Celebrating my Mother
In honor of Mother’s Day, 2015, I am starting a new mini-series on my blog to highlight the amazing examples of traditional and nontraditional motherhood.
Science behind the Series
I won’t turn this into a cognitive science post, but people quickly categorize people into groups. One label includes the mother or not a mother tag. Pause though and think about how diverse the category is. Mothers aren’t just mothers – they’re individuals who make up a group of people with shared and unique experiences. I hope after reading this post you’re inspired to think deeply about who those people in your life are and how they got to be who they are. Realize that if there are gaps in your knowledge you can fill them by asking them their story.
The Mother of All Mothers – My Mom
Although I don’t blog about her specifically as much as I could, innately my mother is a part of everything I do, she’s the inspiration for doing everything I do. People all the time ask me how I can be working on so many different things and I get it from my mom. I am persistent (when others might throw in the towel) because my mom taught me there is always another way.
WARNING: I won’t even try to humble brag – this is full on adoration (the same you feel for those that inspire you in your life!)
My mother’s love language is Acts of Service (though remember this is another category and people go deeper than just one category):
“For these people, actions speak louder than words”
Life Giver (literally!)
You don’t have to give birth to give life. She went to (way out of state/continental US) college in Hawaii to become a nurse (progressively pursuing a career before it was “cool”) and takes care of others with that training.
She attentively monitored and managed wards of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients (whose heartbeats and vitals she literally watched for long-shifts of time). She diagnosed and tended to students as a school nurse, providing clean clothes and food to those who didn’t get it at home. She was in the classrooms teaching kids about their body with petri dishes of cultured germs, animal hearts dissections from local German butchers, and the importance of dental hygiene. She might have felt because we moved around so much incomplete because she didn’t get to formally complete what she started. For some people that’s really hard to get past. For me though it is easy. Everything she started became a new part of who she is and was trickled down to our family.
When she went to the University of Washington (go Huskies!) she taught us is it never too late to go back to school. She got into a competitive Nurse Practitioner program and I learned that my mom is a math rockstar and I need to be too. With my dad stationed in other parts of the world she maintained an immaculate household where we had well balanced meals every day, help with homework every night, fun playdates with friends, church multiple times a week, and enriching extracurricular activities. I don’t know how she did it because I still can’t do it. I don’t remember seeing her do her own homework over any of those activities (though I did steal her Mission Impossible theme presentation for one of my own group projects.) She is always there, the epitome of the phrase “be here now.”
Voice for the Deaf
I remember this man that made up the sign language interpretation program at our church, and my mom was drawn to the graceful, physical language. She could not get enough. She quickly learned to sign the words of the church songs and wanted to be able to sign the entire services (for the deaf people but I’m sure to also be able to offer back up support to whomever needed it.) She quickly graduated from the classes offered through church and started to take classes in the community college. Limited by the schools that offered it she commuted far distances to find the programs she needed to take. I remember my dad being able to be home for one of her graduation ceremonies and us cheering loudly from the balcony as she crossed the stage. She brought awareness to me of this isolated community of people who can see but are not heard, bringing a voice that echoes in the innovation ideas I explore. During the 2015 (and 2014) Big Give SA, I was inspired to donate money to Sunshine Cottage, an organization that helps “children with hearing loss become part of a community centered on enriching lives and improving listening, language and speech.”
Eyes for the Blind
A couple of years ago the lessons continued into Braille transcription. A serial learner, she wanted to think of ways to not only supplement retirement but also her knowledge. She learned how to transcribe Braille on a keyboard specific for that from a professor that was the only one in town. The professor actually moved to Phoenix literally the only class in town. This new knowledge of the blind community brought awareness to the unique challenges that blind people face and the lack of technology and resources they have. It also was a great conversation opener when I reached out to one of my blind co-workers at work who eventually even brought me to the Lighthouse San Antonio where they train and employee visually disabled people.
Threads of Love
My mother learned to sew and quilt (there’s a difference!) from her grandmother and she is on a lifelong pilgrimage to the quilting mecca. She needed clothes growing up so she made them. I needed homecoming dresses – she made those too. Medieval renaissance project = dress from that period, easy A+.
The quilts she makes (or restores) are stories with memories embedded into them. They are milestones that capture life events like the Elephant quilt she sent me to a prestigious preschool with and they are made with love. There are few things my mom made us do that were for her growing up but they were either historical (which were good for us anyways) or they were quilt related trek (and she’d weave white river rafting along the journey.) Just like everything else, her quilts are focused and purposeful down to the thread, fabric, and design. The fabrics she uses are lovingly recycled from her father’s tie collection, her daughter’s sorority shirts (my sister’s), and my favorite shirts (that I couldn’t get rid of.) She’s made quilts out of shirts from my dad’s running races around the world (that he beams with pride at.)
She makes them for parents to coddle babies who are pre-mature or still-born (Threads of Love), to bring warmth to the walls of hospitals and hospices, and security (for kids whose parents are in prison.)
That’s right, she answered the call for volunteer quilters to make quilts for children of incarcerated parents. The parent is presented the quilt and wraps their scent around it before later giving it to their child. My mom’s kid was 18 years old and requested Winnie the Pooh:
Margaret’s Hope Chest has 61 volunteer quilters making quilts for 118 children with an incarcerated parent. Of those 61 volunteers, 4 are victims of crime, 5 had a parent incarcerated when they were a child and 4 have a family member in prison right now. WrappedInHope
Even as I write this she is volunteering at an urban school to help a boy make his dream come true of creating a quilt that reminds him of his family’s trip to NYC.
>> Quilts are so complex that I want to highlight their intricacies in a later blog post.
We get so busy in life that it is not easy to stop and think. Literally we don’t make that time for ourselves. I really encourage you to make the time and write about someone you love. Give yourself permission and time to walk down memory lane today. Honor her by thinking about what makes them. Think about the memories and ask for their help filling in the gaps.