Category: Mother’s Day

An anonymous poet once said, “The pouring of compassion, combined with the mixing of gifts and generosity, blend together to serve miracles.”  The first time I saw this printed in a magazine, it was the artwork that caught my attention.  The artist had captured an old world feel, something between Renaissance and Renoir.  I read the words again, promptly tore the page out of the magazine, and taped it up on the wall where I could read it daily – sometimes several times a day.  In light of Mother’s Day I would like to tell you about a very special woman who epitomizes every word of this short but powerful prose – my Mom.
The pouring of compassion… my Mom feels things deeply and even though her strong Southern upbringing won’t always allow her to show it, her heart is as tender as fresh biscuit dough.  She will be the first volunteer to provide a meal for someone who’s sick or recovering from surgery.   When she and my Dad travel, she always tucks away the complimentary shampoo, conditioner, bath gels, and lotions from the hotel so she can deliver them to a local ministry helping underprivileged women.  Whether she’s praying (I’ve heard her) or writing in her journal (I’ve read a few entries), nine times out of ten it’s about someone else and their needs.  When I had breast cancer and was overwhelmed by everyone wanting to take care of me, she touched my arm and said gently, “Sweetie, they love you.  Let them.”
Combined with the mixing of gifts and generosity… my Mom has many gifts and she happily, generously shares them with anyone and everyone.  She has the gift of beauty but you won’t find one vain bone in her tiny frame.  She has the gift of hospitality and can instantly make anyone feel at home, ready to put their feet up on the sofa and stay a while.  She has the gift of creativity and can make the simplest meal beautiful and memorable.  She has the gift of music and sings with a joyful spirit.  She has the gift of reading.  That may sound strange but no one – and I mean no one – can read a story to a child like my Mom.  She can literally make time stand still in a story.  I’m thankful my children have been the benefactors of that one!  Everything she does is blanketed in generosity.  She regularly goes above and beyond and finds tremendous satisfaction in making life a little sweeter for others.
Blend together to serve miracles… my Mom always made our house a home.  We may not have had a lot in the world’s eyes but we didn’t know it.  She made birthdays, Christmas, and sometimes a regular old Saturday morning magical – usually on a shoe string budget.  She worked a full time job, volunteered (for everything) at our church, kept our house clean and the laundry done, carted my brother and me to all our social and sporting events, and taught me by example to be a gracious, kind, compassionate woman.  I learned to respect others by watching her respect others.  I learned to do my best by watching her touch everything with excellence.  I learned the deep satisfaction of a ‘Norman Rockwell’ moment by helping to prepare a special meal and gather her family around the kitchen table.  And I learned to be fiercely loyal to my family by understanding that sometimes it’s alright to not keep your mouth shut.
I lovingly refer to her as ‘Miss Daisy’ (when she’s not around), my children call her ‘Honey’, and our friends know her as ‘Mrs. C’.  She pours compassion, combines it with the mixing of gifts and generosity, and blends it all together to serve miracles.  She is simply, beautifully, my Mom.
Motherhood at times can be an incredibly lonely job.  No one knows your children like you do.  And you don’t want anyone to.  Moms can, at times, be their own worst enemy.  We find it very hard to admit shortcomings, ask for help, or acknowledge that our child may in fact be the problem instead of the solution.  I’ve been a mom for a little over 21 years.  And in those 21 years of parenting three children (see Friday’s blog, The Three Bears) I’ve learned the value of having other honest, authentic, passionate, unsure but wonderful moms in my life.
My mother-in-law.  She’s been married as long as I’ve been alive and raised three boys with an iron fist and a velvet glove.  Born and raised in East Tennessee she can cook up a storm, surprise you with her quick wit, and remember every child’s name she ever taught in pre-school.  My mother-in-law tells me regularly that I’m a good mom – and she tells my children, too.  She’s got my back when the kids go to her for something she knows I’ve already put my foot down on.  But she will also be the first one to quietly, privately tell me when I need to let go a little.  She and I made a pact early on to be honest and open with each other.  It is refreshing and comfortable to be with her no matter where we are.  I’ve learned from her to make a big deal about the big stuff.  Period.  She encourages me, prays for me, and loves my kids real good.  I’m blessed to have her as a mother-in-law and one of my dearest friends.
My best friend.  We refer to ourselves as ‘Thelma and Louise’ and share a love for coffee that probably has crossed over the line to an addiction.  And neither one of us is signing up for an intervention.  Our daughters actually introduced us at the mall one afternoon – at the age of 3! – and it’s been ‘best friend bliss’ ever since.  Early in our friendship our family was at her house with two other families enjoying a lovely Sunday dinner.  After our meal, the ladies were all in the kitchen washing dishes, putting away leftovers, and cleaning up.  I noticed one of them knew where all of Lori’s dishes belonged and I remember thinking, “I want a friend like that…one who knows me so well that she knows where all my dishes are.”   On SO many levels, I can honestly say that nine years later, Lori knows where my dishes are!  We laugh, we cry, we pray, we watch movies, we sit quietly, we ‘vent’, and we share a ministry at our church together.  Lori knows me and loves me in spite of – and because of – my weaknesses and warts.  She is my safe place and my secret keeper.
My cousin.  Growing up one of ten cousins on my mother’s side, we were equally divided among boys and girls.  The one closest in age to me, thankfully, was another girl.  She is physically beautiful but her inner qualities make her breathtaking.  Barbie is warm, engaging, witty, unselfish, and strong as steel.  She married earlier than I did and started her family before I did.  Nothing in this world has ever brought her more happiness, joy, and contentment than being a wife and mom.  She truly lives for her family.  Her boys adore her, her daughter wants to be like her, and her husband is a great guy who knows he married WAY up.  Barbie is happiest when her home is full of family and friends and she can take care of everyone around her.  I honestly believe if God had chosen to bring Jesus into the world in the 20th century, He might very well have chosen my cousin to be His mother.
Miss Dottie.  One of the greatest blessings I’ve experienced as a grown woman is knowing Miss Dottie.  We met by chance (and God’s design) at a Wednesday evening church supper and I knew instantly she was someone special.  Miss Dottie was put on this earth to love people and to pray.  She has the uncanny ability to make everyone around her feel important and special.  She calls me ‘darling’ and it somehow makes my whole world better.  Miss Dottie has literally prayed down mountains.  If it’s 95 degrees and clear blue sky outside when she prays for rain, she picks up her umbrella.   She will cry over a friend’s pain as if it’s her own and shout for joy at the smallest victory.  I had the amazing privilege of being mentored by Miss Dottie for two years.  She taught me how to pray; and that taught me everything else.
My Mom – Quite simply, a fabulous woman.  You can read more about her in tomorrow’s blog because I saved the best for last.
These women are my family, friends, truth-tellers, and cheerleaders.  I’m not alone in this thing called Motherhood.  And I’m so very thankful.

I am the loud and proud mom of three great kids: Alex, Rachel, and Stephen.  My hair has been varying colors and lengths throughout their lifetime, the size of my clothes has changed (just a little), and sometimes I am not on my best behavior when they’re around.  But they know I would throw myself in front of a train for them.  In birth order, they are:

SugarBear – my firstborn.  The child I cut my parenting teeth on.  The pregnancy for which everything was a first: the first ultrasound, the first ‘butterfly’ of movement in my womb, the first completely guilt-free lunch at Wendy’s consisting of a double cheeseburger, large fry and root beer, followed by a medium Frosty.  I have never been so sick.  After that disastrous outing my diet consisted mostly of Mexican food, Chick-fil-A, ice cream, and TUMS.  The first labor pains (after measuring a barely detectable contraction on the monitor, I asked the nurse how much worse they would get before I delivered; she didn’t answer) and the first clumsy attempt at nursing.  I gained only 18 pounds and wriggled back into my favorite cords in just two weeks.  Alex was born with a smile on his face and I learned from him the truth of Erma Bombeck’s words, “having children is to forever have your heart walking around outside your body.”
PoohBear – my only daughter.  An emotional pregnancy – I didn’t eat as much but cried about everything.  Alex was nine years old.  When we told him I was pregnant he wrote my grandmother a note that said simply, “God answered one of my prayers.  We’re having a baby!”   I gained more weight during this pregnancy (don’t ask me how or how much) and we chose not to learn the sex prior to delivery.  Our ultrasound technician wrote the results on a piece of paper and sealed it in an envelope.  We poked a tiny hole in the corner, put a ribbon through the hole, and hung it on our Christmas tree.  Delivery day began very early on a January morning and less than four hours later we held our little angel.  She was long and lean with porcelain skin and every time we swaddled her she managed to work one foot loose from her blanket.  Rachel is still our free spirit, best described by her Uncle Bo as a cartoon character come to life. 
LittleBear – my personal proof that God is still in the business of miracles.  Just three short weeks after 9/11 and my husband losing his job (along with a huge commission), we learned I was pregnant.  Oops – not really planning for a third child.  At our first baby checkup my midwife felt ‘something’ in my right breast.  A core needle biopsy at the women’s center of our hospital resulted in the phone call that changed our lives: “Mrs. Hood, all four tissue samples were malignant.  You have breast cancer and should call your surgeon immediately.  I’m so sorry.”  The moment I saw our baby’s tiny frame on the ultrasound monitor I was head over heels in love – and fiercely determined to beat cancer for both of us.  Three surgeries, a serious infection, and four rounds of chemotherapy later, I held our little miracle in my hands.  Born three weeks early, he weighed a whopping five pounds, eleven ounces and was barely 18″ long.  Hard to hold and impossible to diaper, Stephen has grown to be my living, breathing, running, jumping, chocolate-soup-eyed boy.
Being a mom to my three bears has taught me many things.  Here are just a few examples:
1/ There is nothing sweeter in the whole universe than sitting quietly in a rocker at 3a.m. snuggling your newborn with a full belly.  Conversely, there is nothing more stick-a-fork-in-your-eye maddening than your baby screaming at full volume at 3a.m. for no apparent reason.
2/Boys like to be naked.  Girls like to wear pretty dresses.  Boys like to pee in the bushes.  Girls will lie to your face and “pwomise” they did not pass gas.
3/My greatest accomplishment with my first child was teaching him to fix his own bowl of cereal and find the cartoons on Saturday morning until at least 9a.m.  My greatest accomplishment with my second child was teaching her to wake her big brother on Saturday morning.  With my third child, I was so happy we were both here – and healthy – that I got up and made waffles for everyone on Saturday morning.
4/Kids are incredibly resilient.  With Alex I worried that every scratch, bump, and belly ache warranted a trip to the ER.  After Rachel was born, the nurse-on-call and I were on a first name basis; she was always calm and reassuring.  By the time Stephen arrived, if there wasn’t a bone sticking out of place or enough blood to soak through a bath towel I patted him gently and said, “Cool – that will be a great scar!”
5/My kids notice when the house is clean but don’t judge me when it’s not.  They like it when I make their favorite meals but don’t complain when dinner is PB&Js.  They know holidays are special to me and endure my long list of photo ops.  They want me close by when they don’t feel good, look to see if I’m on the sidelines at their sporting events, and still like for me to tuck them into bed at night. They have patiently endured my long recoveries from multiple surgeries and have cared for me far better than any private nurse ever could.
I’m crazy about my three bears.  As Goldilocks discovered, they’re just right.

I come from a long line of strong Southern women, one of them my maternal grandmother.  She is 96 today, my only living grandparent.  I feel extremely blessed to have had a close relationship with all my grandparents and have wonderful memories that span from my childhood well into adulthood.  But Margaret Louise Shigley Crowe, known to me and my nine cousins all our lives simply as “Memaw” is especially dear to me.  Born the youngest of 12 children, she developed a crush on my grandfather in the third grade – and her hooks go deep and long.  After graduating from high school (as salutatorian of her class in 1932) she and my Papa were very much in love.  My great-grandmother didn’t care for my grandfather and didn’t want them to marry.  So they eloped!  And kept it a secret for three months, my grandmother still living at home with her parents and my grandfather with his.  Finally, my Papa decided their arrangement was for the birds.  He went to Mamaw Shigley’s house to tell her he had married my grandmother, stated his intentions for them to ‘set up house’ together, and held his ground.  My great-grandmother responded simply, “Well, what’s done is done.  I guess I’ll learn to love you.”  And love him she did.  It wasn’t long before Papa was her favorite and everybody knew it.
Memaw and Papa raised five children, four girls and a boy right in the middle.  They lived in a small house and managed with only one bathroom between the seven of them.  My grandfather never failed to start the day with all his children kneeling for prayer around the kitchen table.  And very few mornings passed that my grandmother didn’t prepare a full Southern breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, gravy, made-from-scratch biscuits, and grits.  As a pastor’s wife my grandmother was expected to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, raise perfect children, keep a perfect home, coordinate and organize church events, weddings, funerals, baby dedications, and teach Vacation Bible School.  She did it all with grace, beauty, and excellence.
Papa was a preacher for 57 years before his death in 1992 and my grandmother was undeniably his biggest fan.  He struggled occasionally with feelings of inadequacy because he never attended seminary.  My grandmother would pat him gently on the arm and say, “now Charles, you are a student of God’s word and He never fails to give you a strong message.  Don’t you ever let anyone tell you otherwise.”  My grandmother never denied that her family had its faults and shortcomings, but God help the person outside the bloodline who brought it to her attention!  She is fiercely loyal and it wouldn’t surprise me if her picture is listed in the Encyclopedia Britannica next to “Bear, Mama”.
Memaw was a school teacher for 32 years, receiving her teaching degree in 1934 and many years later her BS in Education from Berry College at the age of 50.  Around that same she also learned how to drive, instructed by the calm and gentle guidance of my grandfather.  She stopped driving barely two years ago and only recently gave up her condo to live with one of my aunts in south Georgia.  Strong indeed.  I’ve watched her hands prepare countless meals, fly across the keys of a piano, and gently caress many a loved one.  I’ve chuckled as she washed a piece of tin foil, dried it, folded it squarely and returned it to the drawer for later use.  When I think of her I visualize crossword puzzles, reading voraciously, and going to the beach. 
And when she prays, I am convinced God raises His hand and says, “Listen, it’s my Margaret.”  My grandmother.  My Memaw.  My hero.    

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