My mother is truly a maker of home, and by watching her I was able to learn how to make my home with my husband and children now. Thomas S. Monson said, “One cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and [our earthly] mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”
Lesson One : Love Old Ladies – In our neighborhood in Phoenix growing up there was a grandma friend on each end of our street that my Mom would look after. She would drop things off to them, food, or other beautiful things. What I liked best is when she would send my sister and I to deliver these presents for her. One of the women we would visit with mom’s gifts in hand thought I was a boy because I had very short hair. To combat this, I would always wear earrings when I went to see her so she would stop calling me a little boy. Then she would start to say “Why would a little boy like you wear earrings?” which of course my older sister thought was hilarious. But then she would accept the gift from my mother and open up her photo album and go through it with us. Every few minutes she would tell us that her birthday was on July 9th. My sister and I still call each other on July 9th to remind each other of this birthday. It was by doing this service, shown first by my mom and then done in partner with my sister, that I learned that it doesn’t’ matter if someone can hear you (even if you are vehemently denying that you are not a boy, but a girl) or if they are way older than you can ever imagine being yourself you can communicate with them still through love and service. She sent us over there not to bring the food, but to give us a chance to love our little old lady neighbor.
Lesson Two : Don’t Watch, Work – Mom is ALWAYS serving in some aspect every day the people she goes to church with on top of serving her own family. I watched her dream up and carry out extremely awesome Cub Scout activities for the boys at church, visit her “sisters” from church in the hospital or bring them dinners, communicate love to the teenage girls at church as she attempted to leave all of her cares at home and went weekly to spend time with them on Wednesday nights also dreaming up and carrying out extremely awesome activities for them. When there was a family party for church I began to notice a pattern, we were always one of the last families to leave. It didn’t bother me because it gave me more time to run around like a wild women with my friends and little brothers, but I knew we would be one of the last ones to leave, and I knew I could find my Mom in the kitchen doing dishes if I needed her. Still everywhere she goes, if someone is working she is helping. She doesn’t watch, she works. No matter how short or long of a visit any of me or my siblings get from her or give to her now that we are older, we without exception feel lifted by her.
Lesson Three : Pack Good Snacks – School lunches, zoo pic nics, park dates, (even during Sacrament meeting, the hour long family meeting at our church where we take the emblems of the Sacrament and hear talks to bring us closer to Christ - don’t worry we had reverent snacks at church), we were sure to have the best packed Mom purse in town. Mom never took us anywhere that she wasn’t prepared to whip out something awesome if we were hungry. She would pack the best field trip sack lunches ever, and knowing these things were taken care of, that I never had to worry about needing a little smackeral and not having it was of course a great comfort to me. The comfort came not so much from the food in my stomach, but from knowing that Mom thought about me and brought this because she knew I would enjoy it. I like to think that I am able to do that now for my own kids, but only because I saw the importance and awesomeness of it from my own Mother’s snack preparedness. Good snacks are kind of a big deal.
Lesson Four : New Kitchens and Curtains Aren’t Everything – My parents lived in their first home for 18 years. They slowly added their own touches to it, turned the garage into a big bedroom for their three daughters, Mom carved out amazing flower beds and gardens in the front and back yards, and I think they may have built a shed in the at some point. But I remember the biggest deal, the center jewel on both of my parents crowns, was when they after living in their house for 16 years were able to remodel their kitchen and bathrooms. When it was done I remember how excited Mom was. The finished work was beautiful and definitely needed. Also part of this beautification was the picking and installation of real deal “drapes” in my Mom’s living room. I remember what they looked like still (Floral cream, pink, blue, and soft yellow) and remember sitting in that room and staring at them after they were installed admiring my Mom’s selection. Soon after this work was all done, my parents got the opportunity to move to another home in Tempe, where they felt would be a great place for our family to have a new chapter. This home was bigger to fit the 8 people that would live inside it, but would slowly need all of those same remodels done again. I remember being so sad to leave the drapes behind and the freshly remodeled touches but Mom assured me that there were much more important things than those ahead of us. It serves me well now to remember that all of those remodels and fancy curtains didn’t happen until over a decade and a half of my parents living in that home. Nothing about our family relationships became somehow better or made family life easier because of fancy curtains, or new countertops, but what did make our home better and our family what it was then and is now, is my Mother.
I am grateful for my own Mom on this coming up Mother’s Day and always for the countless lessons she has taught and teaches me still. Because of how she lives her life I am blessed and am becoming shaped into a maker of home myself.