I never had to want for love growing up in my house. Love was generous, kind and teeming to the brim.
As a teenager, my mother dreamed of being a wife and mom. When she had my oldest sister, Tina, at just twenty years old, her eyes lit up like wildfire staring down at her newly born babe in an old Polaroid photo from 1974. Returning the gaze was the manifestation of her dream and the entryway into an entirely different world.
Thirteen years later, after seeing numerous doctors and experimenting with various fertility methods, the long awaited arrival of Kelley occurred. My parents were delighted to finally have another baby, and Tina was thrilled to be an older sister. June of 1989 appeared, and I came along, unexpectedly and unplanned. Now there were three daughters.
My earliest memory of my mother is her wrapping towels around Kelley and I after a bath, as though the pink striped towels were Nuns' habits, she'd laugh and say, "Well hello, Sister Kelley! Well hello, Sister Danielle!" We'd giggle in the tiny downstairs bathroom with the blue walls and open window into the fecund yard, and stand enamored by the ease and gentleness my mother so effortlessly possessed.
Every night there was a home cooked meal on the table. These were the days when the only way to get in touch with someone was to call the house phone and if someone dared call during dinner time, my parents would groan, "Who's calling at this time? Must be one of those scam calls!" No one answered the phone when sharing a meal with family. If my sister and I were playing tag or hide and seek with the kids on the block, we'd have to put our games on pause as all of our mothers yelled out the front door, "Dinner!"
The only television program that was ever allowed at 5pm was golf for my dad, and that was only if there was a large tournament happening. I can still smell my mom's buttery mashed potato recipe hovering above the stove, and see my dad in the recliner with the remote in his hand, commenting on the game, "How do you miss that hole? Come on! Clare, you won't believe it...Mickelson just missed the only shot he had at winning this thing." My mother, often feigning interest, would reply, "Oh no, you're kidding!"
Kelley and I would walk in the back door, out of breath, with dirt on our hands, smiles on our faces, and set the table, before discussing the day's event over breaded chicken, beans, salad, and potatoes.
At night, we'd watch shows as a family. The usual line up was Seventh Heaven, Everwood, Promised Land, and Touched by an Angel. My mother is a devote Catholic, so the shows we'd watch as a family when Kelley and I were kids were typically spiritually themed. When we became teenagers, 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland was the highlight of our week. Although, looking back, I'm not sure how we transitioned from watching a show about angels in human form helping small town folk to following the life threatening adventures of counter-terrorist agent, Jack Bauer. I guess my mom eased up over the years?
Every birthday had two celebrations: one at our favorite restaurant, (mine was Applebees) and one at home with our choice of a home cooked meal. The morning of our birthdays, we'd wake up to a candle in an English muffin and a present to open. At night, we'd receive another gift after blowing out yet another set of candles and taking photos around the cake.
When we received awards, performed in theatre, played in softball games, participated in art shows, or graduated from school, my parents would be the first ones in the audience, clapping and cheering us on. My dad coached our sports teams and built the sets for our plays. My mom supervised our girl scouts trips and helped the backstage crew during our performances.
If we were upset over a breakup or a poor test grade, they were there.
If we got in trouble in school or with friends, they were there.
If we broke an arm or sprained an ankle, they were there.
If we made dumb decisions and needed assistance, they were there.
They were always there and to this day, they still are.
I know how lucky I am to have my parents. I know not everyone has the same experiences with their family or positive memories of childhood, and because of that, I cultivate gratitude everyday for what I'm blessed with.
I also know women who are trying their hardest to become mothers, who've been disappointed time and time again, and are still holding their heads high with hope to one day be as caring of a mother as my mom is.
I know people who recently lost their parents and can no longer experience a familiar, warm embrace.
For wherever you are in life, whoever you are, and whatever you're going through, my hope is that you can experience a glimpse of the love I've felt throughout my life and the security of knowing that those who are closest to you, will always be there for you, no matter what.
I dedicate this Sunday Session to my mother, all mothers, soon to be mothers, stepmothers, and those still waiting to be mothers. You are, and will be, the key to making someone else's life not only filled, but overflowing with love.
Happy Mothers Day!