|My beautiful mom and me, 1952|
My mother, the youngest of seven children, was a bright and talented little girl who lost her father when she was only ten years old and has missed him ever since. She and her mother, my Grandma Johnson, grew even closer as they bonded together to overcome their devastating loss and maintain a good life for themselves. The older siblings had already left the nest, so it was just the two of them at home, determined to make the best of a difficult situation.
Money was hard to come by in those days, but my grandma made sure Mom continued to take the violin lessons that had become so important to her by baking two or three extra loaves of bread each week to give the teacher. My uniquely gifted mother became a concert violinist, and I have cherished memories of listening to her practice and perform over the years.
At school, Mom was an outstanding student with lots of friends. She excelled in both English and mathematics, winning a full-ride scholarship to Stanford that she never used because she married my father instead. Mom had wanted to be a doctor, and she would have made an excellent one. She also had a talent for teaching; and thanks to her efforts, all of us could read well by the age of four. In fact, every one of Mom's children is an avid reader today, and we are pretty decent writers, too.
My mother had a wonderful example in her own mother. Perhaps that is why motherhood was and is the most important thing in her life. After struggling with infertility, Mom was lucky enough to adopt one child and then bear four more, with a number of miscarriages along the way. I remember how excited she was with a successful pregnancy, and she made us all feel like participants in the thrilling, 9-month process. She also loved caring for a new baby and managed to make each of us feel blessed rather than displaced by the new lives that entered our home. Mom knew how to make nurturing and raising a household of children a team effort, and every one of us felt a strong sense of belonging. I am lucky enough never to have questioned her love and devotion for me, and I am certain my siblings would say the same.
Like my mom, being a mother is the best and most important work I have ever done. I love and will always love it absolutely. Every sacrifice made to nurture my children has been more than worth it; every heartbreak, past and present, is more than compensated by the joy they bring me. In fact, I cannot imagine my life without the amazing young people that fill it so naturally and willingly, reminding me that I will always have a place in their hearts as they do in mine. I hope I am worthy of that honor.
So thanks to my devoted mother and grandmothers, my three handsome-is-as-handsome-does (and they do!) sons and my one-and-only, sweet and lovely daughter. Thanks also to my grandchildren, whom I adore, and my "children-in-law" (Heather and Bobby), who selflessly support and embrace the family. We're glad they belong to us. Most of all, thanks to my husband, who played a fairly significant role in making me the very grateful mother that I am!