THE Mama. The woman who fearlessly dove back into the trenches of motherhood when most women her age were counting down the days to high school graduations. The woman who celebrates all things great and small and always with a hearty dose of chocolate. Her laughter is contagious and her storytelling draws the ear of everyone in the room. She is courageous, working diligently to keep her family close and praying for their struggles, even as we are scattered around the country and across the world.
What I admire most is her humility and openness, sharing how she has changed and grown through the wild ups and downs of her life. She is wiser and stronger than the woman she was when I moved away for school (and in the years just before that she’d been a foster parent, adopted two littles, and become a caregiver for her own mom and dad; it was no easy season!), grown and changed by the trials and storms and adventures that have come one after another every season since. I know her soul is weary for rest and peace, but she does not give up or run. My mother is a woman of perseverance. She’s taught me how to embrace the high highs and low lows, to think with my heart (not just my head), to forgive quickly and celebrate growth.
I’ve got her chocolate chip cookie recipe memorized and book of all the rest in my kitchen, ready to be called upon for weeknight dinners and holiday celebrations. Whenever I host friends around our little kitchen table I think of my Mom, always eager to share her home with others, whatever condition it might be in – perfection is not a prerequisite for a party! Growing up, I’d often slip away from dinners or parties with family friends to recharge my introverted energies alone in my room – a family trait that I know was maddening in the face of the work and energy she was showering upon her guests upstairs. When I moved out on my own, I wondered how I could ever offer such a warm and gracious home to others given how very unskilled I am in the art of group conversations. I’m not exactly a smooth small-talker and inviting over brand-new friends (or even large groups of much beloved ones) is utterly terrifying. But, I started with pots of her chili, spread out her table cloths on that little table and baked up batches of cookies to share. I was finding my own way of offering and sharing space, perhaps not as animatedly or to as many people, but hospitality nonetheless, and it was beautiful.
Mom, it was such an honor to finally get to host you in my home last week. I can’t fully put to words the satisfaction, pride, and joy I felt, able to offer you my space (and show off my babies) after so many years apprenticing in your art of hospitality. Thank you for being such a gracious guest!
Happy Birthday, Mama dearest.