If I believe in behaviors, which I surely do, I have a big case of this mama-thing. Even with people who are not related to me! Surely I’m not the only one who does these things.
Just take yesterday, for example.
My niece, who had a little stress in a new job, came to the hills to get revived. She was on the verge of a cold. Of course I said, “Come. Get rested. Get revived.”
After she arrived, she told us her realization. “The mountains calm me.”
I tried to take that fact into my heart and saw it was true for me, too. The mountains are a place of comfort, of calmness.
She is an adult and knows what her body needs: rest, quiet, water, a place to do laundry. I offered vitamin C and a cough medicine. Then I quieted the mama in me and let her move slowly through the house.
But yesterday, the mama-thing kicked in. I offered an egg sandwich with cheeses. She is fully capable, you understand, of making her own sandwich, oatmeal, cereal, or whatever, but the mother in me must have thought she needed a little homemade something.
Potato soup. That was next and her favorite, so I jumped on it. Homemade in every way.
On I went to a poetry meeting in town. Soon after arriving, my friend said she couldn’t find her purse. I encouraged her to retrace her steps. I read her face and saw sadness and worry. And I know how I’d feel if I lost my purse. Our lives are in our purses! She and I left the meeting to brainstorm and check out possibilities and options.
It took thirty minutes before she discovered her purse was hanging on the back of her chair! We women who carry across-the-shoulder purses unthinkingly hang them on the backs of chairs. And her jacket was on top of it. There, all the time! How many times is something right there in front of us and we can’t see it? True for me if I’m looking in the pantry, the refrigerator, the closet, the bedroom. And I am a fairly orderly person!
On discovering the purse, poets let themselves go from sorrow to fullness in seconds!
Then on we went with the critiquing of poems. It’s the way poets help each other. We had ten poets at the meeting, time enough to critique two poems for each poet.
After the meeting, I hurried to the grocery store to buy flexible band-aids for my husband’s poor thumb. He had a boo-boo, and the mama-thing in me said he needed a certain kind of band-aid!
I stopped at the grocery for two items. Two. So, I had no cart. I moved down the aisle slowly as I looked at the shelves. A woman almost ran over me with her cart! She apologized and said, “I can’t get this cart to do right!” Probably 85 and obviously couldn't see well. Merciful heavens! Could no one else see she was wobbly? Was I the only one who could see this? Or had my mama-thing kicked-in on overdrive?
On the way home with chicken soup ingredients, Kleenex, and band-aids, I had a big conversation with myself about where I got this mama-thing that I keep on auto-pilot. Where did it come from?
1. As a child I learned, Love others as you’d have them love you. In other words, be kind and caring.
2. I birthed two children in my thirties. I took it on as a wonderful but serious job. I was not a laissez-faire parent.
3. But friend, before I knew Jesus as my Savior, before I had children, I was a big sister or little mama to ten younger siblings. As the oldest girl in a large family, I was automatically thrown into a caregiver position. I fell into it because my mama needed the help. Chores were obvious to my eyes, and a crying baby was obvious to my ears.
Yes, that last one. That’s where it started.
My mama was old-school. She wanted cooperation, not procrastination. When she gave direct eye contact, you got the message and did not use wit or sarcasm. She probably was the one who taught me to read situations quickly and move on it.
Exactly what I did with my niece, my friend, the woman at the grocery store. The mama-thing has always been accessible to me. I used it yesterday to lower frustrations, to tend to business, to love others.
This mama-thing. I try to not enable others by doing their part, but if health, safety, or law is an issue, I don’t worry about boundary lines or enabling. We all need health, safety, and law, right?
Before I arrived back home in our valley, I was grateful for my history. Grateful for that mama-thing that will bend or act undignified to help.
Without that gift, I might not have become a teacher, mother, counselor, friend, dog-owner. So much goodness I would have missed.
If you can relate, just know that puts a glow in my heart.
P.S. Below the photo of aprons, you'll find my books, linked to their Amazon pages. All purchases are greatly appreciated!
Aprons displayed in the Donald G. Reynolds Library in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Photographed by Pat Durmon, February 2020.