What mama did: the simple pleasures

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to post this expanded essay taken from a five-minute piece based on Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday prompt “What Mama Did”. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, whether you mother little people, big people, or anyone in between.

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It didn’t take much to please her. She only wanted for a little quiet, a corner of the sofa where she sat in a soft satin robe, bathed in the glow of the brass lamp to her right. She kept the lights dim in the evening, and she sat in her corner with her feet curled up next to her and read the Bible. Sometimes, when her sweet tooth got the best of her, she put a child’s size portion of chocolate chips in a little plastic cup and ate them one by one. I think she let them melt in her mouth.

Most evenings, I sat a few feet away on the floor watching television. She never asked me to change the channel, or turn the volume down. She simply sat, still warm from her bath, reading the Good News. On Sundays, when Dad left for church early, and Mom managed to wrangle three kids into the car, fed and always presentable, she whipped out a bottle of nail polish at every red light. She turned to one of us and said, Tell me when it turns green, and she painted a nail or two in rapid succession before someone could shout Green, go Mom! She never once considered a professional manicure, preferring the red light method to all others.

At church, when worship dragged long and I found myself wishing I’d eaten more for breakfast, I rummaged through her purse. Nothing in the bag was off-limits with my mother. She always had a pack of gum, which she tried to convince us would stave off hunger pains at least until Sunday School. Occasionally, I would find a box of half-eaten Junior Mints, the joy of which could only be rivaled by the Second Coming. Mom never begrudged me a few.

She kept an incredibly clean house, and she never could abide clutter. Dad would occasionally buck the system and attempt to create a pile of scribbled notes and half-read books, which would surreptitiously disappear within a matter of days. I’m not sure these items were ever recovered. Try as she might to erase all tell-tale signs of the un-tidy, Mom left a small trail of herself behind. The hidden box of Junior Mints, the nail polish stored on the refrigerator shelf, the steaming cup of hot tea, the overplayed tape cassette of Maranatha music in the cassette player, and the Bible set next to the sofa on the wire magazine rack. She isn’t a woman of extremes, but one of simple pleasures.

When I feel over saturated with all this world has to offer, with the Pinterest pins and the fancy lunches and the world travel, I think of my mom. Of her feet curled beneath her, content to sit in a room with her kid and her God–every single night. She taught me how to find beauty in the steadfast, in the predictable, in the seemingly simple. And while I like to embrace the big, the new, and the crazy, I always come back to this–If you look closely, joy can be found in a little box of minty chocolates, a warm mug, hastily painted nails, and few pages of the Good Book.

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  • Kimberly Amici

    I love the picture you have painted of your mom. How lucky you are to have lived with a women content with simple pleasures.

  • Kathleen Botsford

    this is so very lovely….all a mother ever really wants is to be present to her children. Your mother succeeded and you are her legacy