Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On Moving and Mothers

This month, whenever I start feeling overwhelmed by the whole house-selling-house-buying-moving-far-away thing, I stop and try to channel my mother-in-law. She is a woman who knows how to move. Literally. And she's done it over and over again.

My mother-in-law with the beginnings of her darling family...circa 1970?

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.

Books, bangs and wallpaper--Mom and me

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!


Mandy said...

I am totally crying at this post! You are amazing in the way you write, and I love that I can totally relate to you. Yes, you are correct, you do not know me. But, I love your blog! Keep up the great posting!

the wrath of khandrea said...

oh yes. i have cyber-watched your mother pack a suitcase. "master" does not do her credit.

Travelin'Oma said...

The secret to moving is having an 11-year-old boy with a hammer and a screw-driver. Send the husband somewhere else on an important masculine errand, and then drag your helper(s) around to hang up mirrors, towel racks, hooks in closets, pictures, etc.

11-year-old boys love to hammer—they have none of those strange qualms about hitting a freshly painted white wall.

A 9-year-old girl is especially helpful at holding stuff up while the boy marks the spot. I truly swear by this method. (Husbands swear AT this method, but it gives kids something to do before they have any friends, and you get the stuff out of the corners.

Your little faux interior designers will have great ideas on where to put the stuff in their rooms. Let 'em at it. Re-do it if you must later, but at least it's somewhere where they can find it until you finish organizing the kitchen. Have them organize their own closets, bathroom cupboards, etc.

You've got a built in work-force. Use 'em! Have them act out what activities they'll want to do where, and then put the stuff they'll need in a handy spot. It sounds totally fun (from this end, with no actual work or kids close at hand.) I know you'll make it all a fun family project.

Moving into a house is when it truly becomes "a house of learning," and everybody learns together. I look back at our four major moves between 1985 and 1990 and they were really bonding times for the family. I realized these kids were legitimate helpers!

Christie said...

Okay, that picture of Brad's family - Brad looks JUST like his dad. And I assume little boy is little boy Brad? Hello, Sam. Wow. You could just clone in you, Emme, Luke, and Jake for a family portrait. Wowza.

Lovely tribute though. You are so lucky in the mom and MIL department.

Lauren in GA said...

What a wonderful tribute post to both wonderful women.

You look so darling in the picture of you as a little girl!

I agree with Stie...Sam looks like his daddy!!

I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day, Gabi.

Rochelleht said...

Oh my GOSH, Sam looks like his dad. WOW!!

My husband doesn't remember any yelling in his family either. I think men have selective memories.

Travelin'Oma said...

Sorry for my long and crazy comment. It was ambien induced. It brings out the loquacious side of me.

brooke said...

I loved this post and it made me teary-eyed as well-maybe its the post pregnancy hormones!

And your twins look exactly like Brad did as a child. Holy cow--it is uncanny!

What a great tribute to two wonderful moms. I have to admit that I totally laughed on the part about crying in your room and the silent treatment which my husband knows all too well.

Robin said...

What a great post. It made me think of my mom and how much I love her. Thanks for posting this.

Heather said...

What a great post! You are such an amazing Lady.

Tristan said...

Loved this! Such a fantastic post! I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a Happy Mother's Day!

Marci said...

Ahhhh. There is nothing better than reading a good GAB BLOG post. You are my favorite.

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