She ran church programs, taught Women of the Word Bible studies, housed foreign exchange students, shuttled us around to friends' houses and summer sports programs, held all the major celebrations at her house, allowed us to have sleepovers (which is huge in my mind), hosted kids from the African Children's Choir to stay with us, and planned themed birthday parties where she lead all the games and baked the cake herself. Even when attending meetings and bible studies her hands were busy with one project or another.
In the summer, she planned clay days and art days and museum days and theme-park days. We kids had no reason whatsoever to complain about being bored. But I know we did because I recall her answer. "If you're bored, I can give you something to do?" That something was usually jobs.
She orchestrated this huge boutique every year around the holidays where she not only sold her own artwork, but had us kids create and sell things too. In December and before we were old enough to help, she wrapped our trillion and one presents including some of the loot in our stockings. She helped us hand-make our valentines and hand-make school projects that we might've otherwise done the easy, less-creative way. I remember her pointing to the pre-made sticker letters at Michael's and telling us how silly it was for people to buy such things when they could just write the letters themselves. This from a calligraphist.
On family motorhome trips she had goodie bags with sweets and art supplies and games that we picked from every x-number of miles. She seemed to enjoy keeping us busy, which also kept us from fighting—a phenomena that she, as an only child, could never understand. At our campsites, she taught us painting or drawing or pysanky egg dyeing.
I remember her standing in the motorhome kitchen while we were practically off-roading, looking for a deserted place to stop for the night. My mom would look ahead through the front windshield trying to gage when to open the fridge to get out a cucumber without all the fridge contents falling out. A cucumber with lemon and seasoning salt for our snack was just the ticket to keep us calm for that one or ten more miles until we stopped.
Even with all our squabbling, I can't remember my mom ever shouting at us or being disappointed with us. I could tell when she thought our choices were haywire, but I can't recall anger. Her primary state of being seemed to be one of adoration and encouragement. What we did seemed wonderful to her. She loved to make us the star of the show, bragging about us in front of others. Although I found this horribly embarrassing, I never doubted that my mom was proud of me.
I remember standing beside my mother and hearing her voice singing the hymns at church. I remember seeing my mother do things up on the stage and being rather sheepishly proud of whatever she was doing up there. She seemed to spend so much of her life being proud of what we did and now it's my turn. I am proud of what she did and has done and will do. I'm proud of it not because it means she's a swell mom, but because it shows how swell of a mom she already is.