apart. Oh! And how about the clean shine of the table top where she rests? That table, Grandmaw’s table. The layers of paint she chipped away when she decided to refinish it and stain it. Night after night we gathered around it and waited as she got dinner on the table. My little brother perched on the stool, because she had a surprise number three, too. When all were finished she would clear the table, wiping it down once again. On the kitchen counter behind her sits the drying dishes and my Daddy’s lunchbox open and ready for his next work day. There is the little basket of fabric strawberries hung on the wall, a gift to me from an elderly neighbor across the road. My Mom would send me over to visit or she would take the time to visit herself, thoughtfully aware of how lonesome our neighbor might be.
Her farmer’s tanned arms and tanned face and neck laid over on clean towels has convinced me this moment was captured in May, the busiest of months now and probably the busiest of months then. The long awaited Spring arrives and life explodes, baseball and softball in full swing, the end of another school year quickly drawing near. There is no time for the extra (and yet so much extra is on the schedule), and life more than ever is just about living through.
Well, my Mom lived through and daily gives me the confidence needed to know I will live through, too. Mother’s Day was celebrated all over social media with words like “the best”, supportive and selfless. My Mom is all of these things and so much more. With each passing year I have a deeper respect and love for my Mom. One day in May is surely not enough to celebrate all she does for me and my family. As I walk my own road of motherhood I have a greater understanding of how willfully she makes her life about others. And still to the point of exhaustion.
My original idea was to find an imprint of the two of us together. But when I find myself waking up and stumbling from the couch to the bed, it is this vision of my sleeping Momma that gives me comfort; knowing that when it is done right, being a Mom sometimes looks like this. Giving it all you got and putting the needs and wants of others before your own. Is there any greater picture of love than sacrificing for others? So to my Momma, I am grateful for you and the wonderful example you continue to be to me and others.