Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother’s Day!

Yep, this is me and my mom. As I’m sure you have guessed, it is not a photo from Nicaragua and it was not taken that recently (sometime during the summer of 1979 in Minnesota?).

While my life has not always been as tranquil as it was in that picture (whose was?), I really have been incredibly lucky to have a great relationship with my mom. On the one hand I don’t want to make everyone gag by enthusing too much. On the other hand, my mom worked really hard at raising my sister and me, did a really great job, and no amount of gag-worthy enthusing could begin to be enough.

I am a cautious person. I like to have everything planned out (there are many people who will attest to this). And I love hanging around the house. Go out for dinner? Maybe, but wouldn’t you rather just make something here?

So what led to me leaving everything I knew (including the language) to do my job in a completely foreign place?

One reason would be my mom.

Now, she’ll deny up and down that it’s partly her fault. With my sister and brother-in-law on the east coast and headed back to Africa in a few years and me here in Nicaragua, she’s not shy to complain about having her children spread all over the place. We’re always happy to remind her, however, that she’s the one who started it by teaching elementary school in Brazil in 1968 right out of college.

Another reason is because one of the most important things to her that we learn was that she always loved us. If we succeeded, she loved us, if we didn’t succeed (failure wasn’t used, just like we were never bad, but there were plenty of times when we were not helpful!), she loved us. No matter what, she loved us. I can promise you that I didn’t fully appreciate this as a kid (and especially not as a teenager). But without a doubt, it is part of the reason I can take a leap into the unknown, taking a huge (although calculated, I’m still me) risk that may or may not end up like I thought it would.

Another thing about my mom is that she has an extreme abundance of maternal energy. After raising my sister and I, this trait, along with a love of music, led her to begin teaching piano lessons and working with community college students for Disability Support Services at Spokane Falls CC. These things have continued to exemplify what I had already learned from her. It is important to think about, and then act on what you can do for others. Generally, it’s best if this is also something you love to do anyway. Also, it’s important to push ahead even if you’re scared or uncomfortable. God didn’t call for us to be comfortable (not that we're called to be uncomfortable all the time either).

Lastly, one thing that she still occasionally has trouble with, but has spent years getting better at, is listening to herself and taking care of herself. In spite of the expectations placed on her as a (now former) pastor’s wife, she has always worked on getting to know herself better and figuring out what she needs to sustain herself emotionally and spiritually. I spent a lot of time before I left the States figuring out what lifestyle would be emotionally and spiritually satisfying to me (it’s an ongoing project) and now that I’m here, I work to make sure I’m able to meet my challenges head on by having the emotional support I need from friends and family. Even so far away, I certainly don’t feel alone.

So Mom, thanks, and no matter what, I love you!


Dad said...

A wonderful expression of love. And even true. I would add that your mom has an ability to lovingly embarrass her children with stories about their childhood. Maybe we could get her to contribute to your blog some background to all your calculated adventure seeking. If not, I've got one about skiing that would be fun.

Aubrey said...

I can vouch for that! Your Mom has the greatest ability to bring up the most related embarrassing story... and to slip it into conversation casually. *g* Now, I better be good because I'm sure she has a few stories on me as well!
Extremely cute pic, by the way.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Nicole!!! I read this blog a day or two ago, and had to come back just to look at the picture. You have just the cuuuuuuutest expression on your face!!! We should have had that photo on the big screen at the Walsh Christmas party :o)
Take care Nicole! :o)