When I was growing up, there were a lot of lessons taught, and learned. And some of the most important lessons I learned were from my mother and grandmothers. They weren’t always spoken aloud, but taught by examples. These memories are still burned into my mind as examples to follow, and to emulate whenever possible.
From Grandma B I learned about the value of hard work. It seemed every time I visited, she would have me help her harvest fruits and vegetables from her large garden. I remember when we harvested pumpkins, and that it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. The vines are thick and prickly, and it seems like each pumpkin gets heavier and heavier every time you pick one up and carry it out of the field. Those roadside pumpkin patches make you think harvesting them is easy, and I can tell you for a fact that it is not. But Grandma did it like it was no real effort at all.
From Grandma K, I learned about the strength of a smile. She fought a long battle with cancer. One summer we went with her to Washington D.C. and it was so hot she couldn’t stand to wear her wig anymore. We went to go view the Senate at work, and as we entered a guard approached her and asked her to remove her cap, not realizing she was a woman wearing a hat to cover the fact that her hair had fallen out due to chemo. Instead of arguing, she just smiled and said “ok!” and whipped off her cap. The poor guard was understandably embarrassed, but Grandma just kept it off, not caring what anyone thought. What I remember most about that day was how in that room full of lawmakers, guards and tourists, my Grandma was the strongest of them all.
And from my mom, I learned to fight for the things you care about. When I was a kid, I loved playing sports, but there just weren’t girl’s teams. And while I was always encouraged to take on a variety of activities, including art and swimming, my mom wasn’t about to let anyone tell me I couldn’t play sports if I wanted to. So she signed me up for the boys’ teams, and even coached one of them just to make sure I got to experience the things I was interested in. I think back on it now and realize that what I did probably opened a lot of doors for girls in the future because within a few years there were girls teams in my town for pretty much every sport; but I never felt any of that pressure because my mom was right there with me. Who cares if I was the only girl; my mom was still cheering for me.
We all have that “mom” in our life. Whether she’s the woman who gave birth and raised us, or that person who cared for us and protected us, moms are some of the most important people in our lives.
Our Leaven kids are lucky, because they are surrounded by “moms” and “dads” from all over the community, who love and care for them and help strengthen them as they grow. Without these strong men and women behind them, it’d be hard to carry on when things get hard. But when you’ve got your mom behind you, there’s nothing you can’t believe that you can do.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, Aunts, Neighbors and Friends who help us all reach for those things we really care about, and thanks for helping kids and communities rise.