The Sticks


What is a mother?

Throughout my life, I’ve had the honor of knowing some top-notch mothers – from my own mom, to my granny, to my great-grandma, and all of the cousins, aunts and other child-rearing women I’m lucky enough to be related to in one way or another.
They’ve taught me a mother is someone who offers endless support, unconditional love, sacrifice, strength and a solid moral background … sprinkled with a generous dash of humor.
I’m not yet 30 years old, and I already know there’s no way I can ever repay the generosity and love the mothers in my life have shown and continue to show me.
When I was little, I remember my mom picking me up from school – which was rare, as she was usually working – and bringing a little bottle of sparkly nail polish or other small gift to brighten my day.
Sometimes, I needed disciplined and, once, in an attempt to avoid the obligatory butt swat, I ran upstairs to my room, pickle in hand (I was mid-snack during my infraction). My mom was close behind and I stepped on a stack of books and slid into a wall, which sent my pickle flying. I hightailed it into my closet and covered myself with clothes, awaiting my fate. When mom opened the door, I stuck out my hand as an offering, quite upset about the wasted pickle, and told her to ‘just do it’, meaning ‘discipline me so I can mope about.’
Mom gave me a light smack on the hand and left. I think I saw her smiling. I guess she figured I had punished myself enough.
Occasionally, my granny babysat my brother and I. Often, I remember her telling us to save our fighting for when we were home with our parents – but to be fair, we were pretty conflict-prone siblings.
She watched a lot more Cartoon Network than she cared for, I’m sure, and between us and our cousins, she could hardly keep her fridge stocked with string cheese.
I was/am probably the most paranoid grandchild, and Granny tried to cure me of (or entertain herself using) my fears of food bacteria by telling me she had just opened a fresh can of E. coli to mix with my meal. Little did she know the extent of my anxiety. I ended up spitting much of my food into the bathroom trashcan on a few different occasions – just in case she wasn’t kidding.
Visiting great-grandma’s house was always a treat: There was plenty of room to roam and explore outside, lots of toys and usually a baked good or two lying around. I recall spending many an hour playing on the rug in the kitchen while the adults talked, or splashing around in the little irrigation ditch running through the backyard with my brother, pretending we were turtles.
When I got older, I went to church with my great-grandma most Sundays – and try to continue to go when I can. Most attendees remember and inquire about her, as she doesn’t venture out of the house a lot anymore, but she’s made quite an impression and positive example for the church family and myself to follow.
Within the next week or so, if everything goes as planned, I will become a mother, too. As the ever-anxious person I am, I’m worried about a lot of aspects of the delivery/raising a child process. But what I’m not concerned about – not even a little – is whether or not my daughter will have good role models to look up to.
I know that both she and I have been blessed with an abundance of women (and men) to love and admire – and if she grows up to emulate just a fraction of the mothers in my life, my husband and I will be proud to have raised such a strong, caring and honest woman. And she might be a little bit mischievous to boot.

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