Read an Excerpt
Chicken Soup for the Soul To Mom, with Love
By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen
Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC
All rights reserved.
I lie stretched out upon the window-seat
And doze, and read a page or two, and doze,
And feel the air like water on me close,
Great waves of sunny air that lip and beat
With a small noise, monotonous and sweet,
Against the window—and the scent of cool,
Frail flowers by some brown and dew-drenched pool
Possesses me from drowsy head to feet.
This is the time of all-sufficing laughter
At idiotic things some one has done,
And there is neither past nor vague hereafter.
And all your body stretches in the sun
And drinks the light in like a liquid thing;
Filled with the divine languor of late spring.
—Stephen Vincent Benét
Motherhood: A Transformation
Once upon a time I was a nurse, a writer and a wife. Then one day, I had a child. I became a mother. Added to the list of things I previously was, I became a chauffeur, a cook, a dresser, a wiper of dirty faces, a cleaner of soiled diapers, a retriever of thrown socks, a finder of lost shoes, a doer of homework, an insomniac. I was a referee in toy wars, a slayer of nighttime dragons, a soother of nervous school jitters. I was a room mother, a den mother, a leader of Girl Scouts and one day, mother of the bride. I calmed tantrums and bolstered fragile egos.
With each passing day my talents grew: I became a baker of cookies, a sewer of Halloween costumes extraordinaire. I could braid hair in the time most people wash their faces. And I could smile even when I didn't want to.
Where once my body had been my own to do with as I pleased, it now belonged to someone else. It became a breast to nourish at, a shoulder to cry on, a lap to sit and cuddle upon. My lips became the kissers of boo-boos, my hips the transporters of small, squirmy bundles. My feet were now used to walk the floor at all hours of the night, my arms became a cradle. I grew eyes in the back of my head, and my hearing became supersonic.
Once upon a time my name was Peggy. Then I became a mother and had as many aliases as a con man. I became—at various times—Mm, Mama, Ma, Mommie, Mom, Mother, MOTHER! And for a brief period of mental vexation, "Peg."
My mind, which used to flourish with egocentric thoughts, now became filled with irrational ideations: What if she falls out of the crib? What if he chokes on his food? What if I do or say the wrong thing? How will I know I'm a good parent? How will I know I'm a bad one?
My house, once so orderly and tidy, became a disorderly jumble of toys and stuffed animals, dried peas and empty, strewn formula bottles; a carpet of clutter and chaos; a dwelling of disarray.
My heart, once only given to another, was now taken from me and filled to the brim, bursting with devotion and love.
I was a Mother. I was an icon. I'd done something no man had ever done, accomplished a feat so death defying and magical that many wouldn't even attempt it. I became a Mother. And in so doing, I became all that I was, all that I ever wished to be.
Peggy Jaeger (Chicken Soup for Every Mom's Soul)
The Origins of Mother's Day
The earliest version of Mother's Day was in ancient Greece where, in the springtime, people celebrated the goddess, Rhea, who was the mother of all gods. At dawn they would offer her honey cakes, fine drinks and flowers.
Greek Honey Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon orange zest
¾ cup butter
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup white sugar
1 cup honey
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange rind. Set aside.
In another large bowl, cream together the butter and cup sugar until light and fluffy.
One at a time, beat in the eggs and add the orange zest.
Mix in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, just until incorporated.
Stir in the walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and cut the cake into diamond shapes.
In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup of sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, constantly stirring. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.
Pour honey syrup over the cake.
The Baby Book
When I was a little girl, I loved looking through my baby book. I would sit nestled on my mother's lap, while she carefully turned the pages for me. She read my name out loud. She read her name, my father's name, my grandparents' names. She read the date and time of my birth. She let me look inside the little envelope with a lock of my baby hair in it.
My favorite part of the book was at the very end. It was three pages of photographs, and I was in every single one. The photos were slipping behind the clear plastic that refused to hold them in place and the plastic on one page was torn. This did not bother me in the least. I loved to look at the pictures of my mother holding the newborn me. When one photo slid behind another, my mother would pull it out, and I laughed in excitement as the hidden treasure was revealed.
Now I am a mother with a daughter of my own. As I put together a baby book for my daughter, I keep looking back into my own book. However, my baby book no longer looks the same. When I look at the photo of my mother bathing me, I notice that she looks tired—as I feel now. When I look carefully into the background of the photos, I see that my mother's kitchen had cluttered counters— like my kitchen has now. I see photos of my smiling, happy face in a bathtub, oblivious to the clutter and my mother's fatigue—just as my baby smiles now.
And I notice one other change in the book. There was always a section of pages in the middle of the book that were never written in. These are the blank pages that I hear my new mother friends complain about. I hear mothers guiltily complain that they have not filled in all of the pages of the baby book yet. I hear mothers criticizing themselves, saying that it will be depressing if their child sees blank pages in her baby book. But as I look back in my baby book, I see that all of the blank pages have suddenly disappeared. Where the blank pages once lay, I now see my mother cooking me warm, nourishing meals and giving me hot baths. I see my mother reading me books and taking me sledding in the front yard. I see my mother tucking me into bed and bandaging my skinned knee. I see pages full of love.
Julie Bete (Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul)
Lessons on Napkins
My mother was an excellent student and wanted to be a special education teacher. But her dreams of becoming a teacher were interrupted by an unexpected child: her own. My mother became pregnant with me during her junior year of college and left school to marry my father. Yet even though my mother left the field of education formally, she did not leave it entirely.
When I finally entered a school classroom at age five, I was excited but terrified. That first day of kindergarten, I quietly sat at my desk during snack time and opened my Miss Piggy lunch box. Inside the lunch box I found a note from my mother written on a napkin. The note said that she loved me, that she was proud of me and that I was the best kindergartner in the world! Because of that napkin note I made it through my first day of kindergarten ... and many more school days to follow.
There have been many napkin notes since the first one. There were napkin notes in elementary school when I was struggling with math, telling me to "Hang in there, kiddo! You can do it! Don't forget what a great writer you are!" There were napkin notes in junior high school when I was the "new girl" with frizzy hair and pimples, telling me to "Be friendly. Don't be scared. Anyone would be lucky to have you as her friend!" In high school, when my basketball team was the first team in our school's history to play in a state championship, there were napkin notes telling me, "There is no 'I' in team. You have gotten this far because you know how to share." And there were even napkin notes sent to me in college and graduate school, far away from my mother's physical touch. Despite the tumultuous changes of college—changing majors, changing boyfriends, changing the way I looked at the world—my one constant was my mother's encouragement, support and teachings, echoed in years of love, commitment and napkin notes.
For Christmas this year, my mother received a book bag, a daily planner, notebooks and a full-tuition college scholarship. These gifts reflected an impending change in her life. After a twenty-five-year hiatus, my forty-four-year-old mother was finally going back to school to earn her degree in teaching. And although I was immensely proud of my mother for following her dreams, I wanted her to know that she didn't need a degree to make her a stellar teacher.
So I also gave her a Christmas gift for school: a lunch bag filled with her favorite foods. She laughed as she opened the lunch bag and took out cans of tuna fish and V-8. Then she pulled out a napkin with writing on it.
As she opened up her "You can do it!" napkin note from me, tears began running down her face. When her eyes met mine, I saw she understood my unspoken message: My mother is— and has always been—a teacher.
Caurie Anne Miner (Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul 2)
Ways to Make Your Kids' School Lunches Fun
? Use large cookie cutters to cut their sandwich into a fun shape!
? Instead of regular bread, use a soft tortilla shell, pita bread, a bagel or leftover pancakes!
? Slice cheese, lunchmeat or pepperoni into little squares and place between crackers. You can also put peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and banana slices on crackers!
? Cut cooked hot dogs into little pieces and send with ketchup packs for dipping.
? Pack tortilla chips and a small container of salsa for nachos on the go!
? Leftover pizza ... kids love it cold!
? Pack carrot and celery sticks with a small container of ranch dressing for dipping.
? Make kabobs out of pieces of fruit, vegetables and cheese.
Mother's Lessons Can Last a Lifetime
I have learned many things from my mother. I learned where to go for comfort and sustenance as first I suckled at her breast, later climbed into her lap and now sit across the table from her with a cup of coffee.
I learned not to run into the road, not to touch the stove, not to run with scissors in my hand, never to use a BB gun lest I put my eye out, and that young ladies don't make impolite noises in public.
I learned that "please" and "thank you" are the most important words in the language, to respect my elders, to look a person in the eye when I speak, to sit with my knees together and keep my skirt down, and that a body must be bathed on Saturday night whether it needs it or not.
I learned to fry chicken, bake a cake, make sun tea, flip pancakes, can vegetables and wash dishes—by hand. I learned that "casserole" and "crock pot" are the most important words in kitchen language if you have hopes of pursuing any interests in life away from the stove.
Growing up on a farm, I also learned how to reach under the hens to gather eggs, how to avoid the rooster and the goose, how to pull ticks out of dogs, where to find a nest of baby bunnies in the spring, how to call to the bobwhite down by the creek, and to stay away from sows and their litters.
From my mother I also learned to look for the subtle colors of the flowers in her garden, to listen to the mockingbird's song in the morning, to enjoy the fragrance of the lilac, to spot the rainbow-rimmed moon and to play with the ladybug.
I learned, at her suggestion, that when I wasn't able to tell her the things that troubled me, I could write them to her, pouring out my heart on the sheets of a Big Chief writing tablet.
I learned that even though I sometimes hated her in adolescent rage, she always loved me. I learned that she didn't always have the right answer, but she always had the right intention. I learned that even though the crop didn't do well or the hay barn burned down or the cows got into the neighbor's corn field, you take care of things and go on.
My mother is sixty-seven now. She recently was diagnosed with cancer, underwent surgery and is receiving chemotherapy treatments.
And this is what I'm still learning from her: You can't always choose what experiences you'll face in life, but you can choose how you'll face them. That faith is stronger than fear, that the love of family and friends is powerful, that each day is a gift and that the fortunate daughter never stops learning from her mother.
Vicki Marsh Kabat (Chicken Soup for Every Mom's Soul)
I stumbled with exhaustion, searching for the ringing telephone. Colicky three-month-old Max slept only two hours at a time, and my husband was away traveling again. My fatigued body ached. I found the phone under a receiving blanket and answered it.
My mother asked, "Is Max sleeping any better?"
"You're not getting any sleep, are you?" She sounded worried.
My gritty eyes burned. "Not much."
"That must be so hard."
My throat closed. "Oh Mom, I'm exhausted! I can hardly think."
"I'm coming up."
Outside my window a December blizzard moaned through the darkness. My mother would have to navigate icy canyon roads to reach my house. I said, "It's snowing hard here. Don't come. I'll be okay."
"I'm on my way." She hung up. Tears of exhaustion and relief blurred my vision. My mother has always been my rock.
The usual thirty-minute drive took her an hour. My mother arrived looking rosy-cheeked from the cold, snow frosting her reddish-brown hair. She took baby Max from my arms and ordered me to bed. I said, "But Max needs to eat in the night."
She shook her head. "I know how to warm up formula. Go to bed!" Her determined look told me not to argue.
My soft pillow beckoned to me, along with my cozy down comforter. I headed upstairs feeling relieved, but lying in bed I couldn't sleep. Guilt overwhelmed me. I should be able to take care of my baby. At least I could have offered to help. My mother wouldn't have let me, I realized. I heard her coo to Max as she climbed the stairs. Soon the rocking chair in baby Max's room creaked, back and forth, back and forth.
Suddenly I remembered my mother rocking me when I had the chicken pox. I was too big for rocking, but blisters invaded my throat, my ears, even the back of my eyelids. As we rocked my mother sang, "Rock-a-bye my big-big girl." The monotonous chant comforted me. I slept. When I woke in the night my mother offered sips of water and laid cold washrags across my burning forehead. I slept fitfully, but in the morning the blisters had crusted, and I felt better.
Now I could hear my mother chanting to Max, "Rock-a-bye my baby boy." Her monotone relaxed me, just as it had when I was a child. I slid toward sleep, knowing my baby was in capable hands. In the morning, I'd hug my mother, thank her, and tell her how her love had rocked both Max and me to sleep.
Kendeyl Johansen (Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul)
Don't cross your eyes or they'll stick that way.
Just wait 'til your father gets home!
Anything worth doing is worth doing right.
When you have kids of your own, I hope they turn out just like you!
Because I said so, that's why.
Keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about!
I brought you into this world and I can take you out!
Good things come to those who wait.
Call me when you get there, just so I know you're okay.
I will always love you—no matter what.
Eat your vegetables, they're good for you.
Don't stay up too late!
Don't use that tone with me!
Forever, for Always and No Matter What!
Our daughter Ariana moved from baby to todd see me." She'd crawl into my lap, we'd cuddle, and I'd say, "Are you my girl?" Between tears she'd nod her head yes. Then I'd say, "My sweetie, beetie Ariana girl?" She'd nod her head, this time with a smile. And I'd end with, "And I love you forever, for always and nomatter what!" With a giggle and a hug, she was off and ready for her next challenge.
Ariana is now four-and-a-half. We've continued "come see me" time for scraped knees and bruised feelings, for "good mornings" and "good nights."
A few weeks ago, I had "one of those days." I was tired, cranky and overextended taking care of a four-year-old, twin teenage boys and a home business. Each phone call or knock at the door brought another full day's worth of work that needed to be done immediately! I reached my breaking point in the afternoon and went into my room for a good cry. Ariana soon came to my side and said, "Come see me." She curled up beside me, put her sweet little hands on my damp cheeks and said, "Are you my mommy?" Between my tears I nodded my head yes. "My sweetie, beetie mommy?" I nodded my head and smiled. "And I love you forever, for always and no matter what!" A giggle, a big hug, and I was off and ready for my next challenge.
Jeanette Lisefski (Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul)
Take a nice long walk.
Watch a funny movie or TV show.
Take a hot bubble bath surrounded with scented candles.
Soak your feet.
Listen to your favorite CD.
Arrange a pretty bouquet of flowers.
The Mirror Has Three Faces
I am fifty-one years old. My mother was fifty-one when she died. I remember that last day of her life only too clearly. It was a rainy Monday, and my mother could not breathe.
"It's fluid," the doctor said. "We'll tap her lungs." They sat my mother up in the hospital bed and plunged the long needle through her back into her lungs. Again and again they tried, but no fluid came. And no relief.
"It's not fluid," the doctor said. "It's all tumor. We can't help her breathe."
Excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Soul To Mom, with Love by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen. Copyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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