Saturday, May 11, 2013


"Our children are not ours because they share our genes...

they are ours because we have had the audacity to envision them. 

That, at the end of the day...or long, sleepless night, 

is how love really works."


Digging the rock out of my bloodied knee after a spill off my training-wheeled bike. 

"Working out" to the Jane Fonda aerobics video, me wearing a leotard and leg warmers and laying out our workout mats (towels) in front of the oppressive Zenith cabinet-style TV. 

Water-color painting in the farmhouse kitchen...and coloring books, color crayons, coloring, coloring, coloring. 

Playing dress-up and pretend wedding in her over-sized high heels and glamorous floor-length nightgowns (oh, the '80s).

Reading together at bedtime...for as far back as I can remember. 

Deftly mixing the Kool-Aid for my roadside entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Waiting for the school bus together.  Pictures on the first day of school.  Every year. 

Kissing boo-boos and wiping tears. 

Trick-or-treating with the Torppas in the minivan, traversing neighborhood to neighborhood of the Naselle Metro Area.

Field trips - from my pre-school trip to the phone company to my senior band trip to Disneyworld.   

Scrubbing my hands and hair with butter, impressing on me the importance of not using chewing gum to string across my bedroom as phone lines for Barbie.  

Ballet recitals - stuffing me into tutus of various gaudy sequins and tulle. Tightly wrapping and endlessly hair-spraying my hair into bobby-pinned buns. 

Hiding me upstairs at the bank between 3:30 and 5:00, me attempting crosswords while she finishes her work day.  

After-school referee between sisters tattling over the phone during those latch-key days. 

"I'll Love You Forever, I'll Like You For Always" - mother-daughter Kindergarten tea.  

Slumber parties - desperately attempting to sleep, vowing never to do this again, "forgetting" that promise when my plea for the next one comes around. 

Master of ceremonies and party planning, chauffeuring van-loads of adolescent girls to Skate World. 

Stern.  But fair. 

Silently guiding me through the unchartered wasteland that is ages 11-14.

Putting me to work at the Wahkiakum County the the Sylvester (as in & Tweety) costume.  

By my side for every hospitalization, from 11-year-old appendectomy to 25-year-old discectomy.  Being my courage, always my mommy. 

Basketball games, volleyball games, basketball games, volleyball games. 

Unofficial photographer, documenting the ritual of teenage preparation before every high school dance. 

Clean - oh so very clean - and neat.  Keeping beautiful homes that no child can recreate, no matter how hard we wish we could. Creating havens we never want to leave. 

Giving her children the childhood she could not have.  Insulating.  Teaching. Nurturing. 

Proud tears at graduation. Empty-nest tears driving away from Pioneer Hall at Linfield College.  

Somehow getting me a job at the Party Store (so...many...balloons).

Forcing me to wear the birthday sombrero and shake the birthday maracas.  

Answering the phone, the comfort of that voice on the other side of the world, in the middle of the night to hear me sob from the Dublin train station.  I've maxed out the credit card...I have to pay for three nights at the hostel...I'm sorry, I'm sorry.  Wiring me money with the patience of a saint. 

Proud tears at graduation.  

Driving around with me, scrutinizing apartment after apartment in the Yamhill Valley.  Co-signing, loaning me security deposits and move-in fees. 

Christmas at home, a rejuvenation from the outside world. Ever promising next year will be a small Christmas.  Never following through.  Spoiling her kids. 

Pulling out the old photo albums, shamelessly embarrassing me in front of my future husband.  Embracing my love, making him the son she never had. 

More saintly patience through the bridezilla moments of a Type A planning a wedding. 

By my side for wedding gown after wedding gown, tulips vs. peonies, to serve alcohol or not to serve alcohol (that is the question).

Giving me the wedding of my dreams. 

The conversations of adulthood. 

Pedicures and girl talk.  Rubbing it in when they think she's my sister. 

Thursday-night dinner. Project Runway viewing. Making our husbands put up with it.   

Board-game competitiveness, always gracious - or at least laughing along - in putting up with the trash talk. 

The perspective of a woman, yet still my mommy, as it becomes more and more difficult to achieve motherhood.  Being there without being asked.  Sitting with me through those nightmare days. Helpless. yet. Empathetic. 

All-embracing of our path. Leaving a check on the counter. Adoring nursery patterns. 

There from the beginning.  To be there until the end.  I may not be the one giving birth, but she will be there for the birth of her first grandchild.

My mentor, my champion, my litmus, my friend. 

When I think of my mom, it is not her eyes and hair and complexion - those things that stare back at me in the mirror - that I cherish. My mother is not DNA.  She is many wonderful, nameless things.  And she is also many beautiful moments in time.  All of which weave a clear and sparkling notion in my mind of true motherhood. All of which resonate so loudly in my heart - the mother I want to be.  Proof that it is not so much our genes (nature) that inform our paths through parenthood as it is our hearts (nurture). 

Thank you, Mommy, for planting these memories ever so gently, firmly, honestly into my life.  You are my inspiration and you are the standard by which I will always compare myself.  Happy Mother's Day.