Growing up, every Mother’s Day the children would sing a lineup of special Mother’s Day songs at church. This tradition still exists and is cherished by many a mother. This pandemic year that tradition will look a little different, but my mom’s favorite Mother’s Day remains unchanged: “I Often Go Walking.” When I was young, I thought it was a lovely song and all, but it took until I was an adult to understand the layers of meaning behind it. It starts simply enough: “I often go walking in meadows of clover and I gather armfuls of blossoms of blue.” At the end of the first verse it says, “Dear Mother all blossoms remind of you.” I have always loved that sentiment, because fresh, beautiful flowers do remind me of my mom. My dad has always been a generous flower-giver to my mom and she loves and cherishes them – taking care to water and display them, telling everyone who noticed that my dad gave them to her. It was also a warming sign of love between the two of them. She also loved the smell of spring flowers and would take drives to not only look at the blossoms, but to stop and smell them.
Understanding a Mother’s Day Song
But one day, as a young mother myself I was teaching my small children the same song (to sing for Grammy because she loves it so much) when the true meaning struck me. It comes in the last line of the second verse: “For if I love flowers, and meadows and walking, I learn how to love them dear mother from you.” As I sang the sweet message, tears filled my eyes. All that I love and cherish most in my life is a direct result of my mom’s powerful influence and all she has taught me!
I am the oldest of two children and as a young girl my mom dreamed of having a house full of children, but because of the struggle to get pregnant and then to deliver babies (my mom is super tiny) it wasn’t meant to be for her. My dad would often tell me that my mother literally “walked through the valley of the shadow of death” to bring me into the world because her 20+ hours of labor was arduous and almost deathly. He would usually follow it up with, “That’s how much she loves you.” Of that, I have no doubt.
For her, being a mother was second nature to her. Before having her own children she embraced her nieces and nephews with a great love that I have always admired.
I know she feels like most mothers on Mother’s Day – like she hasn’t measured up. She has often lamented the fact that she didn’t have more children and that it was so hard for her to deliver them. The other day she even told me that I deserved more Mother’s Day rest because I have more children than her! This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have a firm belief in my life that it doesn’t matter how many children you have, how you got them here or if you don’t have any children at all. Every woman has the beautiful capacity to love, nurture and care for others in a natural, wonderful way. The amount of children you have does not matter in any way and I sincerely believe that! And the reason why I believe this is because of my own mother’s beautiful example of selfless love and service to all of God’s children.
Loving all Children is a Gift
I grew up in a house full of children because my mom did daycare. It seemed like effortless, second nature for my mom. I didn’t realize what an arduous task that was until one day when I was trying to earn some extra money as a young mom I volunteered to watch a child of a woman my husband worked with. Well, that lasted one day. I quickly learned, that was not in my wheel house. On that day, I gained a whole new admiration for my mom and her ability to love other children like her own and she did it day after day for all my growing up years.
Of all the wonderful words I can use to describe my mother: clever, kind, loving, selfless, great cook, scriptorian, lover of the Lord, seeker of good, best sister, best wife, best Grammy – the one at the very top of the list far and away is Best Mom.
I know most all of us feel this way about our moms and we should. But she is the best mom for me.
This past year has been a rough one for our family. My dad was diagnosed with cancer last fall and it rocked all of us to our core. But my mom handled it grace and dignity. Last month my dad was told his cancer was in remission. I sat in the doctor’s office with the two of them and watched as tears streamed down my mom’s face and she reached over and grabbed my dad’s hand. “I’m just so happy!” she exclaimed, not embarrassed by her tears. At that, I started to cry. She had been keeping her fears in and hid them from me to not worry me, to protect me. That’s what a wife and mother is – caretaker first.
One day, not too long ago I was lamenting about the fact that my children just expect me to drop everything and run to their rescue. It was making me tired in every way. She offered counsel and advice, cheering me up and cheering me on. When I hung up the phone it was 11:45 p.m. I had just done the exact same thing to her I was complaining about. Plus to be honest, I doubt she even realized the irony because she just gives of herself so freely!
It’s easy for Mother’s Day to become this crazy day of self-doubt of my own shortcomings as a mother, but when I bring it back to my real reason for this glorious day it all goes back to the woman who taught me what life is all about. If I could change the last words of her favorite song just a bit to match my feelings it would go something like this: For if I love children and service and learning and to love the Lord, I learned how to love them dear mother from you.
Rachel J. Trotter is a writer at Evalogue.Life, where we tell personal and family stories that inspire, and help you tell yours. She has worked as a writer since her college days over 20 years ago. She loves telling people’s stories. She lives in Ogden, Utah and is busy raising six children and loves working on family history alongside her husband, Mat.
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