You tease me frequently for being a pain in your back from day 1. You endured an entire day of back labor (I’m still not exactly sure what that is, just thankful that I’ll never experience it) before delivering me. As legend has it, I was then rushed out of the room before you got a chance to hold me… pain without any immediate payoff. You’ve embodied the sacrificial nature of motherhood from before I could ever recall, and you have handled those hardships with joy and gratitude.
Our family moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Sandpoint, Idaho when I was five years old and Danette was almost one. At the time, I was oblivious to what a challenging transition this was and had no clue just how tight finances were. The fact that I was around you nearly 24/7 and yet did not know that times were hard is a testament to your fortitude. You were never one to draw attention to your own struggle and instead put the needs of us kids and of the family above your own comfort. Growing up with such security has reaped benefits in my life beyond what I am even aware of, and I now feel prepared to face life with the same calmness that you did.
As all good moms do, you were steadfast and constant in your care for me whenever I was sick. The chicken noodle soup, the administration of medicine, the provision of a warm blanket – you did it all. The best memory of all was, of course, when I was sick for an extended period of time during the Gonzaga Bulldog’s first deep run in the NCAA tournament in 1998 (to all you naysayers, I PROMISE that I was actually sick). You willingly turned the channel from Oprah and Regis and Kathy Lee so I could watch basketball all day, every day, for a week! It was amazing.
But more significant than that, for me, was the social comfort. Growing up with a cleft lip involved a number of occasions when kids at school, people on the phone, or peers at church were jerks. I had every reason to believe the things they said about how funny I sounded or how goofy I looked, but you were ever ready to build me up and remind me that my identity was not in the sound of my voice or in the straightness of my nose. You helped me to never play the victim. You built me up and taught me social and emotional strength.
Art projects. Soccer. Awana. Basketball. Piano and drum lessons. School. You were there for all of them. You cheered me on. You supported me. You challenged me.
There was a piano recital at an old folks’ home, but my nervousness was as though I was performing solo at Madison Square Garden. I worked so hard for those two simple songs. But when the recital came, I messed up. I started over courageously, and messed up again. I tried a few more times before fleeing the stage in tears. To my memory, there was not a single redeemable thing about my performance that night, but you found the words to encourage and console me.
The Grace Giver
As a youngster, I was delighted whenever I had the opportunity to terrorize my little sister. The discipline you gave for these sorts of infractions were consistent, firm, and never (to my knowledge) done in anger. But as I grew something else emerged. The structure and the expectations were as clear as ever, but I started noticing the occasional demonstration of grace.
As I neared the end of high school I got into a really unhealthy dating relationship. I was selfish, immature, and had a disregard for everyone in the situation other than myself. I deserved the harshest punishments you and dad could dole out. But instead you just checked in on me when I came home past curfew, you reminded me that you were praying for me, and (of course) you were there when the whole thing mercifully came crashing down around me.
The Joyful Servant
Church was always an exciting, fun, enjoyable part of our lives. It was only MUCH later when I realized that there are people who claim to be Christians who don’t go to church. I thought every believer had music practice in their homes, went on mission trips, welcomed visitors, and helped in the nursery! Only in very recent years have I discovered what a gift you gave me, demonstrating from beyond the span of my memory what it looks like to dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to a gospel congregation.
It is difficult to describe that year (or so?) when you suffered from anxiety and depression – the emergency room visits, the lack of clarity or diagnosis, the well-meaning but ignorant Christians offering every sort of unhelpful advice, the way that all of our lives rolled to a tense and uneasy halt. I couldn’t process it then. I still can’t. To see the woman of all the strength, dignity, and faithfulness struggle in the way you did was something that fundamentally altered my understanding of human frailty and changed how I see life in its most foundational sense. We’re all so much more fragile than we can even imagine, and seeing your strength falter pushed me to cling more tightly than ever to the grace of Christ.
Our relationship has changed an awful lot over the years. You don’t need to change my diapers (very often) any more, you no longer buy my clothes, you’re not responsible for making my dinner. We made it through those rough couple of years where I was figuring out what it meant to be an adult son and you were figuring out what it meant to be the mother of an adult, and now we’re in a pretty awesome place.
I love playing tennis with you. I love hearing your advice on church stuff. I love when you and dad come serve at Three Lakes. I love going boating with you. I love laughing at Donald Trump memes with you. I love making fun of your addiction to the nightly news. I love your passion about saving the lives of unborn children and serving their mothers. I love tag teaming with you and teasing dad for his bad theology. And we’re Maucks, so we typically try to avoid saying this directly – but it’s Mother’s Day, so – I love you.