Growing up in a small town my only concerns were getting to play outdoors and planning outfits with my childhood best friend. My mother was mainly a stay-at-home mom over the years who worked when she wanted. My sister and I went to church on Sundays, sometimes twice, choir rehearsal on Saturdays and bible study on Thursdays.
But those in between times we went to the movies, to Carowinds, which was the nearest theme park, had family cookouts, shopped for clothes or school supplies, ate homemade ice cream, had large Saturday and Sunday morning breakfasts and dinners, had dates — all of which was experienced with our mother, Margaret.
Everybody knew my mother, all of my friends, my sister’s friends, and even people we didn’t know. “Hey Mrs. Potts,” she would hear children shout from the halls of our school, which she frequently made surprise appearances. Now she’s “Mama Potts” to all of our friends and “Grandma Margaret” to my nieces and their friends. There’s many lessons I learned from my mother over the years, but these are the ones that come to mind.
Lessons I Learned from Mama
- Be there. Two simple words with a huge impact. I may forget certain childhood memories or exactly how they happened, but above all else I remember she was there. If we had a school ceremony she was there. If we wanted some quality time we had mother-daughter dates. If we fell she was there to wipe the scratches and put Vaseline on them (because “Vaseline takes care of everything” or so she said). The main reason she was there was honestly, sometimes my dad was not. She didn’t work because she believed and still does that the Lord would provide.
- Love Unconditionally. It’s a fundamental truth in the bible that Jesus Christ loves us unfailingly. I saw it in my mother every day of my life. I’m sure there were times my sister and I disappointed her, but she loved us anyway. Not only us, but others. She would give you a kind or at times, a firm word and move on, but she did it out love. I grew to realize that sadly not every parent loves their child. But I knew my mother loved me and still does, unfailingly.
- Laugh often. Growing up my mother was at many times very serious and she still is today. She didn’t sugar coat and meant what said, but there were those times when something was truly funny, she laughed. She laughed loudly, uncontrollably at times and until her eyes became watery, her shoulders shook and she was doubled over. It’s OK to be serious, but there’s always room for laughter. I do it quite often, which annoys my sister because she says I laugh like a roller coaster before take off.
- Be You. My mother was unapologetically the same person outside of our house as she was behind closed doors. She spoke her mind and then she was finished. She was confident in her words and actions. She held her head high when she walked. Somewhere along the way I learned from her to hold my head up high and walk confidently even if I’m not on the inside. I talk a lot (ask my fourth or sixth grade teachers) and sometimes I get loud when I’m excited, I crack my knuckles (and it annoys my mother and my husband), I’m a sucker for pretty packaging, but that’s just me.
- Bargain shop. Growing up we were always, always on a “penny” budget. “No other family is on a penny budget,” my sister and I would argue. But my mother knew how to score a good deal. When we were kids and shopped for school supplies the cashier would say “ma’am only 10 tablets per customer.” My mother would quickly ask, “are you saying my child is not a customer?” It’s how we walked out of the store with 30 tablets for the school year. I thought it was embarrassing, but once we were done school shopping we had enough supplies for the year (and sometimes the year after) and for kids whose parents could not afford them. My sister calls me cheap, but says “Oh why didn’t you get me one,” when I tell her about a deal I found.
As I embark on motherhood myself I’m daring to dream that I’m half as good. I’m just hoping that my son or daughter will think I’m annoying sometimes, strict at others, God-fearing, funny, serious, a penny-pincher, confident, present, and above all — love them unfailingly. Happy Mother’s Day.