When I was in 4th grade we lived at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. We would only live there a year while my Dad attended a school. I have mostly happy memories of that year, but there were some challenges. That year was the first of a lot of times that someone called me “chubby”, and without dwelling on it, it set in motion a mental struggle that continues to this day. I tell you this to set the scene for my Mother’s Day story.
Every Tuesday we had PE class, and for some reason, no matter what we did in PE, we always ran a race at then end of the class. Inevitably, I was always the last to finish. Every. Single. Time. Even Elmer, the chubby-er kid, was faster than I. I was actually quite athletic in spite of my girth, but just genetically slow-moving. My whole family was and still is. I cried about it to my mother one day. Just like any mother would, she encouraged me to do my best, and said she KNEW I would do better the next time. Well, the next time I was last again. I don’t recall being that devastated by it, and most likely I had already moved on to some other drama, but as I walked home for lunch that day I saw my mother waiting on the stoop of our house. She had a very hopeful expression on her face as she asked me how I did in the race. I just didn’t have the heart to tell her I was last again, so I lied. I told her that this time was different! This time I did not come in last! She hugged me and said she knew I could do it!
It’s remarkable for sure that my mother had 7 other children to think about, and I won’t even start on my father’s need for attention (I can say that because he knows it’s true). But on that day, I was her most important concern. What lingers the most, though, is that I learned to tell those little white lies from my mother. She never actually SAID to lie, but by example, we learned that it’s not about us all the time. Sometimes you have to put aside your own feelings to make someone else feel good. The lucky outcome is that inevitably it makes you feel better anyway. I think many mothers pass these lessons on, but today, it’s about MY mother, and that’s what I’m thinking about.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom.
Love, your sluggish, liar of a daughter.