Friday, November 7, 2014

List #2: Things My Mama Taught Me

In honor of my Mama, and on her birthday today, I want to share with you '10 things I learned from my Mom'...

1.  Productive people get up early.
My Mom has always been an early riser.  During my teen years, this was just an annoyance since she would greet my night-owl self with her spunk and vigor when I arose.  But as I grew older, and especially when I had kids, I learned that there was great value in those wee hours.  The quiet and stillness of the early morning has helped me develop a habit of sitting with God or going out for a run when the sun is just rising.  And many days, I even have my supper started or planned before 8 in the morning—that’s like my mama too.

2.  Always be hungry for knowledge.
Education was important for my Mom.  Not only did she earn a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Education itself, she chose to read and study and mentally challenge herself so that she was well versed in a variety of subjects.  Because I observed her reading many different genres of books and taking classes when I was young, I am now drawn to “read myself to intelligence” like she has.  One time I remember asking her how she learned to sew; she said, “I read the pattern and figured it out.”  I have since “read the pattern” on lots of things in life and figured them out just like my mom.

3.  Don’t be afraid to invest in people unlike yourself.
My Mom and Dad were always really good about inviting people into our home.  Most of these people were struggling in some way and my parents would help them by fixing them meals, watching their children, offering to provide a service, or just loving them.  Many a family probably credits my parents with helping them turn their lives around.  My parents taught me to love the “untouchables” and not be afraid of them.  When I was 7, my Mom brought home one of the high school students that she taught, and Bruce became my foster brother.  I loved my long-haired, chain-smoking brother because my Mom showed me he belonged to us.

4.  Marriage is worth doing well.
Kids listen to and watch their parents all the time (believe it or not!), and one thing I remember hearing come from my mother’s mouth is, “I don’t just love your Dad, I really, really like him too.”  This had a great impact on me because I knew that my Dad sometimes hurt my mom’s feelings and that she often did things with him just because he wanted to do them (read “cutting wood in the Minnesota winters”). But she had chosen to admire and like my dad even if he wasn’t perfect.   That gave me great security.  I don’t recall my parents ever having any major arguments in front of us, and I remember that my Dad would never allow us to speak disrespectfully to our Mom.  These things made their marriage worth replicating in my eyes.  Thanks Mom and Dad.

5.  Don’t take life too seriously.
My mom was always, and still is, what I term a “fun Mom”.  We had delightful birthday parties and themed meals on special days.  We made candles from crayons one snow day and had an awesome Halloween party at our house with peeled grapes for eyeballs and cold spaghetti for brains.  We always had homemade velvet dresses at Christmas and sister-matching outfits at Easter too.  She liked to sew, and I liked it when she sewed because she let me play with the buttons.  Speaking of buttons, my mom sewed a button eye on one of my teddy bears when his original eye was missing, and when I said that it looked funny, she told me he was winking.  Humor was always present in my family with a bit of whimsy added in.  We laughed a lot. I liked that.  I still like it.

6.  Walk quickly.
My mama is a very fast walker.  I remember jogging beside her as a young child and thinking this was normal.  My children also jogged beside me because, guess what?  I walk fast.  When you walk quickly, you look confident…and you get places fast.  My Mom has always had a sense of purpose about her and if you don’t hurry up, she will probably beat you to the finish. 

7.  Make your home a haven.
Our home was a place of warmth and comfort; I was often lulled to sleep at night with the sounds of my mom working in the kitchen preparing something for the next day or cleaning up the dishes from supper.  She and my dad were present most of the time and available when we needed them. I knew that if I was scared in the night, I could run to their room and lay between them in their massive bed and feel like nothing bad would ever happen again.

8.  Make mealtime an important part of the day.
My mom was really great about having a family mealtime every day.  I thought it strange that some families would eat in front of the TV or individually.  Family meal time, for us, was probably the most important part of our day.  We talked and shared and learned table manners and listened to my Dad’s stories about his customers.  We sat around after the meal just to visit some more.  We could only do this because my Mom was a super-duper pre-planner and always thought out our menu beforehand (or grabbed something she had frozen earlier in the week )to feed us.  Mealtimes at the Haverkamps have also defined our family culture.  I think all of our kids would say that one of their favorite times with the family is eating a meal together.

9.  Retain your individuality.
Even when we were young, my mom didn’t just define herself by motherhood.  She had hobbies that she enjoyed and pursued; whether it was helping stroke victims learn to function again, crocheting jute plant holders, making fabric wreaths at Christmas, acting in Community Theater plays, or delivering meals to elderly folks, she was “all in” because she identified herself as Patty, and not just Mommy.  She worked part time when we were young and full time as we got older; teaching kids was important to her so she pursued her dream.  I have often been tempted to define myself as “just a mom”, and though that’s OK for a time, as my kids grow up and need me less and less, I am pleased I have found other interests outside of this role—these interests and skills I have developed have eased the transition into this new season of my life.

10.  Enjoy the Grace of God.
My Mom understands how very blessed she is.  She is grateful for the saving Grace that Jesus gives her.  She is awed by God’s provision for her everyday.  Her thankful attitude carries into just about everything she does because she knows that it is by the Grace of God that she is who she is: She is a child of the King.  She is dearly loved.  And I am the one who I truly rich because of her.

Happy Birthday Mom! 

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…

Proverbs 31:28