Gifts for my Mom- 26 happy thoughts

This morning both of my lovely children rolled out of their beds around 5:50 am.  They actually lined up patiently next to each other and let me change their diapers assembly line style, which is a gift in the wee morning hours.

As I kissed on my daughter’s tummy I marveled at the fact that her birthday is a week out, she’s going to be three.  We plan on making her birthday celebration a week long event and my mind immediately starting singing my Mother’s “Almost a Birthday Girl” song, which she sang to us without fail when our birthdays were coming up.

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend and there are a lot of beautiful posts out there that have spoken to my heart on celebrating Mother’s day differently, IE without a mom.  So I’m not going to write that today.

I know that most of the time I share the heartache and grief associated with being the daughter of a mentally ill mama.  However that isn’t the whole story, not by a long shot, under the crust of pain there are thousands of lovely memories and lately I’ve been digging for them.

I don’t delve too deep into the theology of heaven and it surprises even me how little I think about it.  But somewhere inside of myself I feel like my parents are tuning in, I can’t define it or explain it and I am fully willing to admit that this belief may be all about meeting my needs, but either way I don’t see the harm.

I fully that my mom is whole and restored in heaven with God and that she doesn’t feel pain or sadness.  Which means that my worry that she feels misrepresented by me on earth is ill founded.  She’s at peace, yet still I feel compelled to honor her this weekend by sharing all the ways she succeeded and the moments where the beautiful person underneath the depression shone through.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, this weekend I will shout to the world all the things you did right, the acts that penetrated through your depression and changed the way I do motherhood.

my lovely mom

1)  You couldn’t wait to be a mom, you even tried to convince Dad to start getting you mother’s day gifts before you were pregnant.

2) You read me whatever book I thrust into your hands and this is likely what inspired my love for reading and words.

3) You grew the most beautiful geraniums in the back yard and often cut them into bouquets to share with friends.

4) You would often gather all three of us to the kitchen rug to share slices of cheese or a  carton of yogurt as we sat around you eagerly awaiting our turn like baby birds with open  mouths.

5) Every winter you would bring me fresh, warm bran muffins as I sat on the heating register “Sucking up all the heat” as Dad would say.

6) You made our halloween costumes, even if we were hobos in overalls for five years straight.

7) You drove me the 40 miles round trip to Children’s Bible Hour Choir every week without fail or complaint.

8) You took on a waitressing job to keep us in Christian School, because you believed it was the best thing for us and you were willing to deliver coffee and burgers to crabby dutch people to make it happen.

9) You made sure I made it to every orthodontist appointment for the SEVEN. YEARS I had braces on my crazy teeth.

10) When I didn’t want cake for my birthday you put candles in a coconut cream pie.

11) You let me sing to you and took me all the way to Toronto to see the Phantom of the Opera when it was my total obsession in middle school.

12) In High school when the girls were too mean, you picked me up crying from the office and took me on what you called “An Emotional Day Off.”

13) You did my toe nails for prom because I was too worried that I would mess up my manicure.

14) You always spent your work bonuses on your kids and one year bought us all all electric blankets because you worried we were too cold in the basement.

15) You were my biggest fan and my best cheerleader, you told me this often.

16) You made hundreds of meatballs by hand and without complaint for my graduation party.

17)  You and Dad moved me into my first apartment when I was too busy working three jobs to do it myself.

18) You weren’t weirded out at all when I met an Oklahoma boy on the internet.

19) You tried really hard to sing Lady Gaga.

20) You loved being a grandmother and I think it kept you going for a while in the end.

21)  You would spent whatever extra money you had to fly Noelle and I home for a visit because you said it kept you sane, even though we usually ended up fighting.

22) When Money was tight you sent checks to make sure I could afford co-pays to take myself to the doctor.

23) You taught me to kiss my babies, right on the lips.

24) The way you played “Little Mousey” when you tickled Noelle, she still remembers it somehow.

25) You never stopped telling me how proud you were of me as a Mom, almost daily

26) You had your estate set up so well that it was easy to take care of and you paid for my college in the end.

I love you mom and I miss all that you were and I ache for all that we didn’t get to share.

So Hi reader,  I know that this post might make you sad but please know that it’s one of the most healing things I have done in a while, so intently bright and positive for my heart.

It’s so easy to criticize our moms, especially before we find ourselves on the motherhood journey.

I encourage all of us as much as we are able to take our focus off what our Mother’s didn’t do right and make a list like this because no mother gets it perfect.

Let’s all view this mother’s day in the light of grace and do as much as we can to honor the women who gave and sustained our lives.

I’d love to read a few things from your life, and if you knew my Mom and want to add to my list, I’d love that too.

  • heroldsroses

    My parents are also both in Heaven, and I thank you for thie line about knowing that your Mom is at peace and not feel misrepresented. Because I often wonder if my folks sometimes feel hurt when I mention to people the mistakes they made that I want avoid. I am sure you are right, and that they are not bothered they did their best, as we all do. Human beings have faults and God has Grace. Happy Mothers Day to you! I might copy you and post a list this weekend of what my Mother got right.

    • Rebecca

      This is so beautiful, Leanne! I can absolutely see why it was a healing process for you. This made me really realize how much I miss seeing her when you are home or randomly bumping into her around town.
      Happy early Mother’s Day to you, friend – one of my many role models for raising my own baby girl!

      • leannepenny

        Oh thank you Becky! How I love you and am honored to be in you & your baby girls life

  • naomi

    living or living through us, our mothers influence and love is worth noting. your words are beautiful and always move me to remember Grace, and let “mercy triumph over judgement.” thank you.

    • Joy

      I don’t have words for this. It evokes so many emotions, feelings and memories in my own life.
      All I can say is, “Thank you.”

      • leannepenny

        You’re so welcome friend.

    • leannepenny

      You’re so welcome ol’ chum 😉

  • Stacy A

    Leanne, this is beautiful and exactly the right thing to do. I suffer from depression, sometimes to the point of thinking the “S” word in a big way. I don’t think I will ever actually do the act, and I pray that the Lord will stop me if I ever get close. One of the things I worry about is how my son (who is just about to end his freshman year of college) thinks of me. I have tried so. freaking. hard during his life to NOT let my depression be the thing he sees the most, to create good memories, happy moments, etc. I also have health problems and I worry that these are what he’ll think of when he’s off out in the world and I cross his mind. I don’t want his thoughts to be “yeah, she’s always tired, can’t do anything, always just sits on the couch with her computer.” So when he’s home I work so hard to be fun, etc. Most times I can do it. Sometimes I can’t. We’ve talked, he knows I have this struggle, and he assures me that when he thinks of his old mom he has nothing but good thoughts and memories. That is so unbelievably important to me, and I’m thankful he feels that way (even if he’s just saying it to make me feel good, but somehow I don’t think that’s it).

    So remembering all the best things you can about your mom is incredibly super important, both in her honor and for your heart. I’m glad you can remember good things about her. Now that you’re a mom you know how important it is that your kids think well of you.

    Wishing you a beautiful Mother’s Day as you celebrate your own motherhood, and as you remember your mom.
    Stacy A

    • leannepenny

      Amen and grace and strength or you battle! May your son love on an honor your tomorrow! You’re a brave and BEAUTIFUL Mama!

      • Stacy A

        Thank you, Leanne. God’s the one who gives me the grace and strength. Without Him, yeah I don’t want to think about where I’d be. Happy Mother’s Day!

  • Lisa K

    This is a beautiful celebration of your mom’s life and I think she would be thrilled to read this post.

    • Stephanie Butenhof

      I agree with Lisa. I think that it’s incredibly sweet to remember all these great things about your mother.
      My mom has always been my biggest fan, too, (in addition to my biggest critic), but I feel so lucky that she has always been there to cheer me on, and tell me that I can do anything that I put my mind to. Even though I don’t. She makes me feel like I might still can.
      And so do you. I just read your story about your first apartment and your 25th-birthday-selfishness. I can relate.
      Once again, thanks for sharing with us.
      You rock.

      • leannepenny

        Thanks! Moms can be such an asset in our lives, especially the cheerleading sort!