I have been blessed to be part of a line of women who are living an incredible legacy of motherhood. I am amazed how each one of their examples comes to my mind on a daily basis as I try to become the mother God wants me to be. I want to share five examples from five of these women today and express my gratitude for the tremendous impact they have on my life.
Grandma Blomquist. I always dreamed of living close to or living with my Grandma Blomquist. When I was almost 19 years old that long awaited wish came true when I moved out west for college. I did laundry at her home each week (it was the perfect excuse to spend time together) and the summer before I married Andrew I actually lived with her. She is the only roommate I consistently stayed up WAY past my bedtime for, chatting and giggling until I could fall asleep sitting up. During the day she tended one of my cousins, who at the time was a sweet two year old girl. My grandma always talked to her and about her with such respect. She constantly pointed out the good she saw in this girl, never letting an opportunity pass by for a genuine compliment or recognition. I watched this wonderful cousin of mine be the sweetheart she was under my humble, nurturing grandmother and I pray I can become that kind of mother in my own home, for all who enter.
Grandma Moose (on the left). My Grandma Moose died the summer before my junior year, after a really rough few years as her health declined. But really it was a life of hardship. Her mother died when she was five years old and she wrote that the worst sickness there is is homesickness. She wanted to be a nurse so badly but because of a skin condition, she was never allowed. She also helped take care of those that were supposed to be taking care of her. For all of these hardships, and many more, I remember that she kept going and she had a beautiful laugh. Her eyes often watered but when she laughed the tears streamed down. She worked really hard to support herself and family by baking, and she was incredibly good at it. When we visited I would try and wake up as early as she did (between 3-4am) so I could help make her Swedish tea-ring. I normally joined her just in time to drizzle the frosting and sprinkle the nuts. She was a bowler and was featured in the newspaper for her 7-10 split. She made strawberry shortcake in the summer and played Trouble with us grandkids for hours. This woman was truly remarkable, and I’m grateful for her example of strength, tenacity to keep going, and laughter.
Aunt Michelle. My Aunt Michelle and I are 14 years part. I remember her as a teenager and loved it when she would take time to do my hair. I thought she was as cool as cool gets and wanted to be just like her when I grew up. When Emily was eight months old she and I were visiting Utah and Emily was pulling all nighters. I hit rock bottom exhaustion and was content to lay on the couch and watch Emily crawl around on the floor. I turned down my Aunts invitation via phone and text three times to join her five (now six) kids and their cousins on a trip to the museum so that I could just rest. Well thirty minutes later I hear someone open the front door, run down the stairs, and burst into the room Emily and I were hanging out in. Aunt Michelle picked up Emily and said, “The last thing you do on a no sleep day is sit around the house. It’s time to get up and live.” When someone you think is really cool tells you it’s time to do something, you do it! I had a marvelous time and that was the end of my couch sitting moping days (with a few exceptions). This one experience literally changed my life in a dramatic way as I have the opportunity to picture my aunt giving her speech on a regular basis. I am so grateful for her.
Jenny. I love my mother-in-law. I have been so grateful to have her in my life and can’t remember life before her. From day one she made me feel comfortable in her home and part of her family. She shares judgement free love with everyone who walks in the front door. She is constantly serving family members, friends, and in the community in small and big ways, and definitely doesn’t get enough credit for all the work she does. She’s thoughtful, inclusive, and generous with all that she has, often at a large sacrifice for herself. What I really love is the questions she asks. Nothing’s off the table, but I know she is asking because she cares and it is fun to be able to talk about the good, bad, and ugly to a great listener who wants to know more. I love how she shows her love by being interested and taking time for each of us.
Mom. My mom is the perfect mother for me. She raised me in a safe, nurturing home, which this little anxious girl needed. I have so many memories of our life in Pittsburgh (so I was eight and younger) of finding notes on my bed when I got home from school or in my lunchbox or glasses case (which she brought to school when I forgot). When I couldn’t sleep at night she would whisper me stories: Adventures of Jessica and Derick followed by walking me through our dream garden complete with a gazebo. When I dropped my tamagotchi in the outside drain while waiting for the bus, she spent the morning fishing for it with coat hangers and then called the school so they could pass along the good news. She taught us how to pressure climb doorways and build paper airplanes. She constructed dream forts with multiple rooms and crawl spaces. When she had me all settled into my freshman dorm room at BYU and I wasn’t ready to start being a grown up yet, she took me back to my grandma’s house so I could cry and we could have one more night together. It is all of these things that I think about during the rough patches at our house. When I’m tired and just want the kids to go to bed, I remember, and tell a Emily and Nathan story. I’m so grateful for the legacy of compassion, creativity, and selfless service that she has left (and continues to leave) us.