Thursday, May 9, 2013

Don't Just Listen to Your Mother--Watch Her

            When the producers of the show Listen to Your Mother called for auditions in Oklahoma, the word listen threw me for a loop. I couldn’t think of anything to write. I mean, yeah, when I was growing up, there were plenty of time-honored, universal “mommy-isms”: Wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident and must go to the hospital; if you keep making that face, it will freeze like that; and in my particular situation, nice Baptist girls don’t dance. (They did. They just didn’t admit it to their parents or their pastor.) But I couldn’t think of anything my mother had told me that was particularly unusual, funny, or riveting and certainly not enough to be the focus of an essay.   
            But at last week’s Oklahoma City performance of Listen to Your Mother, I realized that most of the stories weren’t so much about what mothers said. They were about what mothers did. And with that epiphany, I had lots to tell.
            As with most mothers, there’s not enough time or space to list every loving, selfless action I saw my mother perform. But here are a few that stand out in my memory:

Sewing. In a home where there was plenty of money for needs but little for luxuries, my sister and I were very well dressed. Easter, Christmas, even an end-of-school picnic—any occasion that called for something special to wear sent Mama to her sewing machine, making sure her girls were fashionistas before fashionistas was even a word.  

Traveling. Mama inherited her own mother’s love of travel and insisted our family do a lot of it. Money might have been tight, but I don’t recall a single summer without a vacation. I’m not talking about fancy cruises or airline flights to exotic places. I’m talking about treks across the country, sometimes in a car with no air conditioning and sometimes towing a camping trailer. But these were trips to places that were exotic to us: Washington, D.C., Yellowstone Park, New York City, Canada, Mexico...the list goes on and on. Compared to some of our friends whose total traveling experience consisted of a three-day trip to Six Flags, my sister, brother, and I received a quality, fun (most of the time), and first-hand education as a result of our journeys. And on that topic...  
Mama still models a love of
reading and learning.
Teaching by example. Neither Mama nor Daddy went to college, but both valued and modeled reading and learning. I cannot remember anyone ever overtly stating that I would go to college, but I always knew it was expected of me. And to ensure it happened, my mother took on an extra job of driving a kindergarten van to help pay for it.  

Worshiping. As in many homes, Mama was the spiritual leader in our family. She was the one who insisted we go to church and the one who made the effort to get a family of five ready every Sunday. I didn’t always appreciate this, and there was a time in my life when I stopped going to church altogether. When my mother told me I needed to take my daughter to church, I responded that as a teacher I’d seen a lot of students who were “church-goers” and I hadn’t noticed it helping them all that much. “That’s probably true,” she said. “Taking children to church doesn’t guarantee they’ll turn out well. But it does guarantee parents did everything they could to help them turn out well.” She offered wise advice, and in this instance, I listened  

            There isn’t enough space or time to mention all my mother’s caring actions over the years. And I’m sure many of you have your own endless list. You might not be able to write them all down, but why not share one or two of them with me and other readers? And, if possible, you just might share them with your mother.

Happy Mothers’ Day to Mama and to all mothers everywhere!



  1. Another lovely tribute, Dee Dee!

    And to ensure it happened, my mother took on an extra job of driving a kindergarten van to help pay for it.

    This part choked me up a little. I'd love to meet your mother. :)

  2. How fortunate you are to have her still giving you examples to follow!

    1. Yes, Martha, I've been very blessed to have my mother this long.

  3. Your mother sounds wonderful. Maybe we'll see you onstage at next year's Listen to Your Mother!

  4. Dee Dee I hope you are planning to expand any one of these into a submission for LTYM. I'm working on mine! Wonderful tribute Dee Dee. Hope your Mother's Day was great!

  5. Loved reading this, Dee Dee. Saw some of my own mom in here - things I'd forgotten. Your mom sounds like a wise woman. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.