What Mama Did: the passion and the boldness (five minute friday)

Hi Again-

It’s time for another Five Minute Friday.  Or Saturday, today.  Has a ring to it, don’t you think? Five Minute Saturday?

Anyways-

So, this time it’s different; it’s still a challenge and an idea starter, but this time it’s about motherhood, the memories we so desperately want to make, all Insta-grammed and perfect, and those we remember about our own mothers-all authentic and real, the interior of a life and what motherhood really is, and the memories that really count.

And some days, those memories aren’t piles of perfectly folded laundry, a mother that never raised her voice, or all milk and cookies after school.

And you know what? Thank God.  Because I can’t live up to that expectation, and also: being a mother myself, I want my children to remember the humorous, the silly, the little quirky things about me besides holding me up to the ideal of motherhood to which I fall down besides, exhausted, frequently.

So, this is still Lisa Jo’s challenge, and a Five Minute Friday one (and there are other exceptional examples at her site, here: http://lisajobaker.com/.)  But to be honest, I thought this post, motherhood, my own mom, deserved more than five minutes worth of my time, so I just went all out. Just like Mom. She’ll be proud.

So the challenge: your unique memory (or memories) of your mom, and-

G0-

What Mama Did: the passion and the boldness

Thanks to James Barker for the image.
Thanks to James Barker for the image.

What my mom did: the passion. The boldness.  My mom was not afraid either being bold or searching for passion in life;  she would seek it out, trying her hand at things, whether they failed famously or not.  She tried random things, she cried when she sang favorite hymns, she was frequently overjoyed at small things, she was her passion and emotions.  This still remains with her, still the most memorable part of her to me, the part I both shake my head in confusion while smiling about.

My mom was not afraid.  She wore yellow sundresses with frilly sleeves before anyone in her group was, complete with yellow wooden bead chandelier earrings.  I believe she even found sandals in the exact shade of yellow too, and if there was yellow nail polish around at that time (hint: there wasn’t) she would have probably painted her nails yellow too.  Whatever she did, she did out-loud, proud, and big.  And pastels were frequently pushed to the back of the closet in favor of bold, bright, cannot-miss-for-a-mile colors.

She told us, frequently, as teens, and for some reason, mostly on the way to church that “black and white don’t count as colors.”  She lived life colorfully, and expected her children to follow suit.  In my college years, what I’ve labeled as my “black and white” years, I literally could not come home in black pants, a white top or any version of black or white somewhere on my being without her commenting on it.  Black shoes counted too. Too safe, it was as she seemed to say, about the lack of color.

She hollered loudly at her women’s club events, carrying on, yelling, hooray-ing and dancing down the aisles shash-shaying and smiling when she won door prizes (she won them often, for some reason) even if it was only a case of tennis balls, a sport which she did not play.  Didn’t matter.  She didn’t hold back the excitement of just getting picked randomly out of a hat.  You would have thought she was on The Price is Right, just inherited a million dollars the way she carried on.

It didn’t matter what it was-tennis balls or not-she was all in.  All passion and emotion.

The most amazing thing about this passion struck me recently: our passions became hers.

Her quiet, introverted daughter that just wrote and wrote and painted her rooms different colors; she brought that solemn daughter to the one art museum in their tiny town, to just about every new showing.   She was there, with me, awaiting to learn about art, even though I thought maybe she didn’t enjoy it quite as much as me.  Didn’t matter.  Still there with me to read the exhibition notes through every showing we went to.

Her daughter that would not brush her hair, the one that could give a flip about ballet, the one who only ate 4 foods and only one of those was a fruit-she helped her find her passion on the soccer field, the kickball field, anything that was physical and involving kicking or hitting a ball.  And she attended every one of those soccer/kickball/softball games.  Not sure if she actually cared about the sport or not; and it didn’t matter. Her enthusiasm and participation made you believe you were doing something powerful.  Brave.  Right.  Important.

She believed this so much so, I guess, that it seemed like with ease and fun that she attended all of our drill team events.  ALL of them.  For both my sister and I.  Which would make that 6 years in a row of performances, competitions and high school football games.  She was so passionate about cheering us on that she became the (fittingly named) Spirit Chair for the parents cheering on their children at these games.

She also sewed our costumes, helped us bake for our pep rallies, you name it, she helped with it, did it, or watched.

6 years.  In a row.  Of Friday nights, Saturday nights, Sunday day games.  Of watching high school football.  As her daughter, I looked through that lens when I was a teenager and said, well, yeah, that’s what moms just do.

As a mom now, I am amazed, awed by her commitment to us, her willingness and her patience in putting up with us and football.  I love my children, but let’s just say that if they are involved in football games or performing at half time…attending all these games is certainly going to have to grow on me.

But my mom? Made the best of it.

I came back my first or second year in college one weekend to see my sister perform at half time, and jaw-dropped at the loud yelling and outright confident refree-challenging comments coming from my mom, the apparently seasoned football fan.

In those 6 years, she learned all about football, so much to the point she would boo refs, call the plays, yell “defense!!” when I still had no clue what it meant except that it was a cheer we did in drill team where we made a “d” with our arms and held up a sign of a fence.

When she was in her 40s, her women’s club didn’t offer a class she wanted with the type of exercise she thought was fun, so she created her own: roller skating.

She wasn’t afraid to try something new, be seen as ridiculous, outrageous or just plain weird.  A thing I fear almost as bad as death at this point, being weirdSo what, it seemed my mom said through her actions and her seemingly blithe and easy-going attitude about pursuing what was fun to her. So what? Life goes on.  You only live once, why hang-ups about what you really like to do?

I am still breathless, without words, about this constant passion and boldness of hers.  I am her daughter, and while they say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, the fruit, well, the fruit is still working on bearing some resemblance to the tree’s spirited and dauntless attitude toward life.

I am still the reserved, calculated, hesitant one.  Writing remains my favorite thing, a passion, it is however,  not apparently a passion that is so deeply felt, so deeply moved by that I am not self-conscious about, afraid to be all in, afraid to make mistakes, afraid fall flat on my face.  Passion, my mom has taught me, makes you fearless. I am still working on fearless.

My mother has taught me more than this, in fact, she has taught me to be better than this.  Life is not meant to be lived calculated, careful, cautious.

Life is meant to be lived, fully.  Unafraid.  Like I tell my children, a line stolen from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the one I carry with me in my heart:  “I gave you life so you can live it.”  Seems I’ve learned a thing or two from her, sure.  But living the learning, living the lesson, being unafraid of your passions and yourself, doing it; well, I’m still the student.  And learning as I go, absorbing all the beautiful lessons that she’s taught me.

Five Minute Friday – Afraid

I’m doing this 5 minute writing challenge again..and late. Again.  Same old song and dance, just sort of new move in the dance each week.  Today, posting on Saturday evening.  And you know what? That’s ok.  I take Five Minute Friday as a suggestion to start thinking about writing.  Still. Only takes me a day (or so) to react.  Yes, I’m aware of the irony, and the name Five Minute Friday.  But, regadless-I’m still giving myself grace and yet also a pat on a back for doing it.

A reminder in case you’ve missed it, this is the Friday Five Minute writing challenge, and the details are below in case  you want to play sometime…

This is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  And then you have to be brave (or at least pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

Afraid

Thanks to ponsulak for the image.
Thanks to ponsulak for the image.

I don’t really want to write about this topic, I’ve been putting it off, if I’m truly honest with myself.

Afraid.

Who wants to write about that?

All the thoughts in my mind go to the scary things, afraid of the dark, afraid of getting hurt, afraid of what bad could potentially come upon me or my family.

Afraid.

What a not-so-strong feeling it inspires in me.

And honestly, afraid, some days, is what my faith is.  Fear-based.  Looks a lot more like a bargain plea, a prayer of insurance with God-prayers for safety and well-being and my ability to handle it all because I’m afraid.  Afraid I can’t do it all on my own.

Which, in reality, is the first step in faith.  Prayers.  Faith so small you wonder if you even possess it at all.

The other? Loving and trusting God, and remembering to do that, even when I am afraid. To remember He’s got this even if the afraid things happen.  And in that, He has me too.

The Experts

thanks to the artist who calls him/herself prozac1 for this image.
thanks to the artist who calls him/herself prozac1 for this image.

The experts say that happiness and sadness can’t exist at once.  That it’s impossible to be sad while you’re smiling, that it’s hard to laugh while your heart is breaking.

I disagree.

I believe you can be happy and sad at the same time; know sorrow and joy and how they deeply and mysteriously intertwine, but it’s only until you’ve had that experience of both joy and sorrow in a matter of days, or for some, the intertwining in a matter hours, that you truly start to understand this concept of both emotions co-existing.

It’s the occurs when you of course, are not expecting it.   It occurs when your whole world is brilliantly crashing down before you, a family member close to you dying.  It’s inevitable you know, it was obvious you know, but it’s coming still shocks you like a tidal wave you weren’t expecting, that phone call during Friday night dinner.  The phone call you had to take while sitting down.

It’s that moment then, after dinner your husband suggests that the best thing for the family is to dance, yes, dance, and so he turns on your mix, those songs on the iPod that you especially love, and you all dance like you’re crazy, and the 3-year-old is actually the wisest sage as shaking and shimmy-ing with awkward body movements is the truest and quickest way to joy sometimes.  And then she knowingly blurts out “FAMILY! -” when the Lumineers sing it, and then she yells out again the rest of her comments- “like what we are! Like us!” and you at once are so struck but the insight and utter surprise of her figuring out this beautiful concept, that you are blown away, a mix of happy and sad about knowing and appreciating the paper-thin fragility of life that of course, all you can do is cry happy and sad tears, tears of knowing real joy in deep sadness.

And it’s when the light is pitch-perfect, that golden-pink late afternoon color that as it sets over the trees, spills gloriously onto everything with a touch of warmth.  And it’s when you notice this at the park, your child, beaming with smiles and jubilant laughter and this golden hue on her face and your husband, at peace on the bench bathed also in this beautiful light, and knowing that in the drop of a feather, the blink of an eye, the turn of head, it can be all different, it can all change in a matter of minutes.  Knowing not that it will happen, but when, all the while trying to appreciate the small minutes in life where things are absolutely perfect in their own way.