“I just sort of assembled it:” A Celebration of My Mother

My mother is an incredible cook. She always uses tons of vegetables and fills the house with wonderful smells that will always remind me of home. She has a way of making healthy foods seem actually appetizing, and I am grateful to her for shaping my diet as it is today.  Of course, that’s not the only thing I am grateful to her for, but I’ll get there.

My mom has this phrase she says whenever you thank her for feeding you one of her amazing meals.

“Oh,” she says, “I just sort of assembled it.”

This response highlights some of the things I find most inspiring about my mother. She does great things, yes. But what’s more significant to me is that she does those great things with an unmatched sense of grace and humility. She makes light of her achievements not because they are light, but because she doesn’t want people to focus on them. She is confident enough in herself to know that she is doing right and she doesn’t need anyone else’s affirmation. Of course, I’m sure she enjoys being appreciated, but gaining the attention of others has never been the motivation behind anything she has done.  I know this because, all things considered, I know very little about the things that she has done in her life.

My mom is a fantastic violinist, who played in bands and orchestras all the time when I was growing up. People came from very far to hear her play and it became one of my favorite things to hear as well (and I got to do it for free any time I wanted!). She also worked at a violin shop when I was a kid, where she helped people all over southeast Michigan get started on the right instrument for them. She also spent a lot of her free time teaching bratty kids to play and instilling a love for music in her own somewhat bratty kids. I am obviously quite thankful for that.

Here’s a shot if her playing her violin at my wedding:

(Photo taken by Ashley Waite)

My mom heard another calling later on in her life and decided to go back to school to become a nurse. Knowing how hard it is to get a job in the first place nowadays, we can all see how courageous it is to change careers entirely. But she did just that, while still caring for my siblings and I every day as well.

My mom is a very skilled nurse. In fact, just last week she spotted some suspicious signs in one of her patients that others had missed. She managed to get the doctors to the patient quickly and save the patient from a potentially serious condituon. Everything worked out, but who knows what would have happened if my mom hadn’t been there. The other nurses and the patient’s family called her a hero, but she of course didn’t brag about it for a second. In fact, the only reason I even got the story out of her was because I was fact-checking with her about something I saw on “Scrubs” (like you do). In a world where people post their every little achievement on Facebook, my mom is saving lives and not mentioning it until it comes up in conversation.

She is the best woman I know.

I hope to one day know all of the things my mother has done for others, but in the meantime I know only what she does for our family, which is, in a word: everything. While growing up, she inspired me to play and have adventures and learn new things. She taught me to enjoy the little things in life, like classical music, long walks, and a good cup of coffee. She always pushed me to try my hardest, a quality which she encouraged in me by simply being there for me without question every time I failed. Even now, she is always there for me with open arms and a helpful hand. I am overwhelmed by her generosity towards my little family on a daily basis. She is always predicting things we will need and just picking them up for us when she sees them at the store. She learned how to bake tons of vegan desserts when my husband decided to change his diet. She is willing to come over pretty much whenever I ask her to to take care of my son so that I can get a nap in. She’s the all-time best. Seriously.

I could go on and on about what my mother has done for me but there isn’t enough room on the internet.

I say “My mom is x and y” a lot like I know everything she is. But my mom is so many things. Lately I’m realizing that our mothers are like our schoolteachers in that it’s hard for us to think of them as having a life outside of their relationships with us. But they do, and I think we should all take some time out on this Mother’s Day to think about the many facets of our moms.

My mom has always put my siblings and I (and our dogs) first, so it has been easy for me to focus on that part of her in my own mind. But the truth is she is many things to many people: a musician, a teacher, a cook, a baker, a nurse, a coworker, a team member, a student, a daughter, a wife, a friend, and on and on. I don’t get to know all that she is, and sometimes that really bums me out. But I do know that in all of those roles she is an inspiration to me because she gives and asks nothing in return. And most of the time, at the end of a long day of doing all of those things, she will claim that, instead of creating that beautiful world for so many people, she merely “assembled it.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you awesome mamas out there!

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2 thoughts on ““I just sort of assembled it:” A Celebration of My Mother

  1. Dorothea says:

    Ah, you forgot her in her sister guise. Such a loving, talented, funny and fun woman. And she was the same as a girl.

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