To find out how I became the GrizzlyBearMa that I am, look no further than the lovely 78 year old woman that I just dropped off at the airport. My mom. Of course my father had something to do with it too, but as for my mothering, I have my mom to thank. Koda, Summer, Kitty, Dot and my four kids have all benefitted from her loving and nurturing ways that have rubbed off on me. She is the ultimate MamaBear, caring for her cubs. My claws and teeth may be a bit sharper than my kind mother, but her protection and comforting of us growing up was just as strong.
My mom had my oldest sister at the beginning of her twenties right at the start of her marriage to my dad. She stayed home full time, and had my next sister a year later. Then within a few more years they added two more daughters. Four girls in one house! I look at pictures of those early years and it seems like my mom had it all together. Many photos have us all in matching dresses with hair styled in buns or braids. That is a feat in itself! My mom always had time for us. I can remember talking to her about my school day while she watered the flower barrels on the brick patio. She listened, asked questions, and was present for me. Sure there were times that I had to wait until she got off of a long telephone call or was in the middle of sewing something and concentrating. But I hardly remember her ever being too busy with another sister to also give me time.
I have always thought of how beautiful my mother is. Her bright smile, lovely hands and classic style. My dark black curly hair (like Koda’s) comes from my dad. My sister got my moms sandy brown smooth hair and blue-gray eyes. There are women who do not have to do much to their faces with makeup other than a bit of blush and lipstick, my mom’s one of those. The time outdoors spent gardening, backpacking, swimming in the ocean, playing tennis, and running, did imprint upon her skin, but I’d like to think it’s more a collection of life’s experiences. My mom has always been a doer. She started teaching yoga in her forties, and continues to teach and take classes now. She does headstands and backbends at 78 years old!
My mother’s hands are important to me. I remember playing with her ring while we napped in the afternoons after kindergarten. She would say, “You must lie down, even if you do not fall asleep.” Then she would fall asleep next to me while I ran my small fingers over her unpolished rounded fingernails, along her callouses from gardening, and over the gold twisted wedding band. I can hold her hand now and recognize that familiar sensation. She has long fingers and plays the piano gracefully, taking lessons and performing in recitals. At Christmas time, my mom played the carols and we sang. She is also an exceptional artist, in watercolor painting and sketching.
GrizzlyBearMa.com would probably not exist if it were not for the strong love of books and language my mother provided us growing up. We made trips to the public library often. Our home shelves were well stocked with picture books that have found a permanent place in my heart: The Giving Tree, Blueberries for Sal, Ferdinand, The Plant Sitter, James and the Giant Peach, Tales of Peter Rabbit, The Teeny Tiny Woman, Jenny’s Hat, Big Sister Little Sister, A Holiday for Mister Muster, and of course, Are You My Mother? She read us silly poems and poetry that tickled us from the likes of Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, A.A. Milne, and Roald Dahl.
Our bedtime routine included more than a reading from one of those books, it was the song my mom sang that ended each day. “In my sweet little Alice Blue Gown…” she sang softly and dramatically from the doorway. “As I first wandered out into town, I was both proud and shy, as I met every eye. And in every shop window, I’d primp passing by. Then in matter of fashion I frowned,” big pause for a pronounced stern look on my mom’s face, “As the world seemed to smile all around,” arms in the air and smiling singing slowly and high pitched. “Then it wilted, I wore it, I’ll always adore it, my sweet little Alice blue gown.” Then for giggles she’d wiggle her bottom and finish with “boom boom.”
How lucky am I? She is an amazing mother and grandmother. I hope that I come close to being the loving wonderful mom that she is. I do not sing Alice Blue Gown to my kids or the puppies, but I do snuggle them, read to them, and try to listen to them and be present to each one. For the record my mother does not miss a day of reading my blog, and often responds right away. She encouraged my writing, and has even taken some writing classes herself. The biggest complement she gave me about my blog is that she felt like she knew Koda and Summer before ever meeting them. So when they met for the first time last Thursday is was as if they already new each other. The puppies loved GrammyBear right away!