I’m writing a series of simple posts about why I love my (immediate) family. That’s all. This is the first installment, because today is my mother’s birthday! Happy birthday, Mom! All quality photographs courtesy of Meredith Perdue.
Throughout our young lives, the four of us never had any doubt in our mind that we mattered to our mother. She stayed home, but she wasn’t merely a “stay-at-home mom.” She was a full-time teacher along with being a managing partner in a successful gift store. She cooked every meal and cleaned every room. She taught us how to read and how to be kind to others. She led our family Bible studies every morning. And she never seemed weary.
I knew she was special when I was a child, but now that I am out of the house, I realize how seriously exceptional she is. There’s no one else like her. I don’t know anyone who could have done everything she did without caving, snapping, or surrendering. She sets an extremely high bar for motherhood, one that I am already anxious I will never be able to meet. But she never credits herself with her shimmering maternal abilities; she always says that God gives her the grace to accomplish everything she does.
Mom and I have always been close. I was her firstborn, after all. Sometimes I wonder if our closeness was dictated not only by temperament and birth order but also by our physical similarity. My mother and I share almost identical bodies. I was the only child who got her curly hair. If something weird happens to my body (like your left leg throbbing in pain when your period is coming), I ask her, because there’s a 95 percent chance that she has that similar quirk, too. Though our coloring differs slightly, we’re built like mirror images of each other. If I had a daughter who looked like my twin, I’d probably pay careful attention to her, too.
When I was a super-dramatic and volatile teenager, I complained about this careful attention that I received from her. I was probably the most parented child among the four of us. Kelsey and Sam were born good-natured and sweet; I was not. Grace was (and still is) as stubborn as a mule, but she yielded to instruction and adapted quickly. I was not so malleable. I didn’t take kindly to correction. And so, for most of my young life, I was my mother’s project. I needed (and still need) a lot of guidance, discipline, and stark reminders. I vividly remember those hour-long lectures I’d receive from her in my bedroom. Parenting was not a passing duty to my mother; it was her entire life. She wasn’t content to let us slip by with half-hearted morality. Where most parents might spend an hour disciplining a child for an egregious mistake, my mother would spend six.
She’s very beautiful. I often wish I looked more like her. Strangers often ask if she’s our sister. We roll our eyes, having heard it so many times, but these people are serious. She looks 10 or 15 years younger than her actual age. I think this is because she has a good heart and because my father keeps her young.
Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!