Brad's mom moved dozens of times around the country while her kids were little and not-so-little. His dad often had to start working in the new location, leaving her alone to raise the kids and sell the house. Of course, at the same time, she was usually Relief Society President for church and/or pregnant with another baby and probably sewing all her children matching Easter outfits.
(Also, making homemade oatmeal cookies so good that they cannot ever be replicated. I am a pretty decent cookie baker, but to this day, every time I attempt the oatmeal variety, Brad gets this faraway look on his face and wistfully says, "Y'know my mom used to make the BEST oatmeal cookies. You should get her recipe." Of course, I have been using her recipe for at least sixteen years. But they just never quite measure up to the oatmeal cookies of his past. Nana is seriously that good.)
And even more amazing than the cookies is, that even with the constant upheaval of his childhood, Brad doesn't remember his mom ever yelling at the kids or crying in her bedroom or giving his dad the silent treatment.
No wonder he finds our marriage a little puzzling.
Talking last night, Brad was reminiscing about all the fun he had growing up in such a mobile family. Watching the movers bring in his boxes of toys and setting up his new room. Taking his bicycle right off the truck and riding around an unfamiliar neighborhood, hoping to find kids his age. It was always an adventure. Always fun. And I credit his mom for making it such a positive part of his life.
My own mother didn't have to uproot her family nearly as often. But she did teach me the art of making a home. Mom had an artistic flair for decorating. When I was little, she always seemed to be in the middle of some amazing home project--sanding an old table, tying a quilt or looking at wallpaper sample books. Mom really enjoyed wallpaper.
My childhood home was unique. None of my friends' houses had family names carved onto the mantlepiece. None had moms who designed furniture and got featured in remodeling magazines. None had walls covered with maps and menus and matchboxes from around the world. Or Swiss murals painted across the whole back of the house. Our home was different and interesting and surprising. Just like my mom.
When circumstances changed, and Mom had to move from her dream home to a less-glamorous model, she made the best of her surroundings. She made sure the important things were in place--a big kitchen table, a piano with lots of sheet music, comfy chairs and plenty of bookshelves. And, of course, wallpaper in every room.
Mom is great at analyzing spaces. When she came to help me after I'd had the twins, she took a quick look around and told me exactly where to put changing pads and diaper pails and dirty clothes' baskets. She sorted and outfitted my car so that I could grab everything I'd need without unbuckling my seatbelt. A week with Mom can be an intense organizational orgy.
This Mother's Day, as I attempt to deconstruct one nest and start feathering another, I am grateful for mothers who have taken me under their wings. Just being in their homes and watching them live has taught me tremendously.
I may not make great oatmeal cookies or have an eye for wallpaper, but I DO know that a loving mother can bless an entire family. And I am doubly blessed.
Happy Mother's Day!