Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wow, That's Old

Today is my mother's birthday, so I figured I'd write a post all about her in honor of her awesomeness.

I hope I'm half as interesting and half as kind as she is. That would be a great accomplishment.

When she's not busy being Super Wife to my father, she's being Super Woman of Christ to the women of the northwoods. She has a sincere desire to teach women about the values of friendships with other women, and how those relationships can help even the bleakest of lives shine. She does this by example, and she does it with grace and humility.

Though she doesn't have a full-time, paying job, she is busier than I ever was when I worked outside the home. How she finds time to be Super Nana is beyond me. Clever scheduling, I guess. Planning and preparing and oiling the wheels of her Women's Aglow group is very time consuming, but soul enriching.

Super Nana! She jokes that grandchildren are the rewards for difficult teenagers, and goodness knows she had a pack of those. I'm glad she feels rewarded by our children, and I know my brothers and my sisters try to bless her as often as we can. She's given her heart completely over to us, and even as adults, she's still a backbone of strength and generosity of spirit to us.

I love how she cares for my children. She knows all of Ben's little quirks and eccentricities, and she delights in him as we do. She's always patient with him, and she loves cultivating a life-long relationship with him. I can see it in her eyes and the way she interacts with him. She's there for the long haul. I appreciate every thing she does for them, and every minute she spends with them. I never had close, cozy relationships with my grandparents, and I am blessed by watching my children be blessed by time with their Nana.

And how she cares for me. I think now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I feel more connected to her than ever. She was a SAHM for most of my life, and that's the only way I remember her. When I'm baking cookies with Ben or even folding laundry, I feel her hands on mine as I do the same time-honored tasks women have done throughout history. She's taught me the dignity and grace and power there is in being a SAHM. She's one of my bestest friends, and I know I could call her and vent and whine and cry and laugh anytime, and she'd be right there in the moment with me.

She's the one who taught me that silliness is a perfectly reasonable trait in a parent. When I'm dancing behind the cart in the grocery store, shaking my butt and singing along with the store music, I'm just doing what my mom always did. Even the dullest tasks can be made interesting and fun if you inject a little joy into them.

We are all her legacy. My brother's determination and confidence, my other brother's love of books and sensitivity that he swaddles in burly machismo, my sister's irony-filled enthusiasm for life and mama bear tendencies, and me. There's not much about me that isn't an offshoot of her. Can you tell I'm one of her biggest fans?

I think her grandchildren are her greatest joy. Over the Christmas break, she was busy with snowmobiling and sledding with the ones that could spend their Christmas vacation with her. During summer visits, she loves to go go-cart riding, miniature golfing, swimming at the beach, and four-wheeling all over Upper Michigan. I'm not sure if the eldest has taught her how to snowboard yet, but it still might happen. She refuses to be the kind of grandmother that just greets the kids at the door with an apron and a plate of cookies (though the cookies are always available). She's a Nana of Action and Adventure, and she whispers to each one, "If things ever get bad at home, if your parents are ever mean to you, just give me a call and you can come stay at Nana's house for a while, and you can tell me all your secrets and dreams."

Her gaggle of grandchildren: