It wasn't long before I realized that time with my mother was precious. Being "mom" to three young ones, working and going to school will make free time minimal at best. She was always there somehow though. She would leave us notes, or make sure that she read us a story. All of us piled into her bed to read a story, goodness knows which, books were important and it didn't matter the story as long as we got the point. It was a story, not real, but a story. Somehow, without saying it, it was always clear as to what was and wasn't real. In books they had big birthday parties, fancy dresses, and mysteries. In real life, at least in our house, we had small family parties, hand-me-down dresses, and the mystery of whether you'd get caught reading when you should be sleeping. Bed time was exciting though and exploring those worlds made my reality be whatever I wanted it to be. It was a story and a song, Mom would sing if she were home, and when she did, it was off-key and probably in the wrong pace or pitch, but it was perfect. Swing low, sweet chariot, I am climbing Jacob's ladder, and You are my sunshine topping the list of my favorites. With different seasons would come seasonal songs at times, Silent Night Holy Night and Holy Holy Holy, and in most cases the soft stroking of her thumb on my cheek would lull me to sleep no matter how hard I would fight it, knowing that she would be gone in the morning. If she weren't available, Grandma played a close second in my mind. When I would beg to stay up just a little longer, just so I could see her, to know she was home and safe and that I could sleep without fear that I'd wake up without her there, I knew I could win if I'd just say I missed her. Grandpa and Grandma probably gave into this too much, but how heartbreaking must it be to see a little girl just wanting her mommy? I can imagine the talks after I fell asleep about how they could break me of this habit.
In time, I came to realize that not only was my mother's time precious, but it was filled with her trying to improve our lives. She gave up a social life to work and go to school and raise her children, which is noble, but leaves me feeling that she could have had more. When time went on and new members were added to our family in the way of cousins, I couldn't help but think that one day I might not be the baby, which was a tiring and feared thought. What if a new baby did come someday? How could I possibly be replaced as the baby? I was the princess and would have it no other way. I needed my mom's time and hesitantly shared it with the brother and sister I already had.
When we had our few moments with her, they were treasured. I remember most clearly our "trips", we'd go to the beach for a day, or on a drive, in her cramped little car, always bringing lunch and never realizing that picnic lunches were a necessity, not just for fun.My favorite was the Wilder Ranch. They had a huge tree in the front of their property perfect for climbing, sprawling limbs with dips and curves, intertwining everywhere. It had grayish brown bark, that was cracked and curling anywhere you looked. Behind it was the old farmhouse, and the stables and barns. In the stables they had huge horses and animals everywhere. There was a huge lawn and a circular driveway. It was not far from the beach and and you could smell saltwater in the air. It was my perfect place. Still now when I think about that day, I think about how that place is where I would love to live.
All-in-all, the woman who has taught me the most, who has given her life to others, and wanted nothing but good for all of us; is my mother. She has been my mentor, my best friend, my hope when I thought all was lost and loved me no matter the circumstance. I want nothing more than to be as much like her as I can. Selfless and loving, she is the most amazing woman I know.