It was 2 am and I was sound asleep, wrapped tightly in my Care Bear comforter. My mother was gently jostling me awake. “Come on sweetie, get up. I’ve got a surprise for you”.
I wiped the sleep from my eyes and followed her, not sure where we were going or why. Laid out on our multi-toned mustard yellow shag carpet was the most perfect picnic I could imagine – Happy Pop and a box of Old Dutch salt & vinegar chips. I could scarcely believe my eyes. Pop was a special treat and so were chips; to get them both at the same time felt like Christmas!
And there we sat, whispering and devouring the salacious snacks. Just the two of us, under the cover of night, and on the floor in the living-room. It felt like the most perfect moment of all time to my seven year old self. My thirty seven year old self appreciates it even more.
I was the eldest of 4 children, and one-on-one time was hard to come by. My parents were building a farm, money was tight and with six of us living in a trailer, personal space and quiet time were basically non existent. My mother was the ultimate helper to my father; making sure the home fires were burning while he was working tirelessly building his dream. She made do with very little and yet somehow never made us feel like we were wanting for anything. She had a way of making moments count.
She had a way of turning 4 McDonald’s cheeseburgers, 1 large fries and a pop to share into “dinner out”. She had a way of turning mundane tasks like cleaning the house, into a game where we all fought to pick the next room we cleaned out of a hat. She took us for wagon rides to pick vegetables out of the garden for dinner, she bribed us with packs of hockey cards and rides in the front loader of the tractor to pick rocks in the fields.
She made our simple life rich. We had no money, but we had wealth. When there wasn’t enough hours in the day to get to all four children, she woke up at 2 am.
As a mother of three, I find myself looking back in awe of what she created, often out of nothing. My mother viewed parenthood as an opportunity to make memories. It was and is the fabric of her being.
Circumstances are now different. The little farm is now a big farm and has gone on to be quite successful. The four of us children have grown up and moved out, but her desire to make moments count has not changed. She realizes that her available moments with us are less now as we all have families of our own. But she is not deterred. Just like she got creative and found time in the middle of the night so many years ago, she gets creative now. One day she called me out of the blue to inform me that Pantone had released the color of the year and it was burgundy. Cool mom. Thanks. Then she let me know I had 24 hours and $150 to go buy myself something I loved in burgundy. Cool mom THANKS!!!
Recently she whisked my eleven year old daughter off to Victoria for a weekend of baby cousin snuggles, and facials at the fanciest spa. My mom is likely to create a moment you will not forget, at least five times a year. Age, money and circumstances only change the how, not the what. She is a master at making moments count, and weaving a lifetime of memories, one moment at a time.
The memories she made with us as children have been the catalyst in my own memory making with my children. I have built block towers, constructed forts, played pirates, learned how to make fancy cut out cookies. I’ve fished for slugs in a pond, I’ve skated on closed outdoor rinks with no lights and horrible ice because when your son wants to spend time with you when he’s 13 you say yes to anything.
I’ve eaten pizza in my mini van and listened to music too loud with my eldest son, I’ve taken my daughter out of school to Pizza Hut for all you can eat buffet lunch as a surprise, I’ve crawled through playroom tunnels with my littlest one. And while I haven’t always enjoyed the making of each of these memories, the memories, not the inconvenience, is what warms my heart. And it is how my children will remember their childhood.
My mother gave me so much more than a midnight pop and chip party. She gave me a sense of adventure. She taught me to color outside the lines. She taught me that a moment in time can fuel a lifetime. And most importantly, she gave me a legacy to continue with my own children, and the privilege to continue experiencing it with her as an adult child.