Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mothers

All my life, my thoughts about the future hinged on my wedding day.  That was going to be the turning point, the moment when everything changed and I would become someone else.  It's not that I wanted to be anyone else, I just felt that must be part of getting married.  I thought a lot about what I was going to do before getting married, but my thoughts about what would happen in the years afterward were rather hazy.

Imagine my surprise when, the day after getting married, I realized that I was exactly the same.  I stayed the same in the following months.  Soon I realized that although it was wonderful to be able to spend so much time with the man of my dreams, getting married hadn't really changed me at all.

Then I had a baby, and whammo!  There was the big transformation I had been expecting.  I was BORN the day my son was born, and became so many things that I love that I am.  (Am I allowed to say that?)  And I'm still becoming so many things that I would love to be.

Who gave birth to me that day?  The following women, and dozens of others (if only you all had longer attention spans): My mother, my grandmothers, my sisters, and my bounty of beautiful aunts.  They had been nourishing me in their spiritual, intellectual wombs all my life.  And now that I am born, a mother, they continue to nurture and teach me.

I have chosen one attribute (alas, only one!) for each of my mothers, which I associate with her personally, and which I hope to incorporate into my parenting.  All of these attributes together define good mothering in my mind.

My mother Jan
I have had more than one friend, from junior high onward, exclaim that they never met a more cheerful person than my mother.  What greater gift could she have given her children than her constant cheerfulness?

My sister Nonie
Always certain that if someone else can do it, so can she.  Not cocky about it, just believing!

My sister Melissa
Simple love
My first experiences with her included awe at the quiet, meaningful compliments she constantly issued to the people who surrounded her.

My sister Ariel
You don't have to follow this blog very long to know what I mean.  Give her a task, and it is as good as done.

My sister Abby
No question, you and she will have a good time together.  Ever since her very tiniest years, she has been a joyful spirit.

My sister Kate
She knows why she is doing what she does.  And if she doesn't, she makes sure to find out.

My sister Julia
She allows herself to be exhuberant about the things that might only mildly excite someone else of similar interests.  I see this as a quality of humility.

My sister Amanda
And I mean the best kind of humor ... one that doesn't try to draw the spotlight to itself, but that comments honestly on the matters at hand with a light heart.

My grandma Nonie
It doesn't really matter what the topic is, you feel she is genuinely interested in everything you have to say.

My grandma Evelyn
Remembering old times with fondness, and reminding others of them, is an essential motherly quality which I might not have recognized without her help.

My aunt Ramona
She is an organizer of thousands, a teacher of perhaps as many, and whether she is scaling Mount Kilamanjaro or conducting a music group, you feel confident in her footsteps.

My aunt Tamara
Every birthday, every year growing up, I and all my many siblings received a card.  She always knows what is going on in my life, though we have been long separated.

My aunt Pat
Is that a word?  It is her word.  She is unafraid of survival in the wilderness --- on the contrary, she has skills to transform the wilderness into a warm and welcoming home.

My aunt Mary
She is always the first to acknowledge a kind or generous act, and taught me to do the same.

My aunt Julie
Even though her children are all grown and gone, she has been a pillar in her active twin grandsons' lives by watching them several times a week while their parents work.  She has learned resilience, which is what it takes never to say, "I'm done."

My aunt Sarah
Back when we were what she called "teenie-boppers," she sought our company and made us glad she was with us.  She knows how to reach the young people in her life, and that will always keep her young in my eyes.

My aunt Lisa
Her home is a western oasis of down-home decor, all of it envisioned and completed by herself.  Oh, if only I were the daughter who will inherit her delicately painted kitchen table.

My aunt Martha
Always watching out for all, evidenced by how many people from everywhere seem to know her.  She has reached from here to China with her love and back again.

My aunt Barbara
She abandoned me young, moving some of my closest cousins out of state.  But she took her new home town by storm, and infused her spirit of entrepreneurship and enthusiasm in all her children.  She stays up really late to chat and have fun (which I think is related to her spirit of adventure).

My aunt Chris
She has a wonderful presence.  I sense security and unselfish love whenever I am with her.  The friendship I observe between her children is a testament to her steady mothering.

My aunt Cynthia
Once intimidated by how much she seemed to know and all she had accomplished, I now revel in my association with this witty, intelligent, well-rounded friend.

My aunt Georgia
Healing hands
Literally, because she is a massage therapist, I have experienced her healing handiwork.  But her hands touch so many who never enter her practice.  She seeks out the needy, and is unafraid of digging her hands into the muddy, fruitful soil of service.

My aunt Liz
She has incomparably beautiful eyes, cheekbones, and lips.  But I have a hunch that they derive their prettiness from her effusive love and her unfailing smile.

My aunt Jana
Once we got home from a performance, and her daughter informed her rather frantically that she had left her violin downtown.  I expected to hear, "What?!"  But instead heard, "Oh okay, well we'll drive back down and get it," in the most gentle and accepting voice.  What a safe place she provides for those she mentors.

My aunt Jeanna
Bright eyes
I always have felt that this is one of the greatest gifts to have, and my does she have it.  When I picture her, I always picture a twinkle in her eyes.  Oh, the importance of being bright-eyed!

I want to be a cheerful, confident, loving, industrious, smiling, purposeful, passionate, light-hearted, engaging, mindful, charismatic, thoughtful, pioneering, grateful, resilient, youthful, artistic, helpful, adventurous, steady, accomplished, healing, beautiful, gentle, bright-eyed mother.

And I don't want it despairingly, but hopefully, because of the examples of these women, who bore me into motherhood.


  1. My sister Meredith
    She's always had this gift, and it's grown with her. It has shown her the true from the false, the good from the bad (and the better from the good). Her discernment leads her heart, and she follows her heart. I follow it, too. With confidence. :)

  2. What a beautiful tribute! I love all of the women in this wonderful Marshall/Sorensen family, and it is a great honor to be counted among them!

  3. Meredith, is the picture of the flower yours?

    1. No (blush), it came from the Wikipedia "flower" article. I should switch it out for one of Cam's!

  4. What a lovely post! Nonie's assessment of you is right. And I also that your generous assessments of us are attributes you already posses. :)

  5. My Daughter Meredith;
    DAUNTLESS... shown in your willingness to take on a big project like this one. It is rare to have so many aunts/mothers/sisters, and more rare to write about them all in one spot. But I know it did spring from the love in your heart, which made the project not so big, but oh so satisfying, I am sure. And each of these lovely women in our lives does indeed possess the qualities you put forth, and a mingling of each other's spiritual gifts as well, which grow as they seek. I love each one with affection unspeakable. And I love you, and your discerning, appreciative nature.

    I will try to be cheerful as you fly away to William and Mary next month. I will try.

  6. This is beautiful. Really. I loved reading about these amazing women, and although my association with them has been short in matter of time I feel like they are all so adequately described and equally as amazing. Maybe I was just born to be part of this Sorensen family! I think so.
    Love you blog and you amazing sisters! Cheers,