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The Mom Behind the Mom I Am

I was her first. She and my dad had waited nearly 4 years after getting married for my arrival.

Mom and Dad both had a strange sense of humor, as evidenced by the names they came up with for me. Good thing I was a girl and became Lori. If I’d been a boy, according to family lore, I would have been given my father’s initials, and thus been named Golden Folden Holden.

Mom was hands-on. She was always playing games with us, teaching us to play piano, living at our level. Unlike me as a mom, she seemed, in those early years, to have no interests of her own other than raising her three girls (see, no boys. Proof of God?).

Consequently, I learned to read at age 3, because Mom spent hours upon hours reading to me while I potty trained. I grew up thinking books and bathrooms go together, like Dick and Jane.

We had only one car back in those days, and my dad took it to work. So Mom was without a car from 7 am -6 pm. I can’t quite recall when she ran errands and got groceries. We rarely ate fast food and she had three homemade meals on the table each day. These days, my children and I practically live in the car and just use the house as a place to sleep and store stuff (well, the stuff that’s not stored in the car).

I remember Mom adapting to some of our health issues. I was a rather sickly child, having severe food allergies as well as asthma. Mom learned to cook without eggs and nuts, attempted to keep a dust-free house, and she shuttled me to dozens of doctor’s appointments to find answers and remedies (not sure how, without a car). When my middle sister was 11 months old, she contracted spinal meningitis. I don’t remember my Mom panicking the way I would. (By the way, mom was told by doctors that if Sheri survived, her physical stature and mental capabilities would likely be stunted. She is 5’9″ and pretty darn smart.)

I love my Mom’s quiet strength. I remember vividly the day I found out we were infertile. She did not probe, suggest, plan, solve, push, advise. She sat on the grass with me that summer day and listened. Allowed me to wail and rail about the unimaginable fail. Even though I was sure it was the end of my world, I sensed that she knew I would inevitably find a way out. I hope to be and do this for my children, to simply dwell in their space with them.

My Dad is the quotable one. In fact, my sisters and I made a book of Dad-isms we recollected from our childhoods. We tried once to put together a similar book for Mom, but she has always been more about feelings. She’s made us feel safe, loved, cared-for, important, interesting. She is by no means quiet (she’s actually one of the wittiest people I know) but she delivers these loving sensations with her day-in, day-out actions rather than with words.

Mom has continued to nurture her grandchildren the way she nurtured us. When Sheri had twin boys before her first son was even 18 months old, Mom and Dad made frequent trips to the other side of the state to help Sheri during those bleary years. When I experienced post-adoption depression syndrome, Mom was there daily to relieve me and reassure me. When Tami’s husband suffered from full paralysis, Mom stepped in to care for their then 2 year-old son. Nearly round-the-clock, for months. And not a complaint.

I often feel I can’t hold a candle to her. I did not sit patiently, reading Pat the Bunny countless times while my children potty trained. I do not put 3 home-cooked meals on the table each day, every day. I do not play game after game after game with my children. I have not handled our health blips with the same aplomb she did. I complain. A LOT (ask Roger). I have my own interests, and I make them a priority.

I’m not actually sure what I *did* get from her, but I shudder to think how I would have turned out without her.

I am, perhaps, the luckiest daughter in the world.

What are some of the mothering traits you got from your mom? In what ways do you differ from your mom?


In what ways did your mom influence the woman you are today?

46 Responses

  1. I expect to pick up a lot from my mom once I start caring for a newborn and subsequently, a small child. But until then..

    In many ways, we are very different, b/c personality wise, I take after my dad big time. But something I really admire about her and like to think I got from her is a free spirit and an ability to “hang with the boys”. She’s very laid back and doesn’t make too big of a fuss about things; she’s not a high maintenence woman. I know I make more of a fuss than her, but compared to my friends, I am still VERY down to earth.

    She has always provided a warm and loving refuge for us, whether it was letting us stay home from school and eat macaroni and cheese for lunch (when she probably knew we weren’t really sick) or, as we got older, just sitting there and listening to us as we go on and on about whatever is on our mind.

    She’s a good hugger too 🙂

  2. These are wonderful gifts that your sweet Mom gave you and now you have shared them with your children and us.
    I will send you a link when I post this on my blog. Thank you, Lori aka Golden Folden Holden (holy guacamole!!)

  3. Lori, what was a beautiful and well-deserved tribute to your mom.

    I was there when you were an infant and it was amazing to observe first-time parenting. Your mom seemed to know “what to do when” and she did it with precision.

    I always admired her parenting skill. Your tribute, along with the wonderful comments by your special sisters, proves she did it right.

  4. As the third of the three luckiest daughters in the world, I can attest that Mom is, indeed, a perfect and complete Mom.

    It was my husband who suffered from full paralysis, and Mom stepped in to care for our then 2 year-old son, nearly round-the-clock, for months. And not only did she not complain, she packed lunches for me to take to the hospital, paid bills, answered scores of concerned phone calls and emails, had a healthy dinner prepared every night (complete with ice cream), and organized our own mini-extreme home makeover so that my husband could live in our home … all so that I could find my way to bed each night, and get just enough sleep to make it through another exhausting day.

    While raising her daughters, Mom cared enough about her girls to keep us from enjoying some of the good times that could have been resulted in danger or disaster. She wasn’t afraid to take the teacher’s side, because she knew that even if we were right, the teachers deserved our respect. She sat at every concert, every game, and every minor life event I can recall. (And there were a LOT of them.)

    I always tease Mom for not taking enough pictures of me, the third child. But there are enough photos of me to wallpaper Denver’s Cash Register building. And even if there weren’t, my memory is wallpapered with the grandest slideshow a woman could hope to view.

    My heart swells with gratitude and love.

    Happy Mother’s Day to the three grandest Moms I know … My Mom and my two sisters.

    I love you all!

  5. Lori — that was a beautiful post!

    I too have tears running down my face. Why? Because I share the wonderful mom you are talking about.

    I am the daughter who was sick with spinal meningitis at a year old. The one the doctor’s said that IF I made it, I would be deaf, retarded or both…my mom still jokes with me about the only result of the illness is my stunted growth (I’m 5′9″).

    I am the sister who had three boys under eighteen months old and leaned on my mom to help me change diapers, burp babies, load car-seats, find a way to eat, shower and go to the bathroom…and help me to get a much-needed nap.

    Now the boys are 12 and 13. My life is A LOT easier and I frequently see my mom’s traits in my own mothering (at least I hope I do).

    My mom is one of the best people I know and if I am only 1/10 the mother she is, I will be a complete success!

    Thanks Mom…for everything!

  6. What a beautiful post.

    I definitely got a sense of adventure from my mom. I never hesitate to throw the kids in the car and take off for an adventure of some sort.

  7. Your Mom is an inspiration. I love the way you stated how your mom “lived at our level”. I need to do that more with my boys.
    You have to remember you are a wonderful mom and you are the mom God picked for your children. You are perfect just the way YOU are.
    I had no idea about Sheri. She is truly amazing, sounds like your entire family is pretty amazing.
    Happy Mother’s Day!

  8. What a wonderful post. It sounds like your parents raised three girls who are just as amazing as they are.

    My Mom stayed home with me until I was probably nine. I think back to the things we did together and the things we shared and it makes me sad that my children won’t have the same SAHM life I was able to have. I guess we’ll just make the best of it!!

  9. Wow, Lori! What a beautiful post and a beautiful photo of you and your mom. I see so much of her in you – your eyes have the same light in them. I can tell from this post that you got a lot more from your mom – your grace and your ability to be with people where they are, both such wonderful traits that I see in you so often through your writing here.

    I am so much like my mother, it sometimes scares me when I hear her words coming out of my own mouth, and I expect this will only intensify once I have a child. I think my sisters and I would all say we’re like my mom, only in different ways. Some of the things I most value that my mother instilled in me are my passion for going deep into the heart of things, my desire to better understand myself and my process, a love for Queen Elizabeth, the joy of cooking from scratch, and the example of following my heart as she has done in so many ways in her own life.

    I am really looking forward to how our relationship will change once I have this baby and we get to know each other all over again in different roles – me as a mother and her as a grandmother (although I’ve gotten a good look at her being a grandmother to my 3 nephews over the past 5 years, I have a feeling it’s going to be different from the mom vs the auntie vantage point.)

  10. I’m going to have to come back and read the whole post later. I’m at work and the place is closing and they’re kicking me out (great employee, blogging at work), but I want to wish you and you Mom a Happy Mother’s Day. She sounds like a fantastic woman. Like mother, like daughter.

  11. My mother and I couldn’t be more different, really, except that I inherited her hair and her generosity. But personalities, opinions, goals, parenting philosophies are all polar opposites.

    One thing she did which was great, and which I can’t imagine I’ll do nearly as well, is to be fully present. I just don’t see myself patiently sitting there watching every dance class, piano lesson, sports practice, etc. The best my kids can probably hope for is for me to read or do work while I wait at practices, but pay 100% attention during the performance/game.

    If I’d been a boy, my name would have been an anagram of my husband’s last name. Freaky!

  12. These are my favourite lines:

    living at our level
    Allowed me to wail and rail about the unimaginable fail.
    She’s made us feel safe, loved, cared-for, important, interesting.

    Not only a great post about a great mother but great writing as well.

    I wonder what your mother would say about her parenting when she was at the stage you are now.

    My mother is amazing. She is patient and holds things in check. I’m not sure what I would do without her. Which is why I’ll celebrate her on Sunday 🙂

  13. I love this post. That pretty much sums it up.


    ps – if I had been a boy, I would have been Philip. Ugh.

  14. Beautiful post! I love this and am so glad you have a wonderful woman to look up to in your life. Our mothers are who we are and it’s a beautiful thing. Thank you for doing this!

  15. Very touching. Your mom sounds great.

    I won a free meal for mother’s day because I wrote a little story about what rocks about my mom, which is cooking, of course!! I think it’s about the only thing my mom and I have in common, our love of food and a good meal. She did not teach me how to cook, but I gained an appreciation for good food from her cooking.

  16. What a wonderful tribute to your mom – she sounds like an amazing woman! Thanks for submitting your blog post to our Mother’s Day blog contest. We’ll be listing your post, along with all the others, on our site after we choose a winner on Mothers Day. Hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow!

    Holly Hamann – Founder, TheBlogFrog

  17. I love that image of your mom not trying to fix things for you but letting you go until you found your way back.
    I’ve been so busy brunching and chatting with my mom, my aunt and my cousin .. all three moms … that no way have I blogged today. But I’ll join in here soon.

  18. One of THE best posts I have read in a long time. What a wonderful tribute to your mom, who sounds like an awesome woman! I will work on one to mine, as she is amazing too! xoxoxo

  19. i loved this post. I wish your mom would write one about how she felt at that time and if she felt she was measuring up or if she thought she had her own activities etc. And HOW did she go grocery shopping and run errands with no car!

  20. You’re very blessed. And it seems like she’s blessed to have you and your sisters. i only hope my 3 girls speak half as highly of me some day. 🙂

  21. yikes, what a circle we all are. i read this and am mothered by your mother. when I read her reaction to your problems with IF it was another gentle reminder to let people have their own guidance. they came here with all the help they need and all that’s required of me with my own daughter, the people i meet who i want to “mother”, is the same sort of abundant love your mom gave with wild abandon.

  22. Here from the future via Time Warp Tuesday and typing on my phone, so please bare with me.

    What an awesome post! I loved learning about the mom behind the mom you are, as well as reading your sister and aunt’s comments. She sounds amazing! You may not do everything for your family quite the way she did/does, but you certainly have grown into a woman, wife, mother, friend and advocate for the open adoption community that she can be (and surely is) very proud of!

    I learned so much from my mom, mostly about the kind of woman, mother, wife and friend I try to be, some through her words and some by her example. She strikes a great balance between being there for her loved ones and working for social justice for those less fortunate and taking care of herself and pursuing interests that are important to her.

    My mother had an incredible mother and strives emulate much of what she learned from the mom behind the mom she is. I have definitely benefitted in so many ways for both of the roles my maternal grandmother and mothe played in my life.

    I am proud of the mother I am to my living children and those who left this world too soon. But I am forever a work in progress and hope to continue to be a better mother to my children in the days and years to come.

    Thank you for sharing Lori! A very happy Mother’s this weekend to you and the mom who helped you to become the amazing mom you are!

  23. I’m more like you than your mom, but I love women who are grounded in the ways you describe your mother. There is something to be said about quiet strength! But we chatty ones have to say it, because the quiet ones don’t blow their own horn.

  24. The last line says it all – you feel like the luckiest girl in the world. How amazing that you can say that!

    Your mom may have done things differently than you do, but I’m sure you’re as amazing a mother as she was.

  25. This was truly beautiful. I hope my children feel this way about me, or that one day they will. I can’t imagine a better compliment than to have your children feel they were lucky to have you as a mom.

  26. I think you got more from your mom than you think. I get the same sense of generous spirit, just expressed differently. Those of us with amazing mothers are truly the luckiest people around, I think.

  27. Lori, I love this! I recognized so many of my mom’s qualities in your descriptions of your mother, and likewise with our fathers! I can’t imagine dealing with childhood illnesses like your mother did with you and your sister, but it sounds like she was the perfect woman for that job. I often compare myself to my own mother and despair at my lack of patience! So glad I found this hop today by chance!

  28. I keep reading about all these amazing women who did (and still do) so much for their families, without (like you say) complaining or batting an eyelash. You mom sounds like she handled everything so seamlessly…and without a car. How? How is it possible? I can’t get three meals a day on the table, and I feel like I’m at the grocery store at least every 48 hours. Ugh!

  29. Love this post, Lori, and love that your sisters chimed in, too. Your mom sounds amazing, just like the three of you

  30. I learned a lot about you by reading this loving blog post. It didn’t it even make me sad about what I missed out, but it had me counting my blessings, one of them being our friendship.

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