What Mama Did: The Song and The Dance

I’ve been spending the week reading LisaJo Baker’s series, “What Mama Did.”  Lisa invited some friends to share their stories of what their mothers did that left a mark on them.

What are we doing as mothers that will leave a mark upon our kids? Perhaps it’s not what we think.  Tell me all about what your mama did that made her yours…. 

It’s been bittersweet for my heart to read through these this week, an odd mix of joy and jealousy.  So many of the lovely memories my Mom endeavored to make for us were marred by her mental illness and eventual suicide.

Yet the longer I spend on my own motherhood journey, the deeper I understand my own mother, it this this is a universal experience for all parents.

The more I reflect on our memories together, the more I uncover the truth of who she really was.

As I dig into my past I emerge with pearls, moments where she was exactly the woman God created her to be, nearly free from the depression that gnawed too often on her heart.

I’ve already told you about the warmth of enjoying her muffins on the rug and the way she would curl up and read books with me, both of the memories are precious to me.

Dancing-Feet-300x225 Yet this week I’ve been reflecting on my Mother’s singing and dancing.

I remember vividly the gray plastic CD player that sat on our kitchen counter, and the cassette boom-box that preceded it.  Both of these devices were usually playing Celine Dion or Cynthia Clawson… a bit of Josh Groban in her later years.

They rarely played “kids music” because when mom sang and danced it was because something in the song freed her heavy spirit to do so.

Something in weaving of THOSE words set to THAT music left her no choice but to dance with us across the linoleum flooring.

She never sang without dancing, even if only with her hands.

I remember a childhood vacation that is completely soundtracked with my mother singingly “Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling.  Calling to you and to me, come home, come home all you are weary, come home!”

Or a car ride with her in college when she hijacked my Disney Hercules CD soundtrack and belted “Go the distance” over and over again.  “I will find my way, I can do the distance! I’ll be there someday, if I can be strong.  I know every mile, will be worth my while…” 

When I re-read those lyrics, they tell me more now than they did at the time.  She needed to believe that Christ was calling her, that she could go on another day.

My Mom showed us the vulnerability of her soul through the lyrics of songs and the freedom of soul dancing, she taught us that words set to music can set you free.

She modeled the need to resonate with things, and to allow ourselves to become overwhelmed as our souls connected with something essential, eternal.

The freedom of the soul moving to words set to music, that’s what mama did.

 PS I did not know this was supposed to be a 5 minute friday when I started writing it Monday.  I should have.  Forgive me, I’ve been sussing through it all week.

  • KimberlyCoyle

    Oh, Leanne. You speak of your mom with such tenderness and care. I’m so sorry for your lost, but rejoice with you in the memories you uncovered even in the darkness.

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      Thank you Kimberly, the tenderness has been a journey but I’m so glad that I’m finding it. Anger and bitterness benefits no one.

  • Ali C.

    This is so poignant and beautiful. I love the idea of allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed. It’s not something I’m good at, control freak that I am. I needed that reminder today. Thank you for sharing such a sacred memory of your mama with us.

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      Hard but worth it. I think we were meant to be overwhelmed more than we are… we live distracted. Too much so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephaniebutenhof Stephanie Butenhof

    I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but I cried while reading this. I think sometimes, that the saddest people appreciate the happy moments so much more.

    • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

      I have never really thought of it that way but I think you’re right, for those who know bitter the sweet is so much sweeter.