Every Mother’s Day, I have a terrible time finding a card that remotely reflects the relationship I have with my mother.
My mom is in her eighties now and we have always had a good relationship, free of drama and never short of love. My mother has always been a wonderful role model. But the cards available all have paragraphs of gooey prose that in no way communicate what I want to say to my mother.
I want a card that says my mother has good habits.
This sounds a little dull — and my mother is not at all dull. She is a woman with many and varied interests. She is an enthusiastic biker, quilter, camper and reader. She is a wonderful baker, a great entertainer, a funny and interesting conversationalist, and a spiritual woman. To say that her good habits are the thing I admire most sounds like damning with faint praise. But more and more, I realize how important good habits are and how much I have benefitted from her example.
My mother puts things in small containers.
Whether it is a box of precisely the right size to store leftovers for a future meal, a small satchel for a weekend’s worth of clothes, a tiny vase for a single flower, or a little tin for a few small homemade cookies — everything is contained in a small, practical container. From this habit, I learned not to waste. I learned that quality was much more important than quantity. I learned that just the right amount is usually as good as a large amount — and often better.
I don’t have a single recollection of my mother saying any of these things, but I have more memories than I can count of instances where she stored what was needed, made use of what was available, and made something beautiful on a small scale.
My mother does things immediately.
She does not talk about walks she is going to take later — she puts on her shoes. She doesn’t complain how the house needs cleaning. She cleans. She does not delay or procrastinate. She starts to do whatever she thinks should be done and (usually before I am aware of it) she is doing the thing I would still be contemplating.
I don’t remember any lectures about the evils of procrastination, but I remember her looking at the clock and saying, “I have 30 minutes before I start dinner, I’m going out for a walk!”
My mother has nice rituals.
Every day she reads a devotional in the morning, she writes in her diary, she exercises. Every evening she has one glass of wine with cheese and crackers and keeps current on the news. She sets a table, even if there are only two people eating. She sends cards, even though she is on Facebook. She volunteers, keeps up with friends, calls her daughters (at least one of whom has been known to go off for long periods of time without much communication) just to say “hello.”
My mother never said anything to me about creating rituals in life, but I learned from her how comforting it is to have things done repeatedly and with care. I learned how valued people feel when an effort is made to treat every meal, every gathering, as if it is worthy of fresh flowers.
I never found the card I wanted. I never found a card that said, “Thanks for good habits and fresh flowers and keeping things in small containers.”
Maybe that’s OK. I’ll tell her next time I see her.
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.