Mother’s Day in my Heart

I was kind of a toot on my first Mother’s Day.

The expectations I had built up in my heart — never verbalized, of course! – were sky-high. I wanted a new dress to wear to Sunday morning services. I wanted a wrist corsage (that’s right, a wrist corsage). I wanted to win the “newest mother” flower during the worship hour. I wanted a present from my husband, a present from my infant son and a present from my mom. I didn’t want to lift a finger the ENTIRE DAY.

Basically, I just wanted I and all of my contributions to the mothering world to be meditated upon by my entire circle from the first second of Mother’s Day to the very last.

That’s all, though. Nothing more.

Bless it. Needless to say, by ten o’ clock that night, I had crashed and burned into a sad heap of unmet expectations. Even though everyone was lovely to me and I had more than any woman in her right mind could ever dream of, it wasn’t enough.

Because, like a said, toot.

I was a big one.

Thankfully, as the years have gone by and God has gently and consistently pulled me away from myself, I am learning to celebrate Mother’s Day in a much healthier way, and it goes a little something like this…

My husband is off the hook.

My gosh, I KNOW this man loves me, I know he celebrates me, and I know he is thankful for me. Instead of expecting him to give me the moon and grovel at my feet, all before he preaches his Sunday morning sermon, I simply ask for a little time off sometime around Mother’s Day.

And sometimes, “time off” doesn’t always mean I want to be alone and away from my family. It just means that I’m free to do…well, whatever! By myself or with him or with the kids or with my mom or with Netflix.

For instance, last year, on the Friday before Mother’s Day, my mom and I loaded up my girls for a day on the town where we got haircuts, ate out, went shopping and, best of all, laughed and talked and celebrated not just motherhood, but the friendship that can grow between generations of women who are dedicated to one another for life.

That was our Mother’s Day. And it was awesome!!!

Rebekah and Betsie watched movies and ate snacks in the car while my mom and I took turns getting our hair did.

IMG_5765

Next we went to Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, one of those thoughtful places where hungry kids get balls of dough to keep them distracted until the food comes.

IMG_5771

IMG_5775

IMG_5779

#ohhoney

IMG_5784

Now, I have to interrupt this string of pictures to tell you a crazy story. See right over there below that American flag? And see the exit on the left side of the room? And see the booth right before you get to that exit?…

IMG_5788

I’m talkin’ about the area right beyond the lady in red…

IMG_5795

Yeah, so Ed Sheeran was sitting there, eating pizza.

We didn’t KNOW it was Ed Sheeran, at the time.

We noticed that he LOOKED like Ed Sheeran, and my mom might have even verbally pitied him for trying SO HARD to look like Ed Sheeran, but we never DREAMED it was actually ED SHEERAN.

Because…why would Ed Sheeran be eating six tables down from us at a pizzeria in Tulsa on a Friday afternoon??? The idea never even crossed our minds because it made absolutely zero sense.

Even though some of the staff were taking selfies with him.

But…

IT WAS TOTALLY ED SHEERAN.

He was apparently in Tulsa for a concert, and one of our friends who attended it said he actually mentioned Andolini’s Pizzeria during the show.

But he didn’t mention us.

Because he didn’t know we were there because we didn’t know he was there.

Nope, the only guy WE saw was a desperate Ed Sheeran look-alike. And the staff was taking pictures with him because he looked SO MUCH like Ed Sheeran that it was hilarious.

IMG_5796

I intently examined all of my pictures from the day and, sadly, there wasn’t one Ed Sheeran photobomb. Not a speck of red hair in the background.

Oh, well.

I did decide, however, that Betsie makes a great city girl.

IMG_5808

After Andolini’s, we popped down the street for some tiny desserts from Le Madeleine, heavy on the chocolate.

IMG_5817

And then we shopped our feet off!! It was an unscripted and lovely day — not a greeting card in sight! Not an expectation in my brain!! — but it was the BEST Mother’s Day experience I could possibly ask for.

Not because the world stopped for a day and recognized me.

Not because my husband sweated bullets trying to make sure he read my mind and gave me all the stuff I wanted.

Not because my children took a moment to thank me and read me a poem.

But because I was with the people I loved.

That’s what Mother’s Day should be about.

With the help of the Spirit, I don’t ever want Mother’s Day to be about ME again, because I am starting to learn that, without fail, when things become about “me”, they go downhill really, really fast.

If my kids want to do something for me someday, hooray, if my husband orchestrates a breakfast-in-bed, yippee, but God forbid that I ever end another Mother’s Day in that heap of misery again, not when I have living and loving to do with the very gifts that made me a mother in the first place.

So. That was Friday, but my “Mother’s Day” weekend continued to be sweet and fulfilling, solidifying lessons in my heart that had been a long-time coming. .

On Saturday night, even though they’d already had their church baths, the kids and I wound up outside in the street. Mr. Gore had called from the church (where he had gone to fix the computer) to tell us there was a brilliant rainbow in the sky.

Well, because of all the trees in our driveway, we couldn’t see it.

So we walked out into the street.

We still couldn’t see it, but after days of heavy rain, the lightning and thunder finally allowed us outside, and what was left were little rivers cascading down both sides of our street.

It was irresistible, and before I knew it, the kids were DRENCHED.

Cheeks flushed, eyes dancing, bodies jumping and running and kicking, their childhood was on full display, and I, the mother who, eight years ago, threw a hissy fit because Mother’s Day was not what I thought it should be, was absolutely at rest. I’d had more than enough to call it a successful holiday, and it wasn’t even Mother’s Day yet!

This was sincerely all the gift I needed.

IMG_5841

IMG_5856

IMG_5898

IMG_5918

IMG_5952

IMG_5966

IMG_5974

Listen, one thing the internet has taught me is that Mother’s Day is an awful day for a lot of people. People who have lost their moms, people who have terrible memories of their mom, people who want to have babies but haven’t succeeded, people who have suffered miscarriages of their precious children, people who aren’t married yet and feel like the clock is ticking, ticking, ticking…

this holiday, for so many of the people we love, is the absolute pits.

So much that it makes me wonder if I even LIKE this holiday anymore!…

But at the very least, I am just more and more convinced that, if God has woven motherhood into my story, I have more than I could ask for, period. I don’t need to be recognized at church, I don’t need to be pampered, I don’t need to become a Mother’s Day tyrant, I don’t even need all the gifts and all the thoughtfulness.

In other words, I don’t so much need to be celebrated…

I need to CELEBRATE.

Lucky for all of us, the only necessity for that is a grateful heart.

No corsages needed.

~

p.s. Great news! Late that Sunday night, the kids and Mr. Gore DID surprise me with an at-home pedicure and manicure that they ALL took turns administering. It was like a hilarious nightmare, all the way down to the box of polish they all chose together at Amazon, titled “Jingle Splash”. Happy Mother’s Day to me?…

11203587_926502410736034_7105237208827573667_o

A Messy Mother’s Day to You!

When I went to bed last night, the kitchen was spotless.

When I woke up today…

That can only mean one thing.

Mother’s Day.

When menfolk and children invade our kitchens, the messes can be awfully big.

But then, so can the surprises.

And without that huge mess, we’d never know how much work it took to grow a flower-and-bacon pancake!

Mr. Gore, you have outdone yourself. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

~

Whether you are a Mama, a Grandmother, an Aunt, a teacher, or a spiritual mentor, this is your day. The work you do is so important, and the lives you touch have been forever changed. If I could make you a flower-and-bacon pancake, I certainly would!

Happy Mother’s Day, from Mrs. Gore!

I Remember Granny.

The most random things trigger my memories of her…

Honeysuckle. Carpet sweepers. Aluminum cans. Old McDonald. Funyuns.

Muumuus. Rouge. Iced Oatmeal cookies. Daffodils. The American flag.

Willie Nelson. Linoleum. Pretty rocks. Ceramic frogs. Whistling….

Her official name was Willie Belle Rouk. Her friends called her Billie.

I called her Granny.

As a young child and then a self-absorbed teenager, I had no concept of who she was or what she contributed to my life or how much she loved me, even, until I began having children of my own. But I was at home in her home, and for an incredibly shy and timid homebody who spent the first 10 or so years of my life clinging to my Mother’s skirt, that was saying a lot.

I innocently and thoughtlessly enjoyed the blessing of being her granddaughter, eating her food, playing in her yard, running errands alongside her… and now that I am finally cognizant enough to express my gratitude and to grasp what an amazing woman she was, she is long gone, taken from our lives unexpectedly a decade and a half ago as her heart silently stopped in her sleep.

But I can still thank her. I can still honor her. And this Mother’s Day, as a tribute to her and to my own Mother and my beloved Aunt B, I want to tell you about her, even as I know my childish memories of her will do nothing to truly capture who she was and what mark she left upon this earth.

Long before the organic movement began, when Twinkies were in their hayday and preservatives were considered awesome, my Granny’s house was the place to be. My Mom was a homemaker, but when I began kindergarten, she went back to college, and I began spending half-days with Granny until Mama could pick me and my brothers up after school. Granny’s kitchen was always stocked with the goods: “Sodey-water” (pop), Iced Oatmeal Cookies, those round cookies that were dipped in chocolate on one side and striped with chocolate on the other, Ding Dongs, wafer cookies, tins of shortbread cookies…

And that was just the store-bought stuff. She was an amazing cook, and our entire family gathered in her tiny house more often than not to eat Sunday lunch or to celebrate birthdays or holidays. When we weren’t at our house, we were at her house, and the food was always hot and delicious and plentiful.

But I especially loved my time alone with her. It struck me a couple of weeks ago that, as much time as we spent there, I don’t remember her having one toy for us to play with. But I was never bored. Granny and I would go driving around town and the country highways looking for pretty rocks to take home or aluminum cans to sell. We would go walking down her block, stopping to look at the chickens down the street or to say ‘hello’ to her neighbors. We would sit in the swing in her yard or the glider on her porch or the chairs under her awning and sing “Old McDonald” and watch the world go by. We would hang her clothes on the clothesline, Granny panties and all. We would sweep – OH would we sweep! – her porch and her sidewalk at least once a day. And nearly everyday after my morning school was adjourned we would go to the store, buy applesauce and Funyuns for my lunch, and go back to her house where I would eat on a TV tray and watch Matlock with her and Papa.

There were other shows at other times…The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, Quantum Leap, Hee-Haw, Austin City Limits…we spent a lot of time in her small living room watching shows together. I sat Indian style on the blue couch next to the wall, my Papa sat in his recliner facing the TV and Granny sat in her chair next to his, seperated by a small path into the living room.

Their house layout was a circle – the kitchen went into the living room that went into the guest room that went into the bathroom that went into Granny and Papa’s room that went into the kitchen – and I would walk laps with my Papa as he did his daily exercise, toting his oxygen tank with him. I made it my goal to pass by him as many times as I could, the old floors of their house shaking under my feet. He was walking for his life; I was finding something quite fun to do, and I think we both enjoyed it very much.

When my brothers came home from school or football practice, many of their friends came with them, sitting around Granny’s table, eating snacks, having unlimited Sodey-waters. They were at home there, too, and that’s why so many people in our town simply knew her as “Granny”. She was their’s, too, and it made us proud to share our precious belonging with the world and to see how comfortable our friends were in her presence.

It didn’t hurt that she lived right across from the football field. We would go to her house early on Friday nights to claim a good parking space and eventually meander over to watch the games. But when the winter set in and the cold was too much for us to bear we would steal back across the street to warm up at her house. Walking into her heated living room on those frigid nights is a vivid memory for me that seems to span many, many years – my child-sized glasses would immediately fog over and soon, a mug of hot chocolate would be in my hands and my fingers would burn and tingle as they thawed out under the heat.

Likewise, I remember coming in on unbearably hot summer days and sitting directly in front of the window unit in the kitchen, the deliciously cold air blowing my sweaty hair away from my face. We would talk into it and sound like robots and had soon forgotten how hot it was outside and perhaps in the rest of the house.

Granny’s house was always spotless, but she was a true lover of junk, and her house was crammed full of knick-knacks with a heavy emphasis on ceramic frogs. My favorite was one that plead my emphazemia-burdened Papa’s case, a frog with a top hat bearing a sign that said “Please don’t smoke. I might croak.”

Yes, so many things come to my mind when I think about Granny…the newspaper clippings and pressed flowers stuffed into her big Bible, her tiny closet with a dozen or so dresses hanging tidily on a hook, her rather terrifying driving, her dog named Sweetie, her chenille bedspreads, her Avon purchases, her fabric-covered box of costume jewelry, her always-stocked cookie jar, her pew at church, her occasional slipping of wind or soft profanity (always followed by a quick “whoops!”), her red pick-up with the customized plate reading “Go, Granny, Go!”…

But with all my memories of her, and all the hilariously funny stories we still tell about her  today (I promise I’ll share them someday), my single favorite thing about her is the woman she was that flows so fluidly and beautifully into the women she made.

Even if I had no memories of her at all, I would need only to look at my Mother and my Aunt B to see that Granny was an amazing woman, worthy of praise and honor, for she bore and raised two of the most industrious and gentle women I’ve ever met. Compassionate, humorous (lots of times on accident, sometimes on purpose), hard-working, talented, self-sacrificing, dutiful, faithful, patriotic, and brimming with love for their family. Just like Granny, they hop to it all day long, living for the ones God has given them to. They pour themselves out for us, just like she did for them…just like I hope to do for my own children.

It is a beautiful thing to be cradled for life by women who nurture and unconditionally love you; in their presence, you feel 100% adored, and completely at rest. The minute you cross the threshold into their home, your heart sighs and you don’t need any distractions (or toys!) to keep you happy. You’re with the women who know you. You’re home.

On this Mother’s Day, I will be thinking of Granny, missing her, wishing my husband and my children could have known her…

But the women who knew her best, who grew up under her ministrations and learned by her hand, are still with me, carrying her best characteristics, and passing them on to me and to my daughters.

In them both, I see her.

It’s no wonder I remember Granny so well.