Lessons From My Mother

My mother is one of the wisest women I know. Many people will say that today, usually because we are so formed by a good mother that failure to recognize her wisdom would be self-loathing. To have given her full time and intellect, formidable gifts, to raising my brother and me gave us a heritage, but to have given us her wisdom was greater style.

Mom knew what to do and when to do it: the very definition of practical wisdom. She was also full of wonder, the very definition of a higher wisdom. Her life revolved around a reverential awe of the Lord, the very model of spiritual wisdom.

She taught me many things, but this Mother’s Day I lay down on this couch, blog, and call her blessed for five.

First, Mom taught me to wonder. She would argue with me for an entire day on the Civil War, courtship practices, or the friendship. This was not due to disagreement, once she thought my support for the Union in the Civil War was facile, and spent the day pressing my views. She did it for the joy of thinking.

Dad would be driven to distraction by our endless quest to get “to the bottom” of everything, but Mom taught me that often, if you went at one more hour, you did achieve more clarity.

Second, Mom taught me to examine everything, but not to be afraid not to change my mind. That sounds odd to us, but it is tricky balance. Often those with traditional views are rigid and fearful but those claiming open-mindedness are just using it is a veil to react to convention by adopting a new revolutionary convention.

Mom would have none of it. I saw her change her mind on important issues of theology, personal conduct, and politics, but only when she thought best reason, experience, and Revelation demanded it. She was willing to agree with convention, even at the cost of being viewed as “boring,” when reason demanded it as well.

Mom is traditional without being reactionary, full of change and hope without taint of revolutionary tyranny.

This, I have discovered is a very rare trait.

Third, Mom taught me that growing up is good. She was nineteen, one year married, when I was born. In one way, we grew up together and Mom made it look good. She never was afraid to tell me of mistakes she made, I remember a few, and so I have never held them against her.

Fourth, Mom was never a tyrant. At times, I have disappointed her by adopting ideas and behaviors that were stupid and bad. Mom would disagree, discuss endlessly, but never rejected me. She was neither soft nor hard . . . she was just right. Is there anything more comforting than a Mom who will love you, but not your foibles?

She loved me as Jesus saw me, but with no excuse for my (many) sins.

Finally, Mom is the most romantic person I know, but she tempered her romance. She created beauty everywhere. I remember her taking a crow bar and redoing a basement corner into a cozy family room . . . all without spending any money. She always was dressed perfectly, but with no budget for clothes.

But all her romantic desires enriched her, they never governed her. She did hard work, deferred dreams, and too bad news in stride. Some romantics will harm others in the name of Beauty, Mom never did.

If I become half the human being my Mom is, then I will be happy. She always wanted us to call her “Mother,” but Daniel and I thought it sounded stiff, like a card that says “what is a Mother?” is a grocery store. Now I am sorry we never picked up the habit, because “Mom” is too short, she went the whole way all her life and has become fully that blessed being we call “mother.”

What is a mother?

You, Mom. You.

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