Mother’s Day 2017
My mother was wild. Untamed. That sounds fun in theory, but as a kid, there were times I wished for a mother that was more predictable. I used to say, “I’d like June Cleaver for a mother, but got Charo instead.”
Some of us didn’t get the mothers we think we wanted, the mothers that fit in. We got the fierce mothers that we needed, the wild mothers, designed to empower who we are destined to become.
That was my mother, Thea Porembski. And I’m proud to be called her daughter.
My mother loved fiercely and playfully. She opened her arms to the marginalized, teaching Sunday School for persons with downs syndrome for more than 20 years. It was not unusual for her to bring her Sunday School students home with us after church. Starting as a pre-teen, she taught me to look beyond the surface into the heart of a person.
My mother owned a custom-made clown suit and wore it to delight her Special Kids at events like the Special Olympics. She owned a pink satin “Pink Ladies” jacket from the movie Grease and would wear it when she took my brother and me roller skating.
Mom was a high school drop out and later achieved her own GED certificate when I was in high school. She went back to school and became one of the top students in her class, graduating as a nursing assistant.
Mom loved God and gave me a wonderful church home and community to grow up in at Sheridan Hills Baptist Church. I’m going on a limb here, but our Baptist church was probably a more conservative crowd than she was inside.
There are many colorful stories about my mother at SHBC, (like the time she mistakenly released all the Living Nativity farm animals and had deacons in their suits and ties running around the church property corraling a braying donkey, multiple sheep, goats and a cow while congregants listened to Pastor Billingsly’s sermon). We still laugh about that one. There are many people I still love and am glad to be connected with from SHBC. She gave my brother and me the opportunity to learn and love God in supportive community for many years.
My mother wanted to travel, but as a single mom didn’t have the finances. So she made our everyday activities into adventures and taught us to explore cultures at local festivals.
I’ll never forget when Mom had a friend dress me in full buckskin Native American attire so I could dance with her in the Sacred Circle at a Mother’s Day Pow Wow camp-out. No Mother’s Day mani-pedi’s for us (though I love them and offered). The beating of the drums, the jingle of some of the dresses, my mother dressed in a traditional buckskin with her eagle feather fan, walking so dignified as we journeyed around the circle…It’s still one of my favorite memories.
This all sounds great, and I’m not going into choices or mother-daughter moments that were hard. We all have them. Honestly, in my twenties, I purposed to be different from my mother, less wild and more stable. I purposed to be more like my father, a newsman, a world adventurer in his own right.
And then I became a widowed mom. My mom passed away five months after my husband died, losing her battle with breast cancer. I was too numb, as a mother of a new three-month-old infant, Sophia, to fully process the grief of losing her.
As I forged into the days, months and years ahead, battling sadness, memories of my mother’s joy for living, reveling in playing with my brother and I, her love for God, her adventurous spirit and her curiosity to explore life and cultures with her kids, reminded me of who I could be for my own daughters. Her playfulness inspired the life that was possible for my little family.
Her joy gave me a hope. I often wish my mom could join the fun moments my girls and I now have together. In my heart, I feel that she does. My mother is an integral part of the woman I am today. And Yes, I am, in my own way…Untamed.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Wild, Passionate, Perfect in our Imperfection Mothers, like me, who hope to empower our children and those on our path with Hope, Healing and even some Untamed Adventures. What you do matters today and beyond. Always.