Mother's Day. It was always the time of the year that the iris bloomed. After the winter season, it was the one of first glimpses of flowers in the yard. We always had a big bouquet of purple and yellow blooms on the table. My mother grew up in a time where you planted things that came back year after year, usually bulbs given to you by a friend or relative. There were no greenhouse flowers, there were heritage blooms.
Everybody loved my mom. She was a “cool mom” before moms were cool. Now I don’t mean she was a mom that wore teenager clothing or tried to hang out with us or be youthful, she was just herself and that was…cool. She was older than a lot of my friend's moms, and she worked, so that meant I learned how to cook at a fairly young age. This was good, because she was a great cook and taught me many kitchen tricks. In the summers she canned a lot, and in the winters she baked. She had a self-deprecating humor, and loved to collect things. She was never unaccompanied by my daddy, so it is almost hard for me to speak of her in the singular. They were from a time when married couples did not do things without the other. Anyone who was in our world at the time I was growing up knows they were never far away from where I was. They were a fixture at our house after I married, at all our get-togethers, and kidnapped my girls at every occasion. But growing up in the Miller house was different than a lot of others.
My name was chosen long before I was born. Clif was born 13 years before me, and the name Donna (after my mother's sister) had been chosen “in case” he was a girl. Jim came along a couple of years later, and the name had to wait. Well, many years and one more brother (Ken) later, I appeared…the little princess in all their lives. (Know that as I write this, I am laughing. They will begrudgingly agree, however.) I was a fluff of hair ribbons, lacy socks, pretty dresses and curls. I have early memories of the three of them treating me like a little doll when I was small. When I got older, Kenny and I had our moments of war, but I was still his little sister, and he was very protective of me.
My mom was not a super attentive mother, no matter what my princess title required. Once I was old enough to run outside, I think a “free range” parenting label would fit better. I climbed trees, made mud pies, and played trucks with the boys. I cut Tide boxes and clipped them to my bicycle spokes with clothes pins so it would make noise. I went to my dad’s shop and drove small tractors up and down FM 281, much to the neighbor’s horror. Most days I am sure I smelled like a boy when I came in, after a long day blowing up gourds with firecrackers, playing pirate in the old combines behind the shop, and laying in the grass looking at the stars until the mosquitoes ate me up. In my books, that was mothering at its best.
I was blessed with my own little curtain climbers many years later. “Mothering” had changed, but I think they will both agree I was not a helicopter mother either. I must say though, I know for a fact that the lessons and values taught me by my mother have been passed on. Mother taught me how to sew, cook, balance a checkbook, recycle something from almost anything, how to laugh at yourself, and most of all, how to be independent. I know I have succeeded in passing that knowledge on to my two little monkeys, who are now the most amazing, beautiful young women I know. They are smart, funny, capable women who know how to work and achieve great things. Mother has been gone 17 years now, but her knowledge is still alive and well through them.
You know, we don’t get a manual when we have kids. We are just all out there, being the best moms we know how to be. For some that means being a helicopter. For others, that might mean not being in their child’s lives at all. But at the end of the day, IT IS OUR BEST. Thank you, Shelly and Shana, for being everything a mother could ever ask for. I thank God constantly for his blessing of you on our life. I pray he bless you both with the same.
Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends and family. Appreciate your mom every day, whether she is still with you or not—she did her best.