Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Lack of Appreciation

My oldest daughter is five. She is incredibly smart and mature for her age, but she's five. Today I picked her up late from school (for reasons that could not really be helped). On the way from school to church, she proceeded to tell me that the gift we are planning to give her teachers (which I haven't had time to finish yet because I work a full-time job outside of the home) is not going to be enough. Someone else in her class has been giving the teachers presents every day and not just her teachers, but the other teachers she is with for part of the day too. I was told that I needed to do more so we can appreciate her teachers as much as the other little girl does. I tried not to lose it with her and tried to explain that some mothers have more time than other mothers and some families have more money to spend than other families. That we have to buy gifts for her teachers and Addisyn's teachers and that we just can't spend that kind of money. I thought that was the end of that.

Then, when I was putting her to bed an hour late (we had to stop at Walmart and pick up invitations for her graduation party with some friends from school, I let her watch tv while I got sister ready for bed and asleep, and then I let her watch an EXTRA tv show while I got the dishes washed), she got upset with me that I wouldn't read her a story. I told her that she had gotten to stay up late already and there wasn't time for a story tonight. She told me that I'm not as good at putting her to bed as Daddy is and that if I did it like Daddy, she would get to have a story. Then she jumped back on the subject of our teacher presents not being good enough.

I know I'm taking it personally, and I know she is just five, but it made me wonder how many times I treated my mother like dirt because she wasn't doing something I wanted her to do. I know I did it. Several times. Especially when I was a teenager.

My mother worked hard all day everyday. She worked a full-time job outside the home, kept our house clean, our tummies full, took us all over the county for tap, jazz, ballet, gymnastics, and cheerleader practice when we were younger and then gymnastics, cheerleading, basketball, and softball when I was older. She threw the best birthday parties ever, made sure we had cute clothes to wear, awesome presents to give, and made sure our homework was done. She would get up early to braid my hair for softball games (and two of my best friends), take me to buy new books when I finished the one I was reading, and spent all her weekends doing things my sister and I wanted to do.

I honestly do not recall a single time past the age of 8ish where my mother did what she wanted to do regardless of what our plans were. She coached my little league cheer team. She took us shopping. She used her lunch hour late so she could be at all our pep rallies. She did without so that we could fit in.

I was a tad bit self-absorbed as a teenager. I was only interested in what I wanted to do and stayed locked in my room if I was at home. I ignored my mother when she wanted to talk. I expected her to feed me, wash my clothes (and NASTY softball uniforms), and bring me everything I forgot to school. Everybody loved my mom. They called her Martha. I knew how awesome my mom was but that never stopped me from rolling my eyes or having an attitude.

Most of my actions were typical teenage actions--things to be expected. But I was wrong. I should have thanked her. I should have not blown her off when she wanted to talk to me about my dates or what my friends were going through.

When I was a senior, I was accepted into two colleges and one of those schools awarded me a full scholarship renewable for four years. I had a big decision to make and I don't know if my mom realizes it or not, but she is the reason I chose to go to Auburn (where I did not have a scholarship). One night we were talking, or rather, she was trying to talk to me while I was talking to multiple friends on AOL, and she asked me what I was going to do. I told her I'd probably just go to the school that was free and she looked at me and said that she always wanted to go to Auburn. She went instead to the school that was closer and cost less (and I think she had a scholarship too). Her plan was to transfer to Auburn, but she never did, and if that was my plan, I probably never would either. She said that if it was my dream to go there, I should go--don't worry about the money, they would find a way.

I listened to her and went to Auburn. That decision changed the course of my life.

And when I went to Auburn, she stocked my apartment and made it the cutest apartment around. She bought me all the things I liked about home so I'd feel comfortable. When finals came, she took a few days off work and came to stay with me. She did my laundry and cooked for me and cleaned my apartment so that I could just worry about studying.

That first year of college, I realized how awesome my momma really was.

And even now, years later, she is still amazing, and everyone still knows it. Even Ansleigh knows it. I'm ok with not being as good as Lolli, because Lolli's shoes are hard to fill.

Momma, I am so sorry for all those times I treated you terribly. You are honest-to-goodness the world's best mother. I hope, you didn't take it personally, but I fear that you did. Just know that all my friends have always appreciated you and even though it took me a while to catch on, I know it now and my girls know it too.

You are awesome and I am blessed.

I love you.


Beachside said...

That was so touching and beautiful. It is also very timely for Mother's Day. We will all reflect on how we too treated our mothers.

Jennine Stalder said...

“You'll appreciate your mother more when you have a child of your own.” - I couldn't agree more. I suddenly remember my mom. Just like you, she supported us all the way – from simple things to major leagues that my brother's joined in when he was in college. She even bought us cute shirts that was nearly looked like my brother's uniform just to show our support.

Jennine Stalder @