Earlier this week, I posted all about my sweet love, Jackson. The boy who made me a mama for the first time. Now let’s get real for a second…motherhood didn’t come super natural to me. In fact, for the longest time, I didn’t know if I even wanted to have kids! Jerod and I had to have super candid conversations when we were dating about if that decision would be alright with him. Of course…things changed! And I couldn’t be happier with how it all worked out. Look at me now…I stay at home with the boys so my entire life is literally about being a mama. 🙂
One part of being a mom that I had taken away from me before my “motherhood time” was the ability to have my mom there to help me through. To vent, to seek advice from, to compare notes, and to just be there to be a Grandma to my boys. My mom was taken from us in July of 2013 after a long, tireless battle with cancer. First, breast. Then, blood.
Although she isn’t with me for a daily chat sesh, or to quietly smirk when I say, “These kids are going to kill me one day!” I know she watches over me and sends me things I need when I least expect them. She may never have gotten to see me as a mother, but you can be sure she taught me so many lessons that I carry with me each and every day.
When I finished college, I took a huge risk and moved from Pittsburgh to Kansas City to take a teaching position. I couldn’t find a job in PA so I either had to take a year (or two…or three!) to substitute teach, or I take a job elsewhere. My parents were heartbroken that I was going to move away. I knew only a handful of people in KC and didn’t have family closer than 1,000 miles away. Risky? Yes. Scary as all get-up for my family? Completely.
Through all of that, you know what my mom did? She supported me. She sent me on my way with hope, with love, and a card that I still hold with me today that says just how proud of me she is. She was proud to raise three independent children and she had big dreams for us. My mom fully instilled a sense of risk in each one of her children that sent us into the successful lives we lead today. What a blessing she did!
So you know what happened after I moved to KC? Within months, I had setup a massively successful career in education, but I had suffered a rough break-up. I called my mom to talk through it all and seek her advice. Her words…”Oh gosh, Rachel. You aren’t moving home, are you?” I was speechless! How could she be so blunt and cut right to the point? Where were the condolences? Where were the “I’ll book you a flight right now” coming through the line?
But she was right. I loved everything about Kansas City and was making it a home. I had so much going for me that I didn’t have in Pittsburgh any longer, and I had become an adult in just a few short months.
If she hadn’t said those words to me, I would have made a huge mistake. I probably would have looked elsewhere for work. I would have missed meeting my husband. My sweet babies wouldn’t be in this world. My life would be completely different, and for that, I thank you, mom!
Making a Home a Home
Both my parents enjoyed fixing up our childhood house and making it a home for us. There was always a project going on, and were always rooms that were being painted or decorated. My mom would find that perfect paint color, have my dad paint the whole room, and then decide on another that she liked better. My dad would roll his eyes and we would all laugh, but there was something to be said for her constant need to make it better. She wanted to make a home that we all felt comfortable being in. That we could gather and talk for hours on end. My mom made a home for us that we all wanted to live in and wanted to come back to.
I married a man that reminds me of my father daily. He enjoys working on our house and takes so much pride in his work. And as for me, I strive each day to create a home that we all want to come back to at the end of a long day. A home that is filled with love, laughter, and conversation. Just like the home my mom built.
Cook From the Heart
When I was getting ready to move away from home, I decided it was as good of time as any to learn my family recipes. I was determined to leave home with an arsenal of my mom’s meals that I could whip up at any point. As I watched my mom get ingredients out for her stuffed peppers, I asked her to give me exact directions, amounts, and ingredients. She just laughed and said, “I don’t know. It’s stuffed peppers! You just make them.” 🙂 Ohhh Mary.
My mom cooked a meal for us almost every night. And every night she made us something that we loved and devoured. She just knew how to cook. What tasted good and what went well together. It was like she cooked from her soul each time she got behind that stove.
We don’t need to follow things step by step. Take a page out of my mom’s book and just “make them.” Make something that comes from your heart and soul instead of from someone else.
Passing On Your Faith
I was baptized Catholic, but rarely attended church when I was young. It wasn’t actually until college when I made the personal choice to be Confirmed and receive my first Holy Communion. My parents were spiritual beings, but they weren’t church-goers. They were strong in faith, but not active in their religion.
However, when times were at their very worst, and my dad was passing from esophageal cancer and my mom was battling her second bout of cancer, my mother prayed. And she prayed HARD. Each night saying the rosary and having conversations with God.
During the absolute worst of times for my family, my mother didn’t turn away and question God in his doings. She didn’t get angry for what was happening to us. She just got closer to Him. It wasn’t a time to be angry, but it was a time to believe that there is a better place and a reason for his plan.
My mom passed on to me a faith that I never found in the church or in my classes. I saw faith that was so secure and strong that I want to pass on to my own children. There is an unconditional love from above that can get you through all of life’s hardships, and I couldn’t have realized that kind of love without my mom.
“These commands that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
I don’t get to talk to or see my mom everyday like most women my age, but I feel like I was given a lot in the short time I did have her. I thank you, mom, from the bottom of my heart for the life lessons that made me who I am today.