This post is part of a series I'm calling The Mother's Project, where I will be highlighting the incredible moms in my life throughout the month of May. Check back later this week for more posts!
Blogging rules tell you not to post on Sundays because people don't read it. I don't care if this is against the rules or if you don't read it until tomorrow, because today is Mother's Day and I have a mother that needs to be recognized.
Patsy is one-of-a-kind. The definition of extreme, in case you're wondering:
1. of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average
2. utmost or exceedingly great in degree
3. farthest from the center or middle; outermost; endmost
4. farthest, utmost, or very far in any direction
5. exceeding the bounds of moderation
6. going to the utmost or very great lengths in action, habit, opinion,etc.
I could have just given you the 5th definition: exceeding the bounds of moderation. Patsy knows no moderation. It's either a half gallon of Turkey Hill Peanut Butter Ripple or a spinach smoothie. It's extreme happiness or tears. It's no kids or five. It's either a 5 am run or a cookie for breakfast. Let me explain...
When I was younger, I used to think that people only liked me because they like to come over and hang out with my mom. In high school, I thought boys only dated me because they assumed I would look as good as she did when I got older. (I was mostly right.)
Now I think people only like me because of the things my mom taught me. She will always do something unexpectedly nice. Always. She will bring you your favorite food/drink/clothing item without you even remembering you ever told her about it. I watched the way she made people feel. Sometimes, she would leave them speechless with her generosity and kindness. This is a trait I always admired in her, and before I knew it, I adopted it.
For instance, when people tell me they like Oreos, I will not only think of it the next time I'm going to see them, but I will feel guilty unless I bring them some Oreos.
Did they ask? Certainly not.
Did they expect it? Not even a little.
But do I feel that it is my duty on this earth to do those kinds of things for people? Absolutely.
Don't be impressed by this. I'm not bragging on myself; I'm bragging on my mom. When you watch someone do something like this every day of your childhood, it becomes second nature. I know the only reason that I've acquired any kindness inside of me is because of the woman that my mother naturally is. She didn't have to learn that trait from someone. It's just there.
(Please don't feel guilty or indebted to me the next time I do this to you. Also please don't be afraid to mention things that you like around me. It is my bizarre cross to bear and one that I secretly really enjoy.)
Patsy is a woman of grand gestures. And not just because she gives people Oreos and coffee. She is extreme. Some examples:
- I have more than 20 scrapbooks full of photos of my life. They aren't simple ones either. They are Creative Memories books, with each page lovingly created. They are truly works of art. Also? I'm one of five children. We EACH have that many books.
- I was engaged for 14 weeks before I got married. My wedding was in Pennsylvania, but I coordinated the whole thing from Colorado. I use the word "coordinated" instead of "planned" because let's be honest, Patsy did the leg work. I had a Pinterest board with probably 50 things on it that I invited my mom to see. By the time I flew home three weeks after being engaged, half of the projects were already done, including the curation of 200 vintage place settings.
- The fall of 1999, my oldest sister in college and my youngest in elementary school, all five of us played sports. My mom had a minimum of eight sporting events each week. That's more than one a day if you can't math, like me. One week she had 14! I remember her sitting at her calendar that Sunday evening, looking up directions to each field and exclaiming at the end, "I think I can make this work!" And she got to all 14 games.
- My parents once decided it would be a great idea to take their five kids on a giant coach bus full of Mennonites (that's a whole different blog post) from Lancaster, PA to Sarasota, FL. The trip took 26 hours. My little sister was only six months old and I was very young. Being the little diva that I was, I woke my mom up in the middle of the night crying and the only way she could get me to sleep was on her chest ... while she laid in the aisle. She calls that the night from hell.
- One year, when all five of us attended a small K-12 school, my mom made enough cookies for every single teacher and student. For the past four years, every person that has bought a home from my father's business has received a plate of her cookies and a handwritten note from my parents. While on that topic...
- My mom's cookies are somewhat famous in central Pennsylvania. Because they're incredible. I'm not afraid to say they are the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. I did some quick math for this post. She started making these cookies in approximately 1982. We figure she has averaged at least one double batch a week since then. That means she has made 9,438 dozen cookies in the last 33 years. That's 113,256 cookies! If that's not extreme, I don't know what is.
The most extreme thing of all is that everyone she knows has a story like this about her. About a time she surprised them with a huge blessing that they never saw coming. I guarantee I don't even know half of them because she doesn't talk about them. She doesn't go around telling everyone: "Oh, I took six different families a meal last week," or "Oh yeah, I just helped my friend's daughter plan her entire wedding," or "I took everyone at dad's office coffee and doughnuts because I was practically passing a bakery on the way."
It's her gut reaction. She does these things as easily as she breathes. Her generosity is magnetic and contagious and you can see the people around her start to pick it up.
I feel as though I've spent a lot of time talking about one dimension of my mom, but please know that I could write so much more about her. If I could have your attention for just a few more sentences:
She has the best laugh in the entire world and uses it freely.
She beat every boyfriend I ever had at racquetball and still beats my husband (sorry T, it's just truth).
She cries at Hallmark commercials, most movies, and sometimes just when she sees something cute.
She would do anything for her children. Anything. (Except maybe kill snakes.)
She loves deeper and wider and harder and fiercer than anyone I've ever met.
She has spent her entire life caring for people, nurturing everyone she meets and making it her personal responsibility to bring them happiness. In the last few months, her life has dramatically changed as she has taken on the role of caregiver for her mother, my Mimi. Though it is a natural role for her, it hasn't been easy. I have watched her accept it on a daily basis from many miles away and it is just a resounding confirmation of what we always knew about her. My mom doesn't live her life for herself. She lives it as if it's a gift for other people. And I am so, so lucky to be on the receiving end of that gift.
I'm not sure how me and the siblings will ever repay you for the example you've given us or the sheer number of favors you've done for us. I want you to know that we carry around gratefulness in our hearts for you each and every day.
Thank you for teaching us how to give audaciously and how to live an extreme, out-loud life for other people. Your legacy has already begun and I hope you can start acknowledging that and see pieces of it every single day.
Know that you.are.enough ... exactly how you are, right this minute. We wouldn't want you to change a thing about you. Bask in your accomplishments and be a little selfish this week. Lord knows you deserve it. We love you endlessly!
(and the siblings who helped out with the writing of this post)
These two photos are my favorite of my mother and I. The one on the left because I remember sitting in my mom's lap until I was way too old to be there. I was always the one asking to sit with her during church and sometimes, on hard days when I miss home, I really wish that I was this little and sitting in her lap. The one on the right instantly makes me smile. Every soccer game of my life (and there were HUNDREDS), I could count on this smiling face waiting for me on the sidelines. I could have played terribly and she would put a positive spin on it saying, "Great game Rachey! Your throw-ins were incredible." I wish every kid in the world had a Patsy. There would be so many more cookies and much less war.