Originally Published: May 2, 2016 5:59 a.m.
Mother. One small word. One universal meaning. We are all bound by the shared reality that we had or have a Mother. This is a central person in our lives. The foundation of our history. A huge part of our personal journey and earliest memories. The reason that we are here and the person who probably shaped us into who we are today. Mother’s Day is coming so get out the photo album, take a moment to reflect and enjoy a day designed to honor the most influential figure in our lives.
Twenty-one billion bucks is what Americans will spend this year on flowers, dinners, cards, candy and jewelry to let Moms know they are loved. That is about $172 for each and every mother. Dads, try not feel cheated, but people spend 41 percent more on their Moms then they do for their Dads. True, it is just the thought that really matters, but it is nice to know that Mother’s Day is a major boost to the economy. Yes, Mothers deserve recognition. And gifts.
Mothers are our first teachers and taught us plenty of lessons. If we are lucky, we will take the most valuable ones and pass them on to our kids and grandchildren. It has been said that Mothers give us the tools to withstand all manner of challenges, the capacity to grow into our unique selves, and the safe harbor of unconditional love that is the rarest gift of all. Thank you, Mom.
Mothers come in all varieties. A man in Prescott emailed me to say his mother wasn’t exactly June Cleaver from “Leave it to Beaver.” He said, “My mother was a mechanical engineer who drank hard liquor, smoked too much, swore often, drove a motorcycle, liked to gamble and never cooked.” He pointed out that she was “very loving” and believed in the “freedom to be yourself.” Sounds like a beautiful lesson.
Mothers gave us our roots. They knew us before we knew ourselves. Their memories of us go far and beyond what we can conjure up. They were another generation, perhaps a whole other era, yet they remain relevant in a timeless fashion throughout our lives. There is always some new information to learn about (and from) our mothers. And some Moms just cannot stop teaching.
My mother is in her 90s (her exact age is an obscure, little known fact) and over the years she has given me, my daughters and grandsons quite a few cooking lessons. She has perfected the art of baking to a level that few of us (me) will ever reach. Her secrets? Use the best ingredients or your cake will flop. And be patient, because delicious things can happen for those who take time, care and can wait. Bread rises slowly. Don’t rush it.
Mothers keep teaching us throughout their lives. The lessons never end! Stand up straight! Eat your vegetables! Keep trying! Study! Work hard! Get plenty of sleep! Budget your money! Have faith! Be kind! A woman emailed me to say that her mother never held a job outside of the home, but raised five children, two of them adopted, and gave each a “foundation to be a good, decent, productive human being.” She went on to say, “My mother is my rock.” Yes, mothers can be the “building blocks” of our lives.
My mother gathered all of her recipes up and my father put them into a book before he died. Everyone in the family references Mom’s cookbook that is kept in close proximity to the kitchen. Who knew that you should use pecans from Georgia if you want the pecan pie done right? Or that it is imperative to use McIntosh apples for applesauce and types of flour choices are crucial to success. Oh, and if you don’t buy the best cut of meat, all of your efforts are for nothing. Invest in good ingredients or suffer the consequences. She believed in proper utensils and very sharp knives were more important than fancy granite countertops or double ovens.
Lessons, like recipes come in many shapes and forms. This is what Moms of all ages seem to specialize in – handing us recipes to put to use in our lives. The kitchen is only one small part of the “cooking class” that takes place when we consider the enormous influence our mothers have in our lives.
Life is like cookie dough. So how is yours shaping up? Dear Readers, it is never too late to upgrade your utensils, search for the best ingredients in life and try out a new recipe. Mother’s Day is coming … Bon Appetit.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.