Honoring my Mother

Well, in case you missed it, I was invited to give a 5-minute (re- and re-emphasized: Five-minute) talk about my mom at her church today. Mother’s Day.

I called the pastor to clarify his goals and was able to organize the following talk. It was really hard to begin, looking right at her and knowing how she dislikes being the focus, but once I started in with the actual words of the poem I was in control of my voice for the most part. Though I did have to pause a few times.

I’m here today to honor you.

I’m blessed to have this poem apply to my husband and dad, too, but this morning it’s for my mom:

These words are from the poem, “Love” by Roy Croft.

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

[And then I must change it a bit to say,]

You have done it
With a touch,
With a word,

You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

© Roy Croft (1907 – 1973).

I am proud to say my mother is my friend, and I hope she is too. Beginning when I was young, my mother’s availability, acceptance, and ability to challenge me, shaped my assumptions of how friends take care of each other.

When I was my youngest I’m sure I took it for granted that she’d always be around and come whenever I yelled. Those early years established without question my mom’s availability for me.

I always knew—even through college, and even now that I’ve been married more than 7 years, that she is there, to share in the smallest celebration or help process the biggest problem.

I have always been someone who processes by putting out words.

In high school I still thought I hated to write, so that only left talking.

And she let me talk.

I would start with muddled thoughts and emotions like a messy wad of yarn, and I would talk until everything was pulled out into a nice, tidy, nonthreatening, line.

I could do this with my mom because I could trust that she would still accept me, even knowing exactly what was going on in my head.

She didn’t just let me ramble endlessly. She encouraged wailing and gnashing of teeth to come to an end and find a purpose, and in this she trained me to move through whatever junk I was dealing with, rather than stewing in it.

She challenged me to change my thinking, to be better than I was.

I know a tall woman who as she grew became self-conscious of her height and began stooping.

Because my mother– my most constant companion– encouraged me to grow, and stretch myself, I never felt the need to stoop, and among my peers I quickly outgrew the idea I had to hunker down to fit into someone else’s box.

I was going to stand tall. I knew I could, and I knew how, because I had watched my mom.

I am incredibly thankful for a mom that modeled an availability and acceptance that left me with a deep sense security, along with choosing to challenge me.

Growing up I took a great deal of pride in knowing I was so important to her.

Today, like it says in Proverbs, I “rise up and call her blessed,” because she poured her life into me.

And I recognize the privilege I have to be her daughter, and call her friend.

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