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My mother’s birthday was Sunday. It was interesting, then, when the sermon, “It is Fitting” veered into talk about what is fitting for mothers and women of age in the church. It wasn’t surprising to me that my mother was a fit mother; it is surprising to me how many of the women who bear children, both then and now, are NOT fit to rear them.

When I think about a real mother, I think about my mom. My mother always had on clothes that weren’t revealing. Even when she had her hair done and some makeup on, she always looked like someone’s mother. Even though she was in her early twenties when I was born, and still quite young in my earliest memories, I don’t remember her ever dressing like women my age who have children (even though some of my friends mothers did).

My mother cooked 90% or more of our meals. We always had some sort of vegetable, a starch, and a meat with dinner. I wasn’t allowed to drink soda or Kool-Aid whenever I wanted. I wasn’t allowed to eat at too many other people’s houses. We sat at the table, said grace and ate. It didn’t matter what was on TV; we were at the table. The table we sat at had placemats with the alphabet and numbers on them; later, it became Presidents or the United States.

I didn’t get to spend the night at just anyone’s house. A lot of my friends spent the night with me, but I never even saw the inside of their homes. My mother was very selective of who I hung out with and where I went. She wanted to meet my friends parents. No amount of pleading would change her mind if she didn’t think someone was appropriate. “I’m never going to have any friends,” I would whine. “You don’t need any friends; I’m your friend. Now go wash your hands so we can eat.”

There was no parade of men in and out of my home. My mother was home when we went to bed unless she was at work. We had a set list of eligible babysitters. When I was little, my mother walked me to the bus station and waited with us until the bus got there.  There was no reason for me to feel like anybody else came before me and my brother.

My mother was/is a no nonsense, hardworking person who takes her responsibilities seriously. I don’t remember her having a bunch of new clothes or shoes, but I did. My little brother did as well. I remember her straightening my hair instead of getting relaxers put in it. There were only select people ever allowed to do my hair. I didn’t go to a salon until I was a freshman in college; my mother did my hair for every occasion.

There were a lot of times when I felt like my mother “had her foot on my neck.” “I never get to do anything!” was a favorite lament of mine. Yet, I really didn’t need to do the things I wanted, and someone needed to tell me no. Despite what my mother would say, she wasn’t my friend; she was my mother. That’s what she was supposed to be, what a lot of women with children today don’t understand. It’s not about you and what you want, nor is it about being your child’s best friend. It’s about taking care of them and teaching them how to be adults.

Now, my relationship with my mother is more like a friendship, but she’s still Mom. You don’t talk to her any kind of way you feel like. There’s still a level of respect and gratitude that doesn’t allow her to ever be anything as casual as a friend. But I can talk to her about anything. I can expect her to be honest with me. I can even expect her to disagree. I know, whatever she says, it’s what she thinks is best for me.

I wouldn’t be able to be the well adjusted woman I am without having a mother I could look up to that exemplified the qualities of a real woman and taught me how to acquire those qualities. I look around me and see all the things that make me different from most women I know, and I can say it’s largely her influence. I have been to college. I know how to cook and keep a house. I don’t feel the need to expose my body in outrageous outfits to get male attention. I keep myself clean and neat. I am a stickler for being on time. I have no problem going to work. If I get married, great; if not, I can continue taking care of myself by myself. In other words, I have a great mother.

Happy birthday, Mom! I pray that you are blessed with many more!

What has your mom taught you about becoming a woman? What are the characteristics of a good mother? How are you teaching your daughters to be good women?

Note: I am not reading any blogs, facebook posts, or tweets as part of my first stop/start. Please comment in the comments section or email me at 2blu2btru4u@gmail.com.