With Mother’s Day coming up, I thought I would write about some sweet things I miss about my mom.  I would really rather write about some funny stories about my mom.  I have quite a few, let me tell you.  But I am not sure my mom would want me to share them.  I can hear her in my head saying, “Shannon!  Don’t tell them that!  They’ll think I’m crazier than a hoot owl!”  If you knew my mom, you would know that this sounds exactly like something she would have said.  She had a wild collection of colorful expressions.  Most of them made absolutely no sense.  I’m not at all sure that owls are crazy.  I think they might be quite smart.  The owls in Harry Potter were very smart.  But, I digress. I will honor Mom’s wishes and stick to sweet stories.


As I have written before, my mom did not enjoy cooking, but she did do it out of necessity.  Baking, on the other hand, was not necessary.  We had a bakery in town, so she was not compelled to bake anything, ever.  I honestly never remember her baking a thing the entire time I was young.  I remember her talking about how much she disliked it, but I never saw her even try it.  Then, out of nowhere, she started baking me birthday cakes when I was in my thirties.  It lasted about four years.  One year she just showed up at my house with a birthday cake that she had baked for me.  She acted as if it was something she did all the time.  I was shocked!  It was a box-mix spice cake with cream cheese frosting from a tub.  I am pretty sure she had no idea what flavor the cake was because she refused to wear her glasses to the grocery store because she thought they made her look old.  She also would not wear them to read how to make the cake, so every year it turned out a little different.  The rest of my family never fought me for the cake.  I always had the whole thing to myself.  Boxed spice cake is not a real crowd pleaser.  But I had never had a cake that my mom had actually baked for me before.  She had bought me lots of birthday cakes.  But those spice cakes were special.  I knew how much she hated to make them.  But she did it anyway.  She did it because she loved me more than she hated baking.  So I ate them.  And they were delicious to me.  They tasted like unconditional love.


When I moved away to college, which was only forty minutes away, I would still come home on some weekends.  When I was in the shower in the mornings, my mom would take a cup of hot coffee into my bedroom for me so that it would be waiting for me when I got out of the shower.  She always got up before me, even when I had to get up very early to get back to school.  She wanted to see me off.  She would stand at the door and wave good-bye to me as I drove down the street.  


When I was living away from home, before I was married, my mom would mail me cards quite often.  Funny cards or sweet cards- just cards to let me know that she was thinking about me.  Rarely did a week go by when I did not have a card in my mailbox from my mom letting me know that she was thinking about me.  We always spoke on the phone several times a week, but it was still so nice to see her handwriting on those cards in my mailbox.  I would really give anything to see her handwriting on an envelope in my mailbox just one more time.


Perhaps the sweetest thing my mom did was when she was my number one room parent.  Of course, she did that when I was in school.  But she also did it when I taught school!  When I taught first grade, my mom was a room parent in my classroom.  She came to all of the holiday parties and she went on all of the field trips.  She was supposed to be helpful, because I could just tell her what to do.  That only worked when she listened, which turned out to be not very often.  Every fall, the first graders took a short wagon ride to a nearby pumpkin patch.  We did a little tour and then the children were able to pick a pumpkin to carry back to the school.  We had to walk back.  Every year I gave my class a little talk about how to carefully select the right size pumpkin for carrying.  There were twenty-five of them.  I could not carry twenty-five pumpkins.  They each had to carry their own pumpkin the entire way back to school.  No rolling it.  No bouncing it.  If they could not carry it, because they chose a pumpkin that was too big, we would have to leave it on the side of the road. (Perhaps it wasn’t a little talk.  It was a long pumpkin lecture.)  My mom sat right there and listened to the pumpkin lecture.  Every year we would leave the patch in a nice line, me in front and my mom in back.  All of the students and their pumpkins would walk in between us.  When we arrived at the school, I would look back and see my mom carrying at least twelve pumpkins.  When confronted, she always said that the pumpkins were too heavy for their little arms.  


One year, we went to a conservation area at a park.  We had several sections of first grade, so we were divided into groups and each group was rotated through a series of activities.  One of the activities was a nature trail.  I happened to have a rather wild group that year.  The trail was full of tree roots.  I could just see some of my boys acting goofy and tripping over the roots and falling.  We were in our usual line formation, me in front and my mom in back.  I stopped the line at the beginning of the trail.  I wanted to do a little precorrecting.  (In other words, another lecture.)  I warned about the grave dangers of acting all wild and crazy when there were dangerous conditions on the ground.  We had to be very vigilant with our footing.  We had to watch every step we took.  We couldn’t be talking and looking all around, for goodness sake.  Even as we started walking, I could not just shut up and let the children enjoy their field trip. I just had to keep yapping at them.  I turned my head to warn them about another impending doom, when SPLAT! Down I went.  Guess who had tripped over a tree root because she had been talking and not paying attention, for goodness sake?  My entire class was completely silent.  Not one child made one sound.  Then, breaking the silence, comes my mom’s voice, “Honey, are you all right? Did you sprain your ankle on that root?”  Luckily, I was fine and my much smarter students had no trouble navigating the path.  


It’s so easy to take for granted all of the small moments with our moms that we have.  At the time these events happened, I would never have guessed that these would be memories that I would treasure when she was gone much sooner that I would have dreamed.  But it’s the little things that I miss the most.  Moms notice the little things.  My mom knew I was getting a cold before I did, even when I was forty!  She was so excited about everything I did.  She always thought I was the smartest and the cutest.  She always took my side.  (And my sister’s.  She did all of this for my sister, too.)  No one will ever love me like my mom did.  


I know this because I love my children the same way.  I love them completely.  I would definitely carry twelve pumpkins for them.  Maybe more.  I am astounded every day that I played a role in bringing such wonderful humans into this world.  I think everything they do is just amazing.  My eyes light up whenever I see them, or whenever I hear them come into the house.  I will cherish every moment I have with them- big and small.

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