Nineteen years ago today, my mom went to be with Jesus.
I really have no idea how any of the heaven stuff works, but based on two dreams that I’ve had, I think that she can see me, and my girls, at times. Heaven is everything that could bring joy, and I think that would bring her joy. As long as Goo isn’t pitching a fit. Although, being a Mom herself, she might chuckle watching me go through the same things she did.
I still miss her. A lot. Some people think that’s odd, it’s been casually implied that maybe I need therapy. I humbly submit to those people who the next time they lose the one person they can’t live without (as a child anyway), let me know how long it takes before you’re like, “Meh. No big deal.” I don’t wallow in grief, obviously, but there will always be part of me that wishes she was here.
I was thinking about her the other day, the memories I have, the memories I wished I had, and I’m creating a Mommy Bucket List in her honor. Things I was able to do with her, things I wanted to do, and things I know she wanted to do, that I will do with my girls.
- Watch “Gone with the Wind” while letting my girls wear my fanciest dresses and highest heals. She had a satin-like, light pink dress with flowers that always made me feel like Scarlet O’Hara, minus the emotional tantrums. And because it had puffy eighties sleeves, I was so. dang. awesome. (Note to self: this has to happen once they’ve already heard the “D” word. Potty mouths.)
- Have a picnic in a particular park, as a family. I never got to do this one, but there was a park nearby when I was growing up, with a waterfall, and I always wanted to go on a family picnic there. We’ve done this once before Goo and Smush came along, but now that they’re here, it needs to happen again.
- Celebrate a good report card with a trip to the park. Are you seeing a theme here? My primary way of expressing love is quality time. You can buy me 1,000 gifts, but if I don’t get that time, it kind of means nothing. Some people are just the opposite, but that’s how I roll. In fourth grade, I got my first report card ever with straight A+’s across the board. My mom asked me to pick a special reward. I asked if we could walk to the park. Doesn’t take much to keep me happy.
- Bake cookies together, and let the kids lick the bowl and spoon. I already do this quite a bit. But now I have something I can cross off. And really, what’s better than cookie dough?
- Build a snow fort, followed by hot chocolate with marshmallows. Confession: I hate playing in the snow. I know as a mom I’m supposed to inherently love it, but I hate the cold, I hate snow, and while I love my kids, I’d rather be snuggling under a blanket. But in honor of my mom, who bundled up and did that with me one wintry day, I will do it with my girls, too.
- Do a beach day with a friend and her kids. My mom was a teacher at the school where I attended, and she was good friends with my Kindergarten teacher (who, to this day, I still view as the greatest teacher of all time. Ever.) I remember going to the beach one summer with Mrs. P. and her son. It was pretty much the highlight of my life. And although three small children near the water makes me need an inhaler, I’m sure I could take one for the team to make this happen.
- Have the kind of relationship with my daughters as teens where they can talk to me about anything. I can remember my mom telling me that as I grew older, she never wanted us to grow apart. She wanted us to have the kind of relationship where even through the tumultuous hormone years, I still talked to her, still hung out with her, still went to her with all my questions. From day one, I have been working towards this with my little loves. And though my mom never had the chance to see it through, I hope she can see as I live it out with my girls.
- Raise girls who know that time spent is always, always, more valuable than money spent. This isn’t just because I’m a quality time junkie. She raised me to value people, expressions of love, and just hanging out, more than sparkly presents. I have yet to see an adult who says, “I know my parents loved me because they bought me expensive things.” I remember a time when my uncle, whom I referred to as (and my girls now refer to as) Uncle Bobo, came down to take me out for an uncle/niece day. He took me to Toys R Us and told me to pick something out. I wish there were words to describe the awe that I felt. Things were tough a lot as a kid. And this was just…magic. He suggested a doll with a big bow on her head that lit up. I said I couldn’t, because that was just too expensive. He snagged it, bought it, and I went home feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. Not because I had an expensive doll, but because my uncle took me out for a day where it didn’t matter how stressful things were at home.
- Raise girls who know that modesty is always more attractive. “See that girl in the skin-tight mini dress? She’s classy and worth waiting for,” said no one ever. My mom taught me that a woman of God dresses modestly, that immodest attire is meant for her hubby’s eyes only, and that you can still be stylish without being, well, slutty. My mom was always, always beautiful in my eyes. Even in the eighties, and that’s saying a lot.
- Make my kids take responsibility and do regular chores. I hated – HATED – cleaning my room and washing dishes. I argued. I cried. I dragged it out longer than it took to build the pyramids. But I still had to do it. Because kids, even young ones, need responsibility. They need to know that life isn’t going to hand them everything on a silver platter. Or, if it does, they’ll become heinous adults that make me throw up in my mouth a little bit. She put up with the tantrums. So can I. I hope.
- Raise my girls with a secure love. Secure love is the kind of love that makes your kid know that no matter what happens, they can’t erase your love for them. It comes from being there, from sacrifice, from pouring in, from doing things you hate because it means the world to your munchkins, from disciplining them to show them that you do actually care if they get hurt. And from lots, and lots, and lots, of snuggles.
I’d say that’s a good jumping off point. Nineteen years, and these are the things that still stick with me, even though I lost her when I just ten years old. Not a bad legacy, Mom. Not a bad legacy.