I hesitated before asking him.
He was only home for a week after all. Just a single week over the Christmas holidays. Only one week gathered together as a family.
The rest of the year our 20-year-old son lives, works, and goes to school a few thousand miles across the country from us. Not that we don’t keep in close touch—because we do. But still . . . it’s not the same as sitting on the same couch together and everyone all talking at once.
And so it wasn’t until the end of the week that I ventured to ask him. Somewhat hesitant.
Makes a mom feel rather vulnerable to ask her oldest son such a question.
You see, this was our first-born. Our experiment. The one with whom I’d messed up and made the most mistakes.
So I honestly didn’t know what he’d say now that he’s all grown up and gone.
What really matters and what makes a difference? What would you say to a mom? . . . to me?
He said he’d think about it and get back to me. I opened up his email a couple of weeks ago and here’s what he said:
9 Things I’d Say My Mom Got Right
The following is what I remember – what I loved and what I needed.
1. My mom was the one who listened to my hopes and dreams – my heart.
In my life Dad played the role of pushing me to succeed, but my mom was the one who let me just talk. She listened to me share the contents of my small undeveloped mind and heart.
2. She allowed me to love her.
As I got a bit older my mom was the only woman I ever really hugged. Sure, I hugged my sisters here and there, but generally my mom was the only one who I would go up to and randomly hug. She did not pull away or make a face—in fact she loved it (or at least I think she did).
3. She encouraged me to play for hours.
Literally countless hours. Hundreds and hundreds of hours. I played – key word here – OUTSIDE all the time growing up. Yes, I had homework and chores, but outside was where I spent my extra time. Those moments are some of the happiest of my life. I have heard, “Go play outside,” about a billion times and 99.99% of them came from my mother.
4. She gave me the chance to read.
On top of chores, schoolwork, and playing outside, I also spent endless hours reading. I was a relatively late bloomer when it came to reading, but once I started, I read A LOT. My mom often let me off the hook from other tasks 😉 when she knew I was reading.
5. She took the time so I could play with friends.
I still remember when mom would take us to the pool. I remember how she fit in times to hang out with other families. She was willing to drive and move schedules so I could be with kids my age and further stimulate that little brain of mine.
6. She let us build forts in the house.
And sleep in them. I have built a number of forts in the Jacobson house (along with my ever-willing sisters). Together we built huge blanket forts, pillow forts, cardboard forts—I think we even set up an entire tent in the house once. We read, ate, listened to stories and slept there. It was awesome.
7. She didn’t let me fill my mind with garbage movies or technological entertainment.
This wasn’t something that I appreciated then, but looking back I certainly do now. Like every kid I wanted to play games or watch movies, but for every time I got to do something in that category there were plenty of hours spent outside or reading. I am certainly much better for it and if you need professional proof – consult any study on the matter.
8. She never allowed me to disrespect her.
This fits more into the “what I needed” category. My mom never let me hit her or really be anything but loving and gentle with her. That does not mean she had a bad attitude about how rough or just generally boyish I could be—just as long as I treated her respectfully.
9. She sacrificed for me and loved me with her actions.
I am telling you, there is nothing like a mother’s soft hand on a young boy’s neck and back. I vividly remember one time when I was sick and miserable, burning with fever. I went to the couch and lay down, quite miserable and now lonely. However, only a minute or two later my mom was by my side with a cold wet rag touching my neck and face. A small gesture that still stays with me.
She sacrificed for me time and time again, caring for me with her actions and doing it in a loving manner.
So If You’re A Mom….
Those small acts of sacrifice? Those moments of standing strong? Those prayers cried out on your child’s behalf?
Now we know.
They really do matter and they do add up.
~ Lisa Jacobson
P.S. If you’re wondering if I cried the first time I read this? Why, yes, I did. Sobbed, actually.