Sunday, November 21, 2010

Things I learned from Mom

Mom—the older I get, the more incredible you become. In fact, in just a couple of years, you’re going to be perfect, so I had better write this now so I don’t make all of the other moms out there jealous.

I remember several times growing up having ladies look at me and tell me how fortunate I was to have the mom I had. I wasn’t always convinced that they knew what they were talking about. After all, some of the other kids’ mom’s drove cool new minivans (yep, I thought they were cool!), bought potato chips and Twinkies at the grocery store, and let their kids have Barbies.

I had no idea just how difficult it must have been to be the teacher and the mom…and often the Sunday School teacher…the AWANA leader…the coach…the referee…the cook…the maid…the chauffer…the piano teacher…the drill sergeant…the manager...and the friend. You made keeping up with five kids look easy.


Everywhere we went and every time you had the opportunity, you and Dad served others. We served at church. Served in our home school group. Served in our neighborhood. And when holidays came and others had time off, you invited people over who had no place to go. You and Dad were givers and I know that we will never know the thousands of hours or the thousands of dollars that you invested in others.

Many of those people will never appreciate your sacrifices. But I know at least five who do. And a day doesn’t go by that the seeds that you sowed doesn’t continue to bear fruit in my life. Even though we live far apart now, you still motivate me to serve and to give.


Mom, you taught us to work hard. That’s a lesson you probably thought I would never learn. I was the one who was always skipping math problems, complaining about writing spelling words, and disappearing when it was chore time. Remember when you used to take us to the junior high school to run track? I hated that. I would do about anything to get out of having to run.

But somewhere the value of hard work must have started to sink in for me. And even though we tease you about the times that you went to sleep at the dining room table, we know that in reality, you are an incredibly hard worker. In fact, you probably went to sleep at the table because of the sheer exhaustion of the late nights, early mornings, and constant pressures of being wife, mom, and teacher. I know sometimes you got up at 3:00 in the morning to do your devotions without being interrupted.

If you ever wonder why your kids take on impossible projects, get themselves into tough situations, and attempt to get more done in a day than is legal to do, then you just need to head for the nearest bathroom and look in the mirror. We can’t help it. We are victims.


You also taught us to be respectful to others, particularly our elders. You talk about a zero tolerance policy. The first verse you taught us was “obey them that that the rule over you.” And the ones that had the “rule” over us taught us many things at the crack of the ruler. I remember the last time you spanked me. It was for talking back to you. I remember being hit 16 times, but I was determined not to cry and I didn’t. You were trying to teach me to be respectful and I was wondering how soon I could move out of the house and how far away I could get when I did.

But even though that particular spanking didn’t seem effective at the time, you taught us through your consistent lifestyle how to have self control. You were respectful to everyone—the teller at the bank, the driver in front of you, and even the customer service representatives at Wal-Mart. That was your way—and I had no idea at the time just how difficult that is.


I looked at the picture of you and Dad at Paul and Shannon’s wedding and I thought to myself, “Wow, she’s beautiful!” But you were never about external stuff…make up and jewelry and designer jeans. You taught us about modesty and that true beauty came from a meek and gentle spirit.


By your example, all of the Walker kids learned about living frugally. If any of your kids resort to living on welfare or credit cards, I’ll be surprised. You taught us to work for what we got and then to live on less.

I don’t have memories of fancy cars, expensive vacations, and eating out. In fact, some of my clearest memories as a kid involve waiting for a tow truck on the side of the road, filing up the car radiator with cups of water we took from the bathroom sink at Ross, and walking home from PIP on the hottest days of July because the drive shaft fell out of the van we bought for $800. Of course, there is the all time favorite…all seven of us in the backseat of a Honda Civic for an hour and a half.

And vacations…yep…those memories are even better…like the night we spent freezing to death in the Nastase’s pick up truck when our camping trip got interrupted with a combination of rain and snow. Or the drive down from northern California where we all took turns throwing up in the back of the van.

But not only did you raise us to live within our means, we really didn’t miss out on anything but headphones and personal DVD players. We enjoyed many happy hours in the van, singing, listening to tapes, and sometimes playing games. And when we stopped at Wendy’s at got a $.99 burger—what a treat!


You taught us discretion by example. Marrying Dad for instance. That was a good idea. Where did you get him and are there any more?

You taught us to think through things and look beyond the surface to the true message of a movie, book, or song. You taught us to just say “no” to things that seemed questionable.


Okay, so there are some things you weren’t particularly good at. Like cooking bacon, for example… Or making money (do the words “Grandma’s Garden” mean anything to you?)…or turning down your daughter’s idea to make plastic canvas manger scenes for all the relatives at Christmas. One time you even accidently bought honey nut cheerios instead of plain. But considering the number of things you’ve forgiven me (including the manger scene fiasco), it’s probably time we forgot about those things. Oh, and you are an incredible cook (bacon notwithstanding).


Someday, when we have time, there are a few questions I would like to ask you…like how in the world you got stuck walking Princess at 5:00 every morning when it was really your five kids who wanted a dog? And how in the world you convinced that mongrel who followed Paul home from Charlie’s to run away? But for now, there is one more thing I want to cover…

Mom, you have been a tremendous example of genuine agape love. Perhaps that sums up everything else. You continued to give, to serve, and to love even when it seemed like there would never be a return on your investment. I will never forget the years that Grandma lived with us and the added pressure that put on you. But you just kept on giving. I know there were many other times when you wanted to quit home school, church ministries, AWANA, or other things, but you held on because it was the right thing to do. You stay teachable and willing to listen to the Lord and quick to examine yourself so that you can truly put others first.

I guess we won’t ever be able to say that we have arrived on this quality. The rest of our lives we will be working toward true selfless living. But I believe that you got us started on a path that strives to put others first and continues to move forward, to grow, and to learn…especially when the going got tough.

Someday, if I have kids, I hope to pass on the things that I learned from you by my example. And if I don’t—I still hope that I live in such a way as to pass on the things I learned from you to others. I guess, in some ways, I won’t be able to help it—I am more like you than I am like anyone else on earth.

Mom, I love you. I just wanted you to know.