Recently, a memory surfaced as I watched a little girl tug her mother’s hand.
Nothing out of the ordinary, really, but something about the bond between mother and daughter moved me.
Blue eyes, bright with adoration, lingered on Mom. Mom laughed and the pair shared a knowing look—one of those silent, happy exchanges between parent and child. A love language uniquely their own.
Perhaps, the sixty-second interplay triggered my reverie with the past. The carefree innocence of the five-year-old, completely smitten with the world around her and oblivious to life’s cruelties, reminded me of myself at that age. Even her mother—her carriage and countenance—bore an uncanny resemblance to my own mama.
She had the same quiet strength.
A sharp mind.
Maturity well beyond her years.
I treasured those qualities then—just as I do today, and though the decades-old incident still wounds (if I allow), I’m a stronger woman because of it.
This is the story…
When I was about five, I accompanied my mama to a neighbor’s Avon party. Oh, how excited I was to go!
I wore my Sunday best—my favorite polka dress and my black patent leathers. I twirled around for Mama to see.
Surely, the nice neighbor lady would think so, too. And off we went, holding hands.
Clip-clop–clip-clop my little shoes went.
There wasn’t so much as a single crack in the straight-as-an-arrow sidewalk that led to our neighbor’s front door, and never had I seen such perfectly-ordered shrubs, all trimmed to perfection and maybe even polished!
Immediately, I clapped my eyes on something else.
Wedged between two towering pines just beyond the honeysuckle bush was something I longed for—a massive swing set. Oh, my! I didn’t have one.
I had fruit trees to climb, a big, ol’ dirt pile to dig in, and a brand new inflatable swimming pool, but still, no swing set.
Goosebumps danced down my arms. “This will be so much fun!”
“Yes, it will.” Mama squeezed my hand and smiled just as Nice Neighbor Lady greeted us at the front door and ushered us inside.
The thing I noticed first was how blue everything was. Blue drapes. Blue carpet. Even blue furniture—in a different shade but still blue and quite beautiful. Fancy.
Well, while the little lipstick samples and perfume swabs intrigued, after the finger sandwiches, my interest waned.
“Mama, I want to play outside. Please?”
Mama nodded yes. It was a different day and time then. Parents often permitted their kids to play outdoors within shouting distance.
Of course, you know what I did. I ran right toward that bright, shiny swing set and hoisted myself up on the nearest swing.
To-and-fro, back-and forth, I pumped my long, skinny legs. Wheeee!
From the swing, I moved on to the slide. I was just about to climb on the glider when Nice Neighbor Lady stepped outside, waved her arms and hollered, “No! You mustn’t play on that! It’s not for you to play on.” Her egg salad finger sandwich tumbled down her blouse and landed at her feet. I hoped she didn’t choke on the bite she’d hurriedly swallowed.
Not for me to play on?
Nice Neighbor Lady didn’t seem so nice anymore. Her face twisted as she raised her voice louder. “I said the swing set’s not for you to play on!”
What does she mean?
Let me tell you, Mama knew what she meant. And later, I did, too.
It was my first experience with class distinction.
While most of the folks in our little town were hard-working salt-of-the-earth types, wealth wasn’t prevalent.
From our living room window, we watched Not-So-Nice Neighbor Lady take a bucket and sponge and give that swing set a spit-shine better than in the factory it came from.
That afternoon as I sobbed my five-year-old heart out, I overheard Mama tell Daddy what happened. “Their children are older now and they don’t even play on the thing. I suppose, though, we should really pray for Edna* and Arnie*. They may have a swing set, but who they need is the Lord.”
My preacher-daddy laughed. “Couldn’t have said it better myself, darlin’.”
That night, I found solace in my parents’ arms…and in Mama’s homemade brownies.
In celebration of mothers everywhere…
Despite the rain, you see the rainbow.
Happy Mother’s Day!
I pray you’re smothered with kisses, gathered in hugs, and blessed beyond measure.
You are loved.
No one can do exactly what you do.
You’re a blessing to your family and countless others you impact.
You make a hard job look easy.
You’re a nurturer. An encourager.
Supporter of dreams. Giver of rainbows.
You often shun the spotlight so others can take center stage.
You’re a keeper of the flame, yet your ways are unselfish.
You aren’t perfect. You’re just right.
And you’re a gem!
A memory, a mother, and a swing set. What the three have in common.
Celebrating mothers and a little story about wisdom and restraint.
THOUGHTS TO BLESS YOU
The true story of an 80-year-old miracle in the making and the one resilient woman who never gave up.
Celebrating the sixteenth birthday of a dear niece
*Names have been changed.
Do you have favorite memories with your mother?
How has your mother influenced you?