My mother is a superhero. A real life Wonder Woman. She was a stay at home mom for all of our lives, but somehow when my friends and teachers asked me what my Mom did, it never satisfied me to say that a woman raising seven kids to love each other and love the Lord was just a “stay at home Mom”. She is one of God’s most astounding creations, but I didn’t always see her that way. My Mom and I have two polar opposite personalities. I am emotional, impulsive, passionate, creative and forgetful. She is realistic, a planner, determined, logical and more organized than you could imagine. These character traits led to a little mini tornado in our house-hold often. Yes, she drove us everywhere, cooked us dinner every night, hosted our birthday parties, kept the house stocked with food and toys, planned our vacations, loved our friends, and loved us. She divided her time evenly amongst the seven of us, attending every game, play, classroom presentation and field trip she could. She gave, and still does give, the best gifts. Every Sunday she washed, combed, and braided hair so foreign to her- kinky curls we all obtained from our father- and learned to style five girls hair that each made it a point to have different taste. “I don’t want pigtails anymore! It’s too tight I have a headache! My bangs are too puffy! Can’t you make it straight like yours? I want long yellow hair!” (She should also receive a medal for the particular time when she spent a week combing through the heads of all seven children with a comb so fine that it looked like strings of floss held it together, because my older sister came home from camp with lice. Those memories will haunt me forever.) Though she was all those things, the time she spent with us day in and day out as my dad worked or traveled for work really and truly made us numb to her super-hero nature. Somehow, we were under a spell, blinded to all of her magnificence, only able to see her negatives. She became the bad guy, and I would complain that she told me to go change at least three times a morning because something was too tight, or too short, didn’t allow me go to parties where she didn’t know the parents hosting and when she told my dad what a challenge I had been after I had ferociously disobeyed and disrespected her all day (guaranteeing a serious spanking when he got home) I accused her of “telling on me.” Growing up, the only time we really and truly could grasp just how much we loved and needed our mother was on the very rare occasion that she had to go away for a weekend.
It only happened about once a year, but when news broke that she had a trip coming up the word spread through the Singletary house like a wildfire. Terror would show on our faces and we practically hung from the hem of her pants as she walked out the door, begging her not to leave. Why, you ask, was Mom’s lovely weekend trip such a panic inducing feat for us? Because my dad loves my mom more than I had ever known a man could love a woman. He spent every day making sure that we respected her the way she deserved to be respected. Some days we didn’t get it, but the days we finally understood were the ones spent with Dad in charge. He had painted a picture in his mind that when Mom came home, the house should be clean and homework should be done so she wouldn’t have to lift a finger. We would come downstairs the morning after her departure to find a large white-board with a list of instructions on it, the first of which being “No one is allowed in the kitchen until this list is finished. You. Will. Not. Eat. Until: your rooms, bathrooms, and closets are spotless, The laundry is separated and in the laundry room, Your lockers are clean, and the first floor is swept and then vacuumed. I have a fun day planned for us, but we can’t have fun until after we work.” After hours of cleaning and nights of waiting on Dad’s cooking (he is a fabulous chef, but a perfectionist through and through…he once spent all day on a stew and poured it down the drain at 10pm because it wasn’t right…oh our grumbling bellies) and being woken in the middle of the night because a task wasn’t done correctly, we had a deep longing and appreciation for the woman who brought us into this earth. I am so sorry I spent so much of my childhood pushing you away, Mom, but here 23 years later I can see exactly why Dad loves you so much. You deserve the world, because you have so willingly given your world to us.