This article is my submission to the blog challenge sponsored by Darlene Schacht, Author of The Mom Complex.
I Had a Mother Who Read to Me
The most loving gift my mother and father gave me was to rear me in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). That phrase sounds formal, but what it really means is that they taught me how much Jesus loved me and how to love him back.
The second-best thing in my childhood: my mother read to me--about Jesus, about fuzzy talking animals, sweet poetry and cherubic kids who looked nothing like me.
Now, I loved dolls when I was little, but I loved books just as much and often ended up with both dolls and books in my bed at night. Although it has been some 40 years since I’ve held my "storybooks" in my hands, I can still see some illustrations and remember some phrases. And even though my mother is now 82 years old, I can still hear her younger, soft, expressive voice lilt, “Good morning, Mr. Sun! Have you seen Tommy?”
There was one story in particular that I loved about three little children who built a snowman but forgot about him they went inside for the evening. The snowman, far out in the yard in the starry night, looked longingly into their picture window. The scene was all aglow with Christmas warmth, haloing the children decorating their tree. I could feel the snowman’s loneliness—I was out there with him! Never mind that he would have melted in that house; he missed them—he wanted to be included—he broke my heart! The only phrase I could remember from that book was, “Me too!” cried little Davey, “Me too!” As I rehearse that line in my memory now, I realize why the story and dialogue gripped me so: it was my mother’s total abandon into the story that aroused my compassion.
Middle age often makes you nostalgic for your childhood, and that’s a good thing when your mother is still on earth and is as mentally adept as ever. One day on the phone I asked Mother if she remembered this story, and she said she did indeed, although she couldn’t remember the title.
And then I had an idea: I would search the Internet for that nameless book, with only a sentence and a scene committed to memory.
Guess what. I found it.
And so I ordered The Snowman’s Christmas Present, by Irma Wilde. As soon as I saw the cover, my heart leapt. Then I read the words that evoked feeling smaller, feeling secure in my mother’s lap, and how she smelled when I was little:
“This is the story that the Snowman told to the Big Red Sun at sunset on Christmas Day.”
A far-away, deep wonder re-surfaced. My memory quickened. Joy arose, and my eyes filled with tears.
A week later, my book arrived, and I was able to open the book for Mother in my home. She seemed just as surprised by joy as I was. I was able to turn to the page where the snowman languished outside and share with her how that scene affected me. She was touched, I could tell. I was able, by the graciousness of God who allows her to be with me still, to thank her for reading many books to me over and over, and for the security of her arms and lap. It was one way that I could “rise up and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).
We mothers do many big and small things for our children. Sometimes we’re intentional about leaving lasting impressions and imparting lessons, and sometimes, in the most inauspicious ways, we touch their souls for a lifetime without realizing it.
I will always be thankful that I had a mother who read to me, and that is why I love this poem by Strickland Gillilan:
The Reading Mother
I had a Mother who read me things
That wholesome life to a child's heart brings –
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh that every Mother were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be.
I had a Mother who read to me.