Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mother load

Late yesterday afternoon my husband called to see if I was cooking supper--which I was, if you could call it that, and let me say in my defense that I generally do cook supper most nights, except not always on Mondays as I have Bible study, hence his phone call to make sure. He then asked if we had enough for his coworker, the President of his company, to join us. My first thought, and correspondingly the first words out of my mouth, were "But it's just frozen!" As in Stouffer's. I wasn't really cooking; I just popped the frozen entree in the oven and was calling it supper.

He did come for supper, and I was mortified. It's not that I'm some great cook. I'm not. And I don't really have any desire to be. But I'm a Southern girl and here in the South we equate hospitality with food. It doesn't make any sense, but although I had no desire to meet the standard, I felt guilty about falling short of it.

I knew my mother would have never offered a guest a frozen anything. Goodness knows she probably wouldn't have offered it to her family. I well remember my shock the first time I observed frozen waffles in her freezer. Okay, so I'm exaggerating. But only a little.

My mother is an amazing woman. She is an incredible cook. Just so you know what I'm talking about, when my sister and I were growing up we thought it was a great treat to go to my grandmother's so we could have canned biscuits. That's right. All we had at home were the made from scratch kind.

My mother is incredibly talented. She sews, she paints, she gardens. She has impeccable taste and decorates her home with the beauty of well loved antiques as well as an eclectic mix of "found" treasures.

You see what I have to live up to. Let's face it, Martha Stewart has nothing on my mom.

As I get older, I am coming to terms with the idea that I am not my mother. For example, as I've already alluded, I don't enjoy cooking, but do it only out of necessity. I like pretty things, but decorating my house kind of takes a back seat to other things. Like blogging for instance. I even let my Southern Living subscription go. I know, shocking, isn't it?

So much of me wishes I were like my mother and so much of me feels guilty for not. The thing is, I do not think I am alone in this struggle.

We spent this past weekend at my parents' home and I helped my mother do some cleaning out. Her mother, my grandmother, was a student of genealogy and her membership in organizations such as Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of the Magna Charta and Colonial Dames was a great source of pride for her. Her legacy to my mother is not only a grand heritage of patriotism and service to God and country, but also stacks and stacks and stacks of research notes, church and civic records, commemorative programs, and various and sundry items of genealogical interest. Let's just say my grandmother wasn't only an avid genealogist, she was also a rabid pack rat.

Now nearly three years after her death, my mother has begun the arduous process of sorting through the important and the not so important of my grandmother's papers. As we surveyed the piles yet to be tackled, my mother confessed to me her sense of guilt in not sharing my grandmother's passion for all things ancestral.

Her guilt in that she was not her mother.

"You're just different," I told her. "She wouldn't want you to like all this just because she did."

Okay, she might have. But that's beside the point.

The point is perhaps I need to take a page from my advice to my own mom. I'm just different and I need not feel the pressure to live up to her example. I never could anyway, but I'm learning that's alright.

Maybe you too deal with mother issues. Maybe you too feel as if you will never measure up. Maybe you feel some measure of guilt for being different. Or maybe you had no positive maternal influence and you fear you won't be different.

I'm here to give you the good news: You are not your mother and it is okay that you're not.

Repeat after me: I am not my mother.

Now, go and answer the call God has placed on you and your life!


  1. Now THIS is a post that I could honestly be blessed in reading once a month and always after having my mom visit! If I were talented enough to create an award of such and then html-it to you, I would do so. But, you know me. So in lieu of that--bravo for words well thought, well said, and well measured!

  2. Amen! I am not my mother, not do I want to be. But for some reason, she thinks I should be like her.

    It's also funny how the cooking thing skips a generation. My grandmother cooked. My mother does not cook. I cook. :-)

    I whole-heartedly agree that we all should just be what God has made us to be. There is a reason that we were all made different!

  3. Thanks for this--it can be a huge burden we place on ourselves!

  4. I recently guilted my way into a similar situation. I have a friend with a newborn in the hospital--in downtown Chicago! I haven't driven farther than the grocery store and church for so long that I am scared to death to drive in Chicago traffic (construction, tolls, YIKES!) But she needs a ride and I was feeling so guilty and upset with myself for being such a wimp. I was telling another friend about my anxiety over this and my shame at being such a chicken and she said, "Kim, you're good at lots of things; driving isn't one of them. Don't worry about it. Other people are good at driving."

    And it's true. Other people are good at that. BUt I am determined to follow the call God has placed on my life. Thank the Lord for friends who tell it to us straight.

  5. Thanks for this. You have no idea how much I say thanks for this!

  6. This is great!

    I am not a lot like my mother either...but in some ways I am. I have learned that God made all of us with different gifts and talents...another thing I have learned that even if something is not *my thing* if it is something I need to learn to do, I should for the better of others. For me this is in the area of hospitality...I do not have the natural gift for this and get really stressed out about it...thinking of all the things I need to do to make it perfect! Of course, all of those concerns stem from a prideful heart that would make me look good. But, God is teaching me to be to do the hard things for His glory.

    Stoufers lasagna is a much loved meal at our house! I'm sure it was delicious!

    Thanks for such a great post!


  7. I think some of us do put a lot of pressure on ourselves trying to be just like our moms even though our lives and circumstances are probably very different. Great reminder, Lisa, for us to be who God wants us to be.

  8. Really? You promise? I am sure I am becoming my mother -- and not necessarily in a good way. I think it's inevitable.

    Just surfing through from...um...I can't remember, frankly. :)

    Grrrrrr. I failed your word verification. Trying again...