Never Enough

13 05 2012

You were a stay-at-home mom, who married in 1954 at age twenty-two, and by deliberate design gave birth to four children before you reached thirty. And I bet if I stopped right there and said nothing more, no one would have the slightest clue who you really were.

Because June Cleaver you were not.

You were more comfortable wielding a paint brush than a spatula. More at home behind a microphone than in front of a stove. A complicated recipe unnerved you much more than a television camera.

You were a free spirit, and you gave your children the gift of freedom.

You recognized that we were not extensions of you, but our own selves, and you encouraged us to explore all the possibilities of what that meant.

You were fun and funny. Playful and passionate. True, your temper could be a bit on the heated side, but your love was every bit as intense.

And we flourished in that love. All four of us. You instilled in us a confidence that didn’t bow to the crowd. You gave us the wide-angled view and by your own zeal for life, made us hunger to live it to the full. I can still see and hear you, rinsing dinner plates while belting jazz standards, and none of my friends understood why I could sing those songs (or any songs) without self-consciousness or fear.

I never thought about it. Joie de vivre was mine by birthright.

You never baked a cookie in your life. Never frosted a cake. But you lavished love after your own fashion. Hand-painted paper dolls with clothes that matched the ones in our own closets. And when we were sick? You danced into the room with a stack of brand new color books, let us select the one we wanted, and then sat for hours on the edge of the bed, coloring pictures with us.

You made those pages come to life, and with them our achy little bodies.

You were model gorgeous, and I always hoped I would look just like you. But your hair was dark brunette, and mine blond. Your eyes a dreamy green, and mine blue. You were taller by at least four inches, and your figure had curves mine never managed to attain.

But you never once made me feel less than beautiful.

And as the years passed, you shared all my milestones, delighting in my successes, cheering me up in my disappointments. You never tried to force me to be who I wasn’t, and when Jesus invaded my life at sixteen and — from where you sat — turned me into a fanatic, you asked questions and listened to my answers, and you let go and let me stretch these wings, test them on the winds of real life, and soar into a faith you couldn’t fully understand.

You gave me life. You gave me a safe place to grow and flourish. And you gave me the freedom to become who God created me to be. I’ve thanked you through poems, and I’ve thanked you through songs. I’ve sought for words to thank you again and again, but I could never, ever thank you enough.

And now we live across the street from each other. I see you almost every day, but in a lot of ways our roles have been switched. I make your lunch and I give you a hand up. I look for creative ways to bring a bit of joy into your day, and so we sit at the keyboard and sing the old jazz standards. But you tire quickly and often just want to go lie down.

This Mother’s Day I’ve been trying to think of something I could give you, and as I wrote this post I had an idea. Get ready, because some day soon I’m going to dance into the room with a surprise for you. A stack of brand new color books.

And I’ll need your help to bring them to life.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

I love you.
Jeanne

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23 responses

13 05 2012
debcolarossi

I don’t know what to say…
but my heart is both bursting and breaking.
love to you and your Mother .
xooxoxoo

14 05 2012
Robin Lawrimore

Yes.

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Deb. Both the bursting and the breaking are gifts to me. Much love. xo

13 05 2012
FlowerLady

That was beautiful and you both are beautiful!

FlowerLady

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Aw, thanks. {blush}

13 05 2012
Patricia Hunter

This is precious, Jeanne…you and your mother are so beautiful. The coloring books – what a sweet surprise that would be. My daddy was never comfortable in his artistic gifts – but in the years of his long goodbye, he’d sit at the kitchen table and color for hours. One of the pages he colored for me I framed and hung on my wall.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mother!!!

xox

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Patricia! I’m so encouraged that your daddy enjoyed coloring, and I’m sure that framed page is a treasure.

Happy Mother’s (and Mimi’s) Day to you, too! xo

13 05 2012
Miz Melly

Ah Jeanne, how beautiful. Now I see where your very beautiful mothering gifts came from. I love you and your family so much. I hope you’ve spent a lovely day with them. May the great Mothering God bless you and yours, m

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Thank you, sweet Melly. I love you and your family, too.

13 05 2012
Tara

Very beautiful. My first baby is due in a month, and I hope I can bless my child in such wonderful ways.

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Tara. And congratulations! I’m sure you will bless your child in innumerable ways, and I assure you the blessings flow right back to you.

Prayers as you prepare to welcome your child. xo

13 05 2012
Sharon D

Oh, so sweet, Jeanne!

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Sharon. xo

14 05 2012
Robin Lawrimore

Does she share your faith now? With lunch and tunes, I know she is blessed beyond measure because you have risen up to call her “Blessed!” Thank you for sharing the words and the pictures.

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Oh, Robin, I wish I could answer that question with certainty! Please pray? And thank you for your kind words.

14 05 2012
Robin Lawrimore

I will pray. Jesus knows just how to scoop us up from where we are… at any age. Love and blessings.

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Yes! This is my comfort — His sovereign, unstoppable love. Thank you so much for your prayers.

14 05 2012
Tina

Beautiful. I love this. Your mom sounds so wonderful. 🙂

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Tina. I’m so glad.

14 05 2012
Dawn McCloskey

What a beautiful story of your mom. I love that she was not the “typical” June Cleaver Mom that so many of us mothers feel we have to be in order to be considered “good” moms. I cried throughout, thank you for sharing. I am very lucky to have a wonderful mother, it is good to hear the good mom stories rather than the horrible that is put out over the TV and internet. I love that Ann Voskamp gave us a place to honor our mothers publicly, to show the world that the love God placed in mothers hearts is still strong and beautiful.

14 05 2012
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Dawn! Your kind words and tears are a gift. And Ann is a treasure. Love to you and your wonderful mother. xo

15 05 2012
Deborah Carr

I suspect the greatest gift for any mother is to have her daughter see and accept her as she truly is.

17 05 2012
jeannedamoff

You’re probably right, Deborah. Wouldn’t it be refreshing and freeing if we believed we could be accepted without pretense? Love you.

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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