First, I'd like to thank Tami for inviting me to be here today and to share my thoughts about Motherhood, my mom, and the relationship between a mother and daughter.
“A mother is one that can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.”
That statement alone puts in perspective the great responsibility that comes with motherhood.
It will be my most important job one will have in this life. The role of a mother comes with challenges though. It comes with heartache, requires patience, includes guilt and frustration, but brings so much joy. Erma Bombeck describes it perfectly in her piece called “A Mother’s Love”. She said:
“You don’t love me?” How many times have your kids laid that one on you?” And how many times have you resisted the urge to tell them how much? Someday, I’ll tell them:
“I loved you enough to bug you about where you were going, with whom & what time you would get home. I loved you enough to insist you buy a bike with your own money that you could afford. I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover your friend was a creep. I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your bedroom, a job that would have taken me 15 minutes. I loved you enough not to make excuses for your lack of respect or your bad manners. I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall, hurt & fail. I loved you enough to accept you for what you are, not what I wanted you to be. But most of all, I loved you enough to say no when you hated me for it. That was the hardest part of all.”
I think whether we are the mother or the child, we can all relate to Erma Bombeck and agree that the love a mother has for her child is special.
- A MOTHER TEACHES
Many of you have heard the saying “Home is where the mom is.” Again, as if we don’t have enough pressure on us. The word Home conjures up many images for me. All of those images have one common thread - my mom. She was the “constant” throughout my life. Every good memory or lesson I learned as a child included her.
A mother teaches you how to tie your shoe, button your shirt, learn your alphabet, read a book, boil an egg and make grilled cheese sandwich. She tucks you in and helps you fall asleep without letting the bed bugs bite. My mom taught me the MECHANICS OF LIFE.
A mother takes you back to the grocery store when you steal a box of candy, makes you confess to the Reams manager, and then helps you pay for the already eaten candy. My mom taught me the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG.
A mother takes your picture on the first day of school, walks you to your first grade class, and whispers “everything will be okay”. She wakes you up early so you won't miss your ride and won't let you stay home when you aren't really sick. She helps you find your locker in middle school, embarrasses you with a kiss as you start your senior year, and cries the day you leave for college. My mom taught me the VALUE OF EDUCATION.
A mother puts your hair in a bun, drives you to ballet and makes you practice. She signs you up for every community play, church program, or “scholarship” pageant out there. When you roll your eyes she tells you to “Dance Pretty”. My mom taught me the IMPORTANCE OF USING MY TALENTS.
A mother makes job charts, tells you “It’ll be fun” and rewards you will a snow cone. She helps you make a resume, embellishes your accomplishments, drives you to interviews, and irons your Sizzler uniform. She helps you open up a bank account and lets you bounce your first check. My mom taught me the IMPORTANCE OF WORK AND THE VALUE OF MONEY.
A mother slips you gum as you leave to go on a date and waits up to hear if he gave you a goodnight kiss. She giggles when you tell her you have found “the one” for the tenth time, then goes with you to cruise his house, she flickers the front porch light when you’re close to curfew, and listens and validates your heartache. She fixes your veil, says “you’re a beautiful bride”, and gives you a tearful smile as you leave the nest. My mom taught me to EMBRACE TRUE LOVE.
A mother teaches you how to pray, to listen to that still small voice, drags you go to church, helps you build a testimony and reminds you that when she can't be there, Someone always is. My mom ENCOURAGED A RELATIONSHIP WITH MY HEAVENLY FATHER.
I was blessed with an expert mother. She loved being a mom. She embodied the best qualities of all of the best people I know. She was talented, intelligent, and wise. She was always at the crossroads of our lives and interested in what we were doing. She was consistent, fun, generous and selfless. She believed in us, complimented us, and trusted us. She was our biggest fan and loved us unconditionally. She also expected a lot from us and we never wanted to let her down.
May 6, 2008, mom was diagnosed with “stage 4 melanoma”. Two days later, we celebrated Mother’s Day. We wanted it perfect with special gifts and heart-felt letters, one that we would always remember. We wanted her to know just how much we loved her. She just wanted it to be normal.
Two months later, in my mom’s final days, we panicked and she sensed this. Mom wasn’t just part of our lives, she was a part of our day, and our days were about to change. We weren’t sure how we would get through a life time without her. We sat at her feet and tried to memorize and savor every moment.
One day, I told her I was scared that I wouldn’t know how to be a good mom if she wasn’t here to show me. She laughed at my insecurities, reassured me that I would be fine and then offered her best child-rearing advice “Be their BEST FRIEND.”
When my mom passed away, we all spoke at her funeral. Each of us stating that Mom was our best friend and that we each felt we were hers. My brother-in-law said; “Your mom must have done something right, because it’s clear each one of you feels you were her favorite.” My youngest brother was the last to speak. He stood up and the first sentence that came out of his mouth was "I am my best friends mother... "
Of course laughter erupted. My mom would have loved it since she was the queen of mixing up her words. But mom was truly our best friend.
Being the daughter of a great mother is daunting. I had the perfect example, and wanted to do it exactly how I was shown. But although the bond between a mother and her child is special, it is also unique to each individual relationship .
Consider the mother/daughter dynamic of the girls in the book Little Women. Each daughter has their own personality. Meg is motherly. Jo is strong. Beth is fragile. Amy is vain. I can relate because I have three sisters. Each of us came with our own personalities. As with the mother in the book, my mom was able to give individual and personal advice to each of her daughters as she raised us.
I have two sons but only one daughter, Mackenzie. I wanted desperately to have the exact same relationship with Kenz that I did with my mom. But our relationship is not same. And that’s okay. I am not my mom and Kenzie is not me. I don't fit the same mold as my mom. I am not the gentle, nurturing, “Little House on the Prairie” type. I'm opinionated, authoritative, and a control freak.
Kenz will hate me for saying this, but our relationship is more like the beloved characters, Sophia and Dorothy, from the sitcom “The Golden Girls”. The relationship between them is one filled with banter, sarcastic remarks, aggravating encouragement, teasing, and often unsolicited motherly advice. But it is filled with ultimate love.
Kenz has many extraordinary gifts that has allowed her to experience things that many only dream of doing. She doesn’t lead an ordinary life. But these adventures, stress-filled at times, have been a wonderful blessing in mine.
They have given me the opportunity to be with just Kenz. I knew my relationship with her wasn’t where I wanted it to be and needed attention. When my husband would complain that I was gone too much. I would remind him that I prayed for this. I needed this time with Kenz to strengthen and build not just our relationship but our friendship.
- American Idol
Her life was put on display and many watched our relationship on TV. There’s a scene on American Idol when Kenz was emotional and made the statement “I just want to make my mom proud.” To many, the moment was sweet and endearing. Of course, I was SO proud of Kenz. She had survived the most intense, scary, and awesome week of her life. Regardless of the outcome, I was so proud of her. My husband watched the same scene and said “Wow! That makes you sound like the mother in Mommy Dearest”.
Thankfully, Kenz set the record straight. She explained that relieved exhaustion had kicked in and that her emotions got the best of her. She knew I was proud of her. She added “she was so grateful I was there.” That sentence is music to a mother’s ear. She then vowed to “never cry on national tv again.”
Our life has calmed down a little since then. But the time we spend, one on one, together is time well spent. Some days, I am the mom, who makes her do hard things and reminds her “where much is given, much is expected” and then adds motherly advice in the form of a lecture. But I hope I am also the mom that provides the comforting feeling of “HOME” that I spoke of in the beginning, regardless of where we actually are.
Some times, Kenz is my lazy and sassy daughter. But she is also the daughter that teaches me courage, hard work, humility, patience, and faith. She is the bright light that shines on my life every day. She knows I miss my mom and still accepts me when I feel broken. And many times, when I say “no”, she reminds that my mom would have said yes. She is one of my greatest blessings. But more importantly, she is my best friend.
The hope of any mother, for her child, is that they will be happy and strong. Confident to find their own path. From my mom, I learned to be happy and strong. I hope I can help Kenz feel confident in finding her path. If I can make all my children feel as loved and valued as my mom made me feel then I will be providing them with the greatest gift a mother can give.
Motherhood matters. Nothing is more important than what we do with our children right here and now. We never know how much time we get with them. I got to watch, learn, and be loved by my mom for a short 35 years. She was my best friend. I adore my Husband and will say that he is my best friend too. But, today I can stand at this microphone and proudly say the same words my little brother uttered at my mom’s funeral - “I am my best friend’s mother.” And I challenge all of us moms to strive to become the same.