But just between us sisters, here are the things that I think are the most important things my mom gave me.
1. Her time. It may not be politically correct to say that a mom who chooses to stay home with her kids is giving them something important and wonderful, but I believe it anyway. My mother had a bachelor’s degree in English and one in Elementary Education. She could have gotten a job as a school teacher. She’s a very well-educated woman, especially for her generation.
|My Mother, Patricia Ann Armstrong Mitchell holding me on my blessing day.|
It wasn’t like we were rich. My dad was a coach and a teacher and she became a master economizer. I remember that cheese was a treat. Bread that was NOT homemade was exciting. Yet Mom stayed home. It was never stated and I never questioned it. I truly believed, (and still do) that we children were the center of my mother’s universe. There’s nothing that builds a child’s confidence better than believing that their mother wants to be home for their sake. I knew that she considered being at home for us a high and worthy “job.”
|Mom points out a monkey in a Costa Rican jungle|
2. Her eye for beauty. I’m well into middle age and still, when I see breathtakingly beautiful scenery, or art, or hear beautiful music, I hear my mother exclaiming over it in my head. It is her gift to take delight in this beautiful world. She read great literature to us to give us a taste of /for something she loved.
|Mom with all 7 kids at a (casual) family camp in 2006|
3. Her sense of wonder. I doubt that I’ve ever had a conversation of more than five minutes without her saying “I wonder. . .” (which excludes the possibility of EVER having a conversation without her saying it, since she’s never had a conversation of less than five minutes). She wonders about the scriptures, the universe, people’s motives, people’s thinking, history, eternity, death, birth, politics. She loves to wonder. . .to discern. She needs to work on coming to conclusions, since she tends to cycle through many considerations without letting her thoughts settle. I expect her prime delight in death is finally receiving answers to all of her “wonderings.”
|Pretty as a young woman, beautiful as an old woman.|
4. My mother does hard things if she feels they’re right. I called her the other day and she was a little out of breath. That’s because she’d been running on her stairs for exercise. She’s up to 150 reps. Yes, I mean to say that she runs up and down her stairs 150 times to keep fit and improve her girlish figure. She’s 85 years old! She also has stacks of books she’s reading or planning to read because she wants to know things. She gets worried and nervous every single time she goes to the Missionary Training Center to translate for incoming Spanish speaking missionaries. (They’re there to learn English). But she goes because she feels it’s right. It’s something she can do. It keeps her humble, (she says) and she likes to be needed.
5 My mother gave me the tools to develop faith in my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. She taught me to pray and to walk uprightly. My dad was the bishop of our ward, (the head of a Mormon congregation) for most of my growing up years. He sat in the front of the chapel, sketching on a note pad through meetings, (he told himself that it looked like he was taking notes. . .ha!), while my mom made sure that 7 children behaved in church. But we went every single week. It was never discussed, it was never questioned. It was right and she and my dad wanted to teach us to choose the right. We held family home evening faithfully. I can’t vouch for the quality of our FHE, but we ALWAYS had a treat afterward, and the routine of it created a tradition that has bound my own children to me and now is binding my grandchildren to their parents.
|Mom and Dad with me on my wedding day.|
Thank you Mom, for all you have done for me. I love you. I honor you by trying to give my own children the same joy you have given me, and by living by the principles and righteous traditions you and Dad bequeathed me. Thank you, dear, Angel Mother.