My own super-mom

May 9, 2012
Stay-at-home moms have tremendous pressure to prove themselves somehow. Recent comments by Obama’s friend about a woman who raised five children, ‘never working a day in her life,’ is an old refrain. A woman who is “just” a mother gets no paychecks, no raises, no praises from superiors. There are no annual reviews of her performance. If she were a business owner, she would have her spreadsheet to report on profits.
How does a mother who stays home with her kids know if she’s succeeding? How does she prove that it’s all worth it? I know the answer to that question!
My own mother was a teacher before marrying my dad. But when the first baby came, she stayed home with him. We were never rich, but we lived on the income my father’s teaching, coaching and housebuilding in the summer.
It never once occured to me that my mother might want to go to work outside the home. I believed that we children were the center of her universe. Our successes and triumps were her successes and triumps.
Each day when we came home from school, we called out to her and she would answer. We didn’t necessarily need to see her, but we needed to know that she was there, like checking the pulse to be sure the heart is still beating.
Our mother made all the bread for our family of seven children. We almost never went out to eat, so my mother taught us to help her prepare three meals a day, seven days a week. With a rather meager income, she rationed the more expensive ingredients (like cheese.)  She did laundry every other day and hung it out on the clothesline. We owned a drier, but it was expensive to use and Mom said the sunshine helped to sanitize our clothes and bedding and bleach out stains. No fabric softener can duplicate the scent of clothes dried in the wind.
We raised a garden and learned to enjoy vegetables, (mainly zuchinni) We must have grown some other things, but zuchinni was the dependable crop. If we wanted a baseball bat, we had only to wait a day or two without picking and we’d be all set.
We lived in a house my father built. It stood in the middle of a lovely little valley a few miles from the California coast. The valley was filled with commercial apple orchards and our little one acre lot had about 25 apple trees on it. My mother arranged with our neighbor to trade the fruit from an apple tree for the fruit from one of their plum trees. She had trading partners for apricots and peaches too, so every summer and fall my mother canned a pantry full of fruit and homemade jam,(to go on our homemade bread) Applesauce was our favorite, but it was also the most labor intensive. Some nights she stayed up very late waiting for the fruit to process. I remember her tallying the jars as she arranged them in the pantry. She protected us from hunger.
My mother laughed at our jokes. She praised us for good report cards. She read out loud to us on Sunday afternoons. She kept a large bookcase filled with classic literature and worn-out children’s books in the living room. She never let us watch more than one show on the TV.
My mother didn’t complain about the long hours my father spent in his woodshop or doing church work. He was a Mormon Bishop for most of growing up years. She didn’t complain about the money he spent on lumber and material for his projects. We didn’t buy cheese, but my dad could afford to build a deep sea fishing boat? The Hunky Dory was a success and she was proud of his success. She didn’t gossip.
My mother took us to the beach when our Saturday work was done. She loved play in the surf as much as we did. Sometimes she’d take us to the park instead. She’d read on a bench and never seemed to resent the countless interruptions as we called for her to watch us jump off the swing or climb high on the bars or do any other astonishing feat of courage and prowess.
My mother took us to piano lessons.  She is an accomplished pianist herself, but feared that we would lose our enthusiasm for music if she became impatient, so we had other teachers. (None of us became very good, but several of us delight in good music.)
My mother took us to church every single week. There was never any thought of staying home. Once when my little brother couldn’t find his shoes, he had to come in his stocking feet. (He rather enjoyed the novelty). She read the scriptures every day and told us what she was thinking about or noticing about them often. I’m the only one of her children that didn’t serve a full time mission.
Once all seven of us chicks were fledged, my mother learned to speak Spanish. She renewed her teaching certificate in case my father’s failing health made it necessary for her to teach. She broke her arm playing roller skate basketball with her grandkids. She searved a proscelyting mission for the Mormon church in Costa Rica. She remarried and served a temple mission in Brazil where her husband had once been the mission president. She learned Portugese. She writes skits and poetry. She exercises several times a week. She mows her own huge lawn for the exercise. She wrote her personal history. She regularly holds “cousin dinners” for her grandchildren because she wants them to know eachother well. Sometimes there are over thirty people gathered at her house for those events. She attends football games at BYU. She drives to Cedar City to watch Shakespeare plays. She buys individual gifts for each of her children and children in law and all 43 of her living grandchildren every Christmas and sends birthday cards to all of us, too.
Mom is 82. She goes by Granny now. I see her priorities and personal delights repeated in the next generation and the next and the next. She COULD have been doing many, many other things while we were growing up. But she chose to stay home with us. She paid the price in personal honors

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1 Comment

  • Reply Rob and Marseille May 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    what a wonderful tribute to your Mom!

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