A Mother’s Lament

holding handsAs a daughter I often wondered why my mother did things the way she did…was she just trying to torture me? Or was there a method to her madness? Now that I am a mother myself, I understand why Moms do the things they do.

I used to wonder why my mother ruined every chocolate chip cookie recipe by adding wheat germ. Now that I am a mother, I put bran in my son’s applesauce, broccoli in his mashed potatoes and beans in his rice.

I used to wonder why my mother never let us watch Charlie’s Angels, Starskey and Hutch or a thousand other TV shows that all my friends got to watch. Now that I am a mother, I know the value of PBS, Veggie Tales and quiet time with a good book about backhoes and bulldozers.

Why, I wondered, did she insist I go to youth group, Bible quizzing, Sunday School and church camp? Now I hope and pray my son makes Christian friends in those same places.

And how did she have the time, as I snuggled down in bed, to stay with me, pray with me, lay with me, assuring me of her love and God’s love for me? Now I give in to one more hug, one more kiss, one more song, one more prayer, knowing that I am forming a bond my son will never forget.

How did I end up with a mother that wasn’t afraid to say no? She was not one of those mothers you hear about on Oprah – you know, the kind of mother that just wants to be her child’s best friend; doesn’t want to set any limits; is afraid of making her child mad. Oh no, not my mother. I never had to wonder where she stood on an issue, especially a moral issue.

She taught me how to say no, you can’t play outside our yard, have licorice before supper, stand on the kitchen table, cut your own hair, have that $450 electric train that you saw at Lehman’s, ride around all day on my shoulders, go barefoot in the winter, call anyone a name ending with head or bird (potato head/dodo bird). No. no. no.

Why was she such a stickler for manners? Write a note to Grandma for those mittens; say thank you to Uncle Carl for the pony ride (even though it scared you to death); invite all the third grade girls in your class to the party.motherdaughter1

Now I know why “please” is the magic word and how happy I was when I overheard this exchange on the playground. “Excuse me,” his little friend said when he bumped into Brandon. “You’re welcome,” said my son, knowing some polite response was required, but not realizing he didn’t have the right one.

How did she have the strength to make us stick with all those lessons we begged for, piano, skating, swimming?

Now I know, as I stuck through an eight-week course of swimming lessons even though my son cried every time after taking a tumble into the pool on the first day; and every Saturday morning he asked, “Do I have to go again?” But he was so pleased to receive a sucker after “graduating” on the eighth Saturday.

And where did the patience come from as you lectured us about bickering, made me and my brothers discuss our irritations rationally with each other, when we begged you to beat us like other parents?

Now I know as we calmly discuss behavior problems in the Time Out Chair.

How could you say the same things over and over?

Now I hear your voice coming out of my head … don’t tip your chair, stand up straight, play nicely.

And how could she possibly make me go on a family vacation, when I was far too cool to be hanging out with my parents and little brother and sister?

Now I plan to torture my son in exactly the same way.

I used to wonder why she said, “You were never a mother, but I was once a daughter.”

Now I know why.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms – and daughters soon to be Moms.

Glenda Lehman ErvinEditor’s Note: Glenda Lehman Ervin is the daughter of Jay and Ella Mae Lehman. Jay founded Lehman’s as a tiny hardware store in Kidron, Ohio in 1955. Today, Glenda is Lehman’s Vice President of Marketing.

Originally published May 2015.

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