Appreciating our MothersLife on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers is a small book that delivers a swift punch. The words are limited but speak volumes as a busy mother and her teenage daughter communicate with each other through notes. They leave the usual messages about being late, babysitting, reminders to pick up a few groceries. One note, however, is a little different. “It’s nothing to worry about, but I found a lump in my right breast.” This book took no time to read. Some entries are a mere few words. But added together, they complete a full and touching story, one that makes us appreciate and cherish relationships with our own mothers and daughters.
I can honestly say that I've always appreciated my mom, although I may not have shown it as much as I should. My mom was and still is one person who, without fail, never stops looking out for me and my sisters. She’s permanently in our corner. And even though we tease her on so many levels, we do it with love. My mom is easy to tease because she has an accent as thick as a liverwurst sandwich. Sometimes her accent embarrassed us, especially when we repeated things she said. Imagine the other kids laughing when we talked about Weenie the Pooh, not Winnie the Pooh. Or how about when we told friends that we went shopping at Pierre 100 (Pier 1)? For the most part, though, we were on to her and laughed at her twisted talk. She had a “whole sloot” of sayings up her sleeve and she wasn't afraid to use them. She’d say things like: “You’d forget your hat if it wasn't attached; I gotta watch you like a hog; I have a chicken to plug with you; I’m stuck between a rock and a hot plate.”
Ah yes, she kept us laughing. We definitely had her beat in English. But she trumped us on too many other fronts to count. She was an extraordinary seamstress and used to make all our matching clothes. I, on the other hand, can only sew things like pillowcases and other first-grade projects. She’s given up some of her hobbies, but on the culinary front, my mom is still the master cook. She makes a pork roast that will melt in your mouth and have you doing the chicken dance for joy.
As an adult now, I really owe my mom an apology, and not just for making fun of her accent. Looking back I see things so much clearer. I finally understand her overreaction when we learned to drive. My mom was so tense her butt cheeks almost pinched chunks out of the car seat while her feet wildly stomped on her imaginary brake on the passenger side. She was a wreck, a ball of nerves. I could see visible sweat streaming down the side of her face and blossoming around her armpits when I came to a 6-way stop. This was a busy street in Las Vegas. And people in Las Vegas were not known for the patience or hometown friendliness. Cars were lined up in all directions. The idea was to stop and trot. The rule is, don’t linger or you’re really going to irritate a lot of Elvis impersonators and showgirls behind you. But my mom was almost hyperventilating as I rolled to the front. “Just wait!” she yelled. “Wait?” I asked panicking. “Yes!! Wait for everyone to go!!” Her voice started cracking. I was starting to sweat, too. “Wait for everyone in all the lines to go?!” I shouted. “YES!!!!” What should I do, listen to a frantic woman and feel the wrath of the other cars, or should I move it? Finally, against her wishes, I pushed the gas pedal and took off through the intersection. And you know what? We survived. It all seems so drastic now, so over dramatic—until my son wanted me to teach him to drive. Suddenly, I was reincarnated into my still-living mother. I panicked, pinched, and yelled. And then I did the only wise thing I could think of. I let his dad teach him to drive.
Sometimes even mothers deserve a pass.
For more about my awesome mom, read the review on Mennonite in aLittle Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen and The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan.
Happy Mother’s Day!!