Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Every Mother

In honor of Mother's day, may you each be blessed with an 'Everymother'

"She is like a second mom to me."  Music to my ears as my son Ryan describes the mother of one of his closest friends.  I know that his 'everymothers' are so important to his becoming a great man who has learned to appreciate the effortless thoughtfulness of great women.  And my heart is full when my neighbor's son Matthew asks me why my mashed potatoes taste so good.  I readily reply, "Because I've cooked them with love sweetheart."

"I could tell." he says, with a full mashed potato cheeked twinkling smile.  Only an 'everymother' could appreciate that kind of heartfelt admiration.  My mashed potatoes have become my 'everymother' staple.  I even have one 'allchild' that receives them in a take home container for her birthday every year.   

I myself was a lucky 'allchild' to several 'everymothers'.  Ginger's mom was an adventurous 'everymother'.  Mrs. Ross taught me how to eat artichokes, walk two Great Danes at once, and she had Maryland crabs shipped to their home, live and bedded in huge boxes of seaweed a couple of times a year.  I remember having crab races on the linoleum floor in Mrs. Ross's kitchen.  I often make artichokes and think of Mrs. Ross and the excitement that seemed to swirl around the Ross home, and I still can walk two large dogs with the best of them.  The crab racing however is best kept as a fond recollection, as some adventures are not for every 'everymother'.

I was an 'allchild' to Molly's mom too.  Mrs. Stephenson could bake a key lime pie that with each bite would take you straight into the deep south.  Her graham cracker crust was incredible.  I still can not quite master it, or perhaps because it was made with her loving hands it just does not come out the same.  Mrs. Stephenson would always set an extra place at the table for our dolls, and during sleep overs she would tuck the dolls in too and kiss them good night.   Mrs. Stephenson loved animals as much as she loved children.  She especially liked the wild ones, and was often known to leave treats for the squirrels outside and I loved how she giggled when she watched them take her gifts with their cute little paws.  Being the good 'everymother' that she was, she even took in a stray motherless raccoon into her home.  She bottle fed the little guy until it was time to set him free, and she told me in great detail with tears in her eyes about how she felt when she let him go.  I have never forgotten her selfless and gifted way with children and animals alike.

 As I became a teen, the 'everymothers' slipped into the background, as did our own parents. Except for one, and my memories of her tireless pursuit to be a mother to all who knew her, is the origin of my desire to carry the 'everymother' torch.  Other than my own mother, she was the person who I knew truly cared about and loved me in a way only a true 'everymother' could.  She had the ability to show her children and 'allchildren' a positive and simple world in a way that is so easy to forget in the midst of the everyday complexities of teenage life.  This kind of caring is the central mission of the 'everymother', and Mrs. Nemer had a way of making us see, and smell, and taste, the glory in each day.

Mrs. Nemer was the mother of six kids.  When I embarked on the doorstep of the Nemer family home, and was quickly made an honorary Nemer, I was a senior in high school who had just relocated from a different town.  Her two daughters were my fast found best friends and I always felt as though we had all known each other forever.  The four Nemer boys ranged from ages 9 to 21.  The Nemer home was an entertaining place to be all of the time, with a constant flow of 'allchildren' there enjoying the freedom of being in a house with six kids, all with different personalities, and six different groups of friends.  There was always something to do when you were there.  We played games in their pool, cards at the card table, and we talked and talked while listening to fantastic music, and watching many sunsets and sunrises from the front porch of their Michigan house. 

I spent so many summer nights with my friends Mary Ann, and Anne, and the three of us, with the complications of our youthful angst, could always count on their mom to remind us of the simplicity that surrounded us.  "What a beautiful night." she would proclaim.  With the timing of a master she would ask, "Have you ever seen so many stars?" We hadn't bothered to notice, but when she said it, it was like a dose of a noteworthy moment in an unpredictable future, and she knew exactly how to teach us to try to stay in that moment and not worry about that which we have no control.  The struggle still exists, but as a lucky 'allchild' of Mrs. Nemer, I honor and think of her each time I notice a beautiful summer nights' sky.

I can not talk about Mrs. Nemer without mentioning her ability to cook and bake.  She loved to bake pies, and her Christmas cookies were unforgettable.  She would present plates of them to us every night during the holidays.  And in the summer months she would bake pies in her trademark bikini, while she cared for other lucky 'allchildren' in her home based day care.  One of Mrs. Nemer's 'allchildren' told me that if you lived within walking distance of her house, you could go there each day before nap time for a snack and some juice that she had readied for each neighborhood child. 

Mrs. Nemer was an 'everymother' to so many 'allchildren' that at her funeral her own children were overwhelmed by the droves of us who came to celebrate her life.  Each of us there to tell our own stories of her special kind of maternal love that we fondly remembered, which later became a legacy of her life as one of the truly great 'everymothers'.  Our relationships with her were both cherished and significant to each of us who were lucky enough to be her 'allchildren'.  Through her simple caring, and the sum of all of the little things we each remembered, we were significantly impacted throughout our lives as she showed us that people can deeply care, and show real love, even when they are not from our own family.

Being the blessed daughter of an 'everymother' has been a moving gift for me.  Like favorite teachers I will never forget, the impact of these thoughtful caregivers in my life can never be underestimated, as they gave the gentle gift of making my life seem a little less complicated. It is in this light that the chronicles of the experiences with my 'everymothers' impact the way in which I love each 'allchild' in my life for their own unique individuality. The gifts that I in turn receive by giving them the time and patience that I learned by example are beyond any measure.