Yeah, I know some folks spell it mama. I use to spell it that way too. Then my son started signing his cards and letters to me with "I love you, Momma"; and I changed. Some folks don't say momma. They say "mother, or mom, or ma". In the end, I suppose it doesn't matter all that much until you go to pick out one of those Hallmark Mother's Day cards. Then you look for the name you use for your mother. I called my step-mother, Mama. My biological mother, is simply the woman who carried me by God's grace, and left me when I was 3. Not everyone had a Hallmark-moment mother. So when I remember mothers, I think mostly of my step-mother and all she was to me.
On Mother's Day I try to set aside the bad memories of continual criticism, the emotional, mental and physical abuse I suffered as a child. Instead I focus on the things that were honorable. I remember mama's steadfastness in caring for three kids that were not really hers. I remember the endless meals she prepared. I consider the clothes she made, mended, washed, ironed and put away in my dresser. I recall watching her outside on the back porch in freezing winter weather, and sweltering summer heat. She scrubbed our clothes on washboards and put them through the washer and ringers and dipped them into two different galvanized tubs of water, then hung them on the clothes line to dry. What a process!
I recall the times she made taffy and let us slop butter on our hands to pull it. I remember the way she made biscuits from scratch, and her homemade strawberry jam, and apple butter. I remember the lunches she diligently packed each day for we five kids and my dad. I remember the gardens she planted, the pails upon pails of water she drew from the well and carried to the hundreds of plants on the hillside to ensure a harvest. I recall the thousands of canned Ball-jars filled with tomatoes, green beans, peaches and pears.
I recall the thousands of yards of material she sewed making dresses, quilts, and slipcovers for us and other people to make a little money for herself. I know mama wasn't the ideal mother. I know she had a lot of mental problems. Today they would probably diagnose her as bi-polar or assign some other fancy name to her mental anguish. And if I let myself go into the dark abyss of childhood heartache, I suppose I could find little to honor in the mistreatment we endured. But Mama was more than the sum total of her weaknesses.
Mama said she was never happy in life. She'd been through two abusive relationships when she met my dad through a Lonely Hearts Club advertisement in a magazine. She believed he only married her to raise me and my two elder brothers; Daddy believed she wanted a father for her sons. I think they were both right. Oddly, even though she felt this way, she still sang songs...lots of songs. She sang of God's amazing grace, and in the Sweet By and By.
Mama was an encyclopedia of witticisms: The stitch in time, saves nine. Idle hands are the devil's workshop. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. So, as I remember mama I have to say, she tried--she meant well. I don't think she knew any other way to be than the way she was. If she were still alive, I'd send her roses. She loved roses. As you remember your mother this week, do yourself a favor--remember the good times and try and say something nice to her. It's the honorable thing to do.