for release May 2, 2003
by Melodie Davis
Three Good Moms
I watched a mother and two small children in the orthodontist's office. She had brought a two- and five-year-old along to their older brother's appointment. The children were busy beavers-but the mother kept them under her watchful eye while they played appropriately in the nearby toy area at a very reasonable noise level. Sometimes, you get the feeling parents are trying to pretend they don't even know their obnoxiously loud offspring who are standing on furniture or grabbing toys from other children.
I was also impressed that when it was time to go, this mother made the children put the toys away themselves. Although she had to urge the little girl several times, she held firm, not giving in. I heard the little girl murmur under her breath "Durn, durn, durn!" But I thought, Wow, what a Mom. I hope I was that kind. Maybe I succeeded sometimes but frankly, I'm afraid that sometimes I did not.
This mother making her kids put away their toys in the orthodontist's office made such an impression on me that when I visited the restroom a little later and paper towels were scattered on the floor, I picked up the towels and put them in the basket. I thought about her again later when I saw people not putting their shopping carts away in the parking lot. This Mom gave me a good reminder by her example.
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My heart treasured a new story I heard recently about my father-and my grandmother. Since Grandma died when I was only 10, I cherished this new window into her life and spirit.
A former neighbor who knew my grandmother, said that Grandma Miller had prayed for my dad before he was ever born. Nothing too unusual about that. Then the clincher: Grandma really didn't want another pregnancy, according to this neighbor. I had never heard that before. It was Grandma's ninth pregnancy. Dad was the youngest of nine children, two who died during childhood. So because Grandma was not happy to be pregnant again, Grandma turned her worry into prayer. This neighbor related that my grandmother had once told her mother that she was especially pleased with the way my dad turned out; he eventually was chosen as the deacon for his church, and he took his ministry very seriously. She credited that to her prayers for him while he was in the womb.
How much of our upbringing do we credit to parents, to the environment, to others, genes or to God? I do know one thing: glimpsing my mom and dad down on their knees praying for me (and others) when I tried to sneak past their bedroom door at night was always a prick in the conscience. So my grandmother's prayers were passed on to me by example.
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I have joked in this column that I learned to fix vacuum cleaners and write complaint letters from my mother (and many readers said they enjoyed those columns) but in truth I have learned much, much more from my mother. She is not perfect and has her faults, but when I look at her life and the emotional pain she has endured from so many of life's ups and downs, I am in awe. She has struggled with so much heartache and worry. What a trooper. I gain strength just looking at her example.
A neighbor man said he always enjoyed driving up the lane past our house to the farm where he worked because he could frequently hear my mother whistling or singing from our kitchen window. It is no secret that she also whistled when she was upset or angry. But it was her way to blow off steam and worry. She taught me that I can endure most anything.
What kind of lessons are you teaching your kids, grandkids, or anyone around you?
For a free book on mothering, write for my book, Working, Mothering and Other "Minor" Dilemmas. Write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 691 words; end material = 105 words
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