As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I decided to rank my favorite memories that I have of my mom from growing up. I narrowed it down to the 5 that I think capture the full spectrum of experiences growing up as my mom’s son.
5. Convenience Store Black Out
The details of this one are a little fuzzy to me. I must have been in middle school at the time. My family and some other friends from church all went to a lake to go swimming for the day one summer. To this day I only know the lake as “Tea Lake” which is what all of us kids called it because from the shore the water looked brownish and it kinda tasted like tea. We spent the entire day there swimming and playing on a pretty hot day. I remember it being awesome. When it was time to leave we all piled in the car to go home, but along the way we stopped at a High’s convenience store for some ice cream. While the moms were at the counter ordering, I was browsing the sunglasses rack. Suddenly I realized that I had no peripheral vision and I felt kinda funny. I walked over to my mom at the counter as my vision continued to get blurrier and blurrier. I remember it was like the end of those old cartoons where a black circle swallows everything up. When I got to the counter my mom asked me if I wanted chocolate or vanilla ice cream. “I don’t feel good,” I replied. That was when I totally lost control of myself and could no longer stand. As I wrapped my arms around moms legs for support and slid down them like a fireman pole, all I could hear was “Josh! Stop it! What kind of ice cream do you want?!” I think there was even some gentle kicking as she tried to make me be serious and tell her chocolate or vanilla. That’s when everything went black. Evidently I had spent the entire day at the lake without drinking a single drop of water and I was totally dehydrated. I only passed out for a second and the next thing I knew I was in the bathroom of the High’s being handed some ice water and my mom apologizing for not believing me. It’s my favorite funny story to tell about her.
4. Disney Road Trips
Mom raised us to all be Disney kids. We had all the movies and could sing all of the songs. Our family made more than one trip to Disney World during my childhood and we always did the 14-hour trek in whatever minivan we had at the time. We got more creative with the minivans as the years went on; taking out the middle seat so it was more like a limousine, jerry-rigging a stand for a small TV so we could watch movies during the trip, etc. We would spend hours listening to Disney soundtracks, watching Disney movies and of course sprinkling in some Adventures in Odyssey. These are some of my best memories with the family and I definitely think my mom is to thank for injecting all the Disney magic into our lives.
3. The Stunner
I hope it doesn’t embarrass her for me to tell this story because it’s seriously a great memory for me. One time my mom and sister were trying to co-plan a party for some guests. They were having some disagreements and they were arguing in the hallway outside of my room as it was quickly escalating into a shouting match. Mom was standing outside my door when I heard my sister storm off in anger. She just slowly turned her head to look at me and calmly said, “Ya know, it’s times like this that I just think…” What followed involved words I had NEVER heard her say before. I just stood there in stunned silence, not knowing how to react. I’ve always loved this memory because I felt like we connected. She voiced her frustration in a very raw, authentic way and I appreciated it. It made me want to buy her a beer or something.
2. Every Christmas Ever
Along with the inability to sleep without a fan in the room and a taste for spaghetti with plain Hunt’s tomato sauce, my mom has passed on to her kids a serious love of Christmas. We grew up in one of those houses where Christmas was truly a magical day. We looked forward to it for weeks and I can’t remember it ever failing to live up to the hype. Mom was serious about getting the decorations up and playing constant Christmas music. Every year we were told in late November, “Guys… money is tight so I think Christmas is gonna have to be pretty small.” But it never felt that way. Christmas would roll around and she always found a way to make the tree a cornucopia of gifts. Christmas morning is a true ritual in our family. The kids all come down the stairs together to find the gifts that Santa left unwrapped and sitting around the tree. Next come the stockings. Then, we take turns opening gifts one at a time. It takes hours; most of the day actually. It always feels epic and it’s because Mom always does such a great job of making it special.
1. My First Break Up
When I was about 16 I had my first serious relationship end. I was totally crushed. Mom came home to find me really upset in the basement. Up to that point I wasn’t really comfortable talking to her about my relationships, but I was so distraught that I told her everything that had happened. The way she handled it was so amazing. She was gentle, understanding and not at all judgmental. It was the first time I had ever experienced that side of Mom and I think it was a major turning point in our relationship. That evening I learned that I could really trust her enough to open up on deeper levels. I think I also began to notice that other people also find comfort in talking to Mom when they are hurting. It’s a gift that she has and I benefited from it big time that night.
Obviously there are many more memories I could share, but these 5 were the ones that stood out as I was thinking about what a great mom I have. The older I get, the more I can see the ways that she influenced me and how much I have to thank her for.
Happy Mother’s Day!