My Amazing Mother

The blogosphere is swirling this week with posts about mothers, mothering, motherhood; brimming full with tales about mothers and what they have taught us. And so I add my story, the story of my Mama and what she has taught me.

She taught me too many things to number, but I must say, above all,  she taught me to serve those in need.

Growing up, the things she did…I thought it was normal–loading your kids into the car to go help a friend who was quarreling with her husband. She didn’t mean for us to see that man pick up his screaming, crying wife and push her into the car; she didn’t know it was going to be so bad, but her friend needed help and she went. “Get your kids in the car!” her friend screamed at her when we arrived.  I can still remember the scene. I can still remember my mom refusing to give up on serving this friend. Back into the car we went, over to another friend’s house to get more help.

Then it was my grandmother and my great-grandmother–her in-laws–who needed help. When their neighbourhood became too dangerous to live in, Mama didn’t hesitate.  She made space. She gave them each a room, a kitchen, a safe place to live under our own roof. When they were on their feet and no longer had to wait for the retirement home, Mama was still there: checking on them, bringing them grocery shopping, setting up checking accounts, helping them write checks and pay bills. They weren’t always cooperative, but she served them until they died. At my grandmother’s funeral, I remember Mama’s tears for her mother-in-law: “The poor old thing!” she sobbed as she looked at the casket for the last time. I had always thought it was such a bother–taking care of a bitter old woman who was seldom grateful. But that day I knew: Mama had compassion for her.

It was compassion that made her drag us to nursing homes to visit her grandmother, my dad’s grandmother and Mrs Bessie, her longtime friend in church. It was compassion that drove her to serve the youth and children of her church, teaching Sunday school. She served the women of the church, leading devotions and conducting lessons for the UMW.

She did all sorts of other things, for me, for my Dad, sister and brother, for relatives, for friends, for neighbours. Today she is still serving–now taking care of her own elderly mother, organizing a food bank, teaching art and craft to children in the church and community, babysitting my nephews, sewing baby quilts for every grandchild, making trips to Singapore (!) to help me after the births of my three children, hosting my family when we go back to the States to visit.

“She’s amazing,” my sister told me after she’d received her help for probably the thousandth time.

She is… and she has no idea.


Filling in the gaps

When all’s quiet in my sector of the blogosphere, it usually means life is far from quiet. And so it has been a full, almost overflowing past few months. I’ll start with July.

My mom, sister and 2 nephews arrived here in Singapore the second week of July for a two-week visit. It was a wild ride having four boys in the house and me being (a rather cranky) 9 months pregnant and trying to be a good host. We had a lot of extra outings during those 2 weeks including: the Singapore Science Center, Ft Canning Battle Box, Jurong SAFRA Kids Amaze indoor playground, Sentosa (I gave that one a miss), the Singapore Zoo, shopping in Chinatown and Orchard Road, the Chinatown Heritage Center and many many restaurants. And of course we made several trip downstairs to the pool. During this two-week period, my doctor also asked me to come for weekly check-ups and our Friday Science Group was still going on (I was to be doing lessons for the younger kids…but had to get help).

When it came to the end of July, I was exhausted…thankfully, my mom was still here and was taking care of most of the laundry and cooking. I had some other minor health issues toward the end of the month which meant more trips to clinics and more rest needed. That all passed after some time and I was able to focus on getting things ready for the baby.

August was mostly baby preparation and baby-waiting. I’d had plenty of Braxton-Hicks contractions but no real signs of labour. My mom was running out of books to read and things to clean, I was so heavy and had such swollen feet that I dreaded walking much and only wanted to be in air conditioned places where I could put up my feet. We continued with homeschooling for most of the month, until *finally* the Girl-child was born on her exact due date. We nicknamed her “Miss Punctuality.”

First week at home

I’ll save the birth story for another post, but here I will say that it has been an adventure already. My parents were both here for the first 2 1/2 weeks of her life–which was a priceless opportunity for  all of us and a great help to me. Now nearly a month has zoomed by, she’s put on a kilogram, and I’ve lost a few. The boys adore their sister and her dad is already feeling protective (when he can stay awake).

We’re on our own now, and my husband has been carrying a huge load of the chores and boy-minding for the past few days. I’ve been trying to get around and do a few things, although it’s  never as much as I hope to get done in a single day. But this is a time to put aside things that aren’t urgent, and stop in the middle of some things that are important and remember that it is the souls of people that are eternal. My blog is way out of date, my laundry isn’t folded and my potted plants aren’t happy, but human beings come first around here–and I’m going to try to keep it that way.