Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Mom's Encouraging Words

When you are a kid you don’t realize what a daunting task parenting is. Even as an expectant parent you have no clue what to anticipate. You may have baby sat for hours, read child development and parenting books, and baby-proofed the home, but no one tells you that these little people come into your life with personalities all their own and usually in direct opposition to your own.

I guess what got me thinking about this was a picture that popped up on my Facebook memories from a few years ago. In honor of Mother’s Day I had posted a picture of three-year-old me with a broken leg sitting on my mom’s lap as she adorned a classic late sixties beehive hairdo. Much older, I now stared into the eyes of the sometimes mischievous, demanding, know-it-all child and thought about how hard it would have been to be my mother. In this day and time, most people look back to their childhoods, and they are quick to point out what was done wrong on the parenting side of the relationship without considering the other side.

You see my perfect-looking mommy was only eighteen years my senior, making her about twenty-one at the time. I’m sure she had never anticipated taking her child to the hospital to get her leg set after my grandmother fell on me breaking it. I remember her being there as they set my leg. I remember her trying to make me comfortable in an itchy, hot, cast in the southern summertime before everyone had air conditioning.

I remember picking mulberries from the tree beside our house, playing in the sandbox, and walking to the corner store to buy Bugles— all things done when it was just the two of us.

I remember her making me banana sandwiches, her combing the tangles out of my curly hair, and her making me wear itchy, frilly dresses. I remember her reading books to me over and over again. I guess more importantly, I remember her saying, “You are smart like your daddy. You will do well in school.” I didn’t realize how much of a difference her words would make until I saw the movie, “The Help.”

I was moved to tears in the theatre as I made the connection. The maid, Aibileen, tells the little girl time and again, “You is kind. You is smart, You is important.” As everyone else wiped a tear over the encouragement of the young girl, I sat thanking my mother for her shaping words.

Her words made a difference. I may be above some in intelligence, but I do know there are plenty that can outdo me in that area— that wasn’t the point. I can attest that there have been those times in my academic career and in life where I felt stretched beyond my ability, and I would hear her telling a very young me that I was smart and could do it. I used her words to push me beyond where I might have been tempted to stop.

This Mother’s Day I want to say thank you to my mother for her encouragement, and I also want to remind all those mothers out there how much power is conveyed in your words. I know in my own mothering I said many words I wish I could take back, plenty I would change, and some I held onto and never released. Instead of dwelling on a past we might have lived better, we can focus on today. We still have breath. I’m going to use mine this week to breathe life into my grown children with words of encouragement and give thanks to my encourager, my mom.  

1 comment:

  1. Inspiring words of wisdom and encouragement. Happy Mother's Day!


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