then I loved my mother more

I have always loved my mother. Of course we had our moments where we fought like sisters and Dad would have to tell us to each go to our rooms – hello, high school – but I have always loved my mom. Respected her. Thanked God for her because I knew she was something special. I grew up, got married, and she became my best friend.

Then I got pregnant.

Then I was in labor for hours and hours and pushed for what felt like eternity.

Then I brought our baby girl home and struggled through the ups and downs of those first few weeks with a tiny human to care for around the clock.

Then I loved my mother more.

I related to her in a new way – through the lens of a tired, joyful, overwhelmed young mama who for the first time appreciated the woman who years ago had prayed for God to allow her to keep this baby after so much loss. My mother – who was told by doctors her baby would be born with too may birth defects and should be aborted. Who, along with her husband, prayed feverishly in secret for the remainder of her pregnancy for a healthy baby girl with all of her fingers and toes. A woman who was in labor for hours and hours and cried happy tears when her baby was laid on her chest, perfectly healthy.

When I was in labor, my sweet husband stood beside me and my mom often came to my other side to check on me. To cheer me on. Once our baby girl arrived and family was allowed in the room she came right to my side, checking on me first before delicately holding our baby tightly in her arms. Beaming from ear to ear. Of all the major life moments we had shared, this was the most profound. She had birthed me, and now helped me to give birth to my own baby girl. Different years, different hospital rooms, same love.

After we came home from the hospital, Mom stayed with us for a week, easily one of the most special times in my life. I cried the afternoon she drove away, thinking of her in a new light. How she was once a brand new mom with a brand new baby that she had prayed for and fought for. How she once woke up with me on the hour every hour to nurse me back to sleep and then watched me to make sure I was still breathing. How she leaned on her husband, my dad, for support and encouragement when the mom thing was new and scary and exciting. I thought of my mom, now a Nana, and for the first time I started to understand the gravity and intricate joy, and pain, of motherhood.

How could I love her more?, I thought. But somehow, I did.

I’ll love you forever, Mom.

All the Things My Mom Got Right

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I love my mother dearly, this is true, but of course there were those super fun teenage years where I didn’t always like her so much. She didn’t know anything. She used to say to me all the time,”I hope I live to see you with your own daughter.” That is exactly why I felt a itty bitty flicker of panic when it finally set in I’ll have a daughter of my own soon. Now yes, I was young and eventually grew up enough to realize my mom does know everything. She always has. She’s the most important woman in my life. I love her and I like her and I’m so thankful to have her in my life in such a major way. As I think about how I’ll have my own baby girl come September my mind wanders to all the ways Mom got it right. From the big moments to the smallest gestures she shaped me into me through just being her, and I want to be that shining light to Annie. I want to get it right. I could list far more but here are my top fifteen:

She was my stage mom with a level head

She taught me how to love the Lord above all else

She didn’t allow me to pierce my ears until age 12 (and then walked around the mall with me for a solid 20 minutes since I was so nervous I almost threw up)

She let me be myself

She showed me what a loving wife looks like

She taught me you’re never full dressed without mascara and a little lip color

She let me cry it out when I needed to and pushed me to get over it when I needed to

She laughed a lot and taught us to not take ourselves too seriously

She picked her battles and didn’t disown me after I ruined her antique coffee table with nail polish remover

She never allowed me to disrespect her

She never missed a practice, game, school presentation, show or event

She showed me how to be a real preacher’s wife

She never allowed me to quit anything

She spoke the truth even when it hurt

She sacrificed for me and loved me unconditionally

Mom, Thank You

20150508_153134When I was in high school I found a drawer of old pictures in my parents’ formal living room and in that drawer was a box full of pictures from my mom’s high school years. I looked through every one – Mom and her prom date, Mom as a cheerleader at the top of the pyramid, Mom’s senior pictures, and eventually Mom with dad on her parent’s couch. I laughed at all the polyester and the business suit she wore on a couple dates but I mostly focused on a picture of Mom in her cheer uniform. Naturally, we had just had quite the disagreement the day before about the length of my cheerleading skirt. Some of the girls were sporting very short skirts and because I was an insecure 16 yr. old I thought I needed one too…that’s another post for another day. I didn’t understand why she didn’t get it – she had been a cheerleader after all! I believe I ended the conversation with something along the lines of, “you’re ruining my life and you don’t understand anything.”

Fast forward a few years and here I am, looking at the same picture of my mom in her cheer uniform. No longer am I thinking up ways to convince her that it’s okay if I wear one; instead, I’m thinking how beautiful she was then and how not much has changed…definitely not the hair or the sparkle in her eyes! One of the neatest things about growing up is getting to know your parents as real people and becoming friends. I am so thankful for a mother that loves God more than anything, adores my dad today more than the day she married him, and loves others more than herself. She’s the one who taught me how to throw a good party – whether it’s for two or two hundred! – and encourages me to “suck it up” and “remember whose you are” on a daily basis. She held my hand when I broke my ankle, gave me confidence when I had lost mine, and cried in the church pew on my wedding day. Did I mention she orchestrated every detail of my wedding day? That’s the kind of superwoman my mom is.

Mom, thanks for putting up with 16 year old me and loving like crazy despite my not-so-stellar attitude. Aren’t you glad I grew up and realized I don’t know everything? You’re the kind of wise I hope to become, and I’m so blessed to have you in my life. Lord willing, I hope to be half the mother you are one day and laugh as my daughter looks through pictures of me from my high school days.

Everybody, if you’re blessed enough to still have your mom here on this earth, call her. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call. Go a little Danny Tanner a la Full House and tell her how much you appreciate her for so many reasons. And maybe, like me, apologize for how you were at 16. xo

Links I’m Loving

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1. Beauty advice for my daughter. (cupcakesandcashmere.com)

2. Pretty presents for mom, just in time for Mother’s Day. (glamour.com)

3. 20 things nobody tells you when you graduate college. (time.com)

4. Finally, some cards that say what your friend with cancer really wants to hear. (today.com)

5. Check out the most Googled baby names in each state. Did your name make the cut? (hellogiggles.com)

6. How bad is it to fall asleep without brushing your teeth? Spoiler alert: BAD. (askthedentist.com)

6.  Interesting thoughts on the real point of prayer. (relevantmagazine.com)

My Tattoo & Other Reasons My Mom Loves Me

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To know my mother is to love her, and while we’ve had our fair share of growing pains and yelling matches – I’m sure Kate and Goldie had plenty! – I love her beyond words. I don’t know if it’s becoming an adult (well, sort of) or the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday but I wanted to pass the mic to Cathy to share a little insight on being my mom. My only regret is that I didn’t record these so you lovely people could listen to her responses in that Southern drawl we all love and affectionally try to imitate…

B: What did you say when you found out you were pregnant with me?

C: I was so shocked….20 tests later.  I couldn’t wait to tell your father because we had waiting 2 1/2 years for that day!

B: Initial thoughts once I arrived?

C: When you were born, I kept thinking someone was going to come and get you.  I couldn’t believe you were mine and I really wasn’t sure what to do with you.

B: Hardest age to love me?

C: It’s never been hard to love you…now liking you was hard at times from about puberty to a few years ago…HA!

B: Did you absolutely hate when I would constantly remind you how old I was when I wanted to do something my own way? Example: “I know I’m 17, Mom.” 

C: We became very weary with the phrase ” I’m 18 and I can take care of myself!” It quickly moved onto age 19, 20… it reminded me when you were two and would stand and pout and say “NO” or “I do it by myself !”

B: Last time you wanted to kill me?

C: I guess the last time you mouthed back at me at church in front of the sweet little church lady, Mrs. Johnson. I think we were discussing the lack of length in your choice of skirts or it could have been the scoop of your neckline. *B: I have zero recollection of this.

B: Your thoughts when I got a tattoo?

C: I ate crow real fast, because a group of middle-aged moms had just discussed this topic the night before and I had made the statement that my daughter “would never” because she hated pain.  Well, never say never.  All I could think was that my beautiful daughter was now branded with a dirty looking expression of independence.

B: When did you realize I wasn’t a complete moron?

C: I have never thought you were a moron but your father and I did think you had been kidnapped by aliens at around age 16.  It has been nice to see you grow over the past few years and your about face in attitude, awareness of others needs, and depth of thought has been so wonderful.

B: How did I end with blonde hair and blue eyes? 

C: When you were born with blonde hair and blue eyes I was taken back a bit because your father and I have such dark hair and eyes.  However, I quickly learned that your great grandparents on both sides sported cool blue eyes and they had passed this beauty onto you.  As you grew and your hair darkened some it was clear that your personality needed the blonde hair to support itself..( remember the German Shepherd story) …so your stylist will be able to send her children to college with your highlight bills through the years.  That look perfects you!  *B: I will never tell the German Shepherd story – sorry I’m not sorry. 

B: Describe being a mom in one sentence.

C: The hardest job on earth with the greatest return!  Being completely absorbed in a precious soul 24/7 until death – you knew I had to get death in there…

B: Your most fun memory of us to date?

C: It’s hard to think of just one…I love all the fun things we share and am looking forward to many more!  One of my fondest memories is you singing at the top of your voice – up and down the aisles at Wall-Mart from the buggy.  You were about age 4 and people would stop to hear you and get onto me for trying to get you to sit down and sing quietly.

B: What do you most look forward to in our mother/daughter future?

C: Watching you become a mommy one day and being able to laugh as your little clones renact your childhood follies.  Also, I hope we can travel some together!

I’ll love you forever and always, Mom.

XOXO,

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