A Valentine’s Day Gift from My Mother
Connie Goldin, ©2011, Mom to Madre
February is the month that my mother and I share as our birthday month. Every year as a child, my mother would tell me that I was her Valentine’s Day’s present. Every year I would look forward to a beautiful birthday celebration and something special for Valentine’s Day. My mother did this for all four of her children while I was growing up. She repeated it again when a new family member joined us when I was a young adult.
My mother’s parenting style shaped my own with my sons, in so many ways. At the core of Mom’s parenting beliefs is the practice of putting kids first. Both my mom and dad built a home where children were included in all events and every effort was made to make sure that we were safe, protected, nurtured, and educated. Family came first. Today, I know that if I were to call my mom and say, “We have to go to Alaska to help ‘Jimmy’!” she’d say, “I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Do you want me to drive?” Nothing- distance, difficulty, or inconvenience-deters my mom from taking care of her family. This has been her style and purpose for sixty years. Grandkids count as her children.
I can remember the sound of her high heels clicking on the old wood floor in the public school as she walked to my classroom to help out. I can actually visualize where I was sitting and how excited I was that my mom was coming. From so many of these experiences I learned how important it is to kids when parents participate in their education and activities.
That same year, Mom gave me my first Laura Ingalls Wilder book, Little House in the Big Woods. I was home, sick in bed, and Mom brought me the book. I can “see” this scene in my mind, as well. I fell in love with this book and read the entire series several times. Through my mom’s encouragement and support of reading, I became a life-long reader and still share my mom’s passion for reading. It is a gift that has lasted a lifetime.
Mom grew up in Central California, and spent every summer of her childhood camping in complete wilderness. She grew up with total freedom to explore and be by herself in nature. Her stories of these experiences are a part of my life’s tapestry. Mom’s love and respect for nature and living creatures gave all of us children a sense of wonder and reverence for the world around us. Stray cats and dogs found refuge in my family’s home. In fact, I can’t remember ever buying or adopting a cat, yet we always had them!
It is impossible to calculate how many wonderful dinners, little celebrations, huge parties, special days with Mom “playing hookie from school” and little kind acts that Mom gave to and for all of us. My mother learned from her mother, and I learned from mine: Celebrating all of the special days in life is worth the effort. Children learn when mom works to pass on the family’s culture. Shared meals and celebrations teach children how to behave in different situations.
I still am excited when Mom has us to dinner. The table is set beautifully. There are always flowers and candles, and her food is cooked with love. I have had these experiences all of my life from her efforts. My sons remember and still share so many fun times with Grandma. This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to tell my mom that she is my Valentine’s Day present! In my heart, I carry the gifts that she gave me during my childhood-love, acceptance, and lots of fun.