Gezellig- an almost undefinable Dutch word that describes cozy and homey. The warm bath and old slippers feeling.
I was an amazing kid. I know some people say that, but I so was. I was super responsible, super helpful. I was capable, and really considered myself equal to my mom. We were the best of friends. She would practice her Tupperware presentations on me. She tried to homeschool me a couple years. I would tell her everything about my life. I would literally narrate each day spent away at school, each birthday party, every sleepover. I would tell her Every. Single. Thing.
Fast forward through high school. She was still my best friend, but I rebelled hard. It was probably the worst time of my life- knowing that I was breaking her heart and then still needing her so bad. I’m sure it wasn’t a peach for her, either. We would talk, argue and spend hours together, both in our garage and at the restaurant in town. I valued her friendship so much: but no longer was I her equal, and I knew more about life than she did.
Now, I realize how much she really knew.
She knew just the way to react to everything. When I did something great- a good job with my chores, or at school- she had this way of drawing in her breath really audibly. I don’t know how to explain it better than that. This sort of shocked, WOW! slow, deep breath in. With a huge smile, big eyes, and so much praise. Even right now, I can hear it and feel it. I wish I could bottle it up and hold it forever and release a little when I complete a task around the house.
She knew when to be mad. She would understand my offence right away, and carry it herself. She knew exactly how I was feeling and where I was coming from. I never really had to explain because she almost always knew my motivations and my intentions. She always believed the best of me
She would leave me surprises on my bed. Magazines, treats, anything. It always made me feel like I was loved. Whenever I needed anything, I would just ask her, and I would get it. Whether it was gas in my tank, clothes, or drive thru, I always felt taken care of. There was never ever a doubt in my mind. Looking back, I was spoiled and entitled, I guess!
Seriously, no one has ever had my back as much and as tough as my mom. And how much credit have I ever given her?
Seven years ago, my mom had a stroke. It was one of those moments that have shaped me. When the phone rings too early or too late, I think of her. Of when she didn’t remember me, or she kept telling me the same things over and over. Of being in ICU, and calling the nurse a few times a night to make sure she was still breathing. Of having no money, and trying to pay for parking at the hospital, and needing gas to get to the city every day. Pacing the floors at 36 weeks pregnant, along with a three and a two year old.
A few days after she came home, I delivered my first girl. Since I was so expecting her to be a boy, it took months for different hopes and thoughts to come over me. I would lay awake in the middle of the night nursing my sweet baby, and all of a sudden think of chatting into the night. Doing her nails. Shopping for shoes. Being friends.
And now that little girl is getting bigger, and I realize how much work this whole parenting thing is. It doesn’t just happen- this magic where they look at you and want to please you or make you proud. You have to work for it. You have to be present in the small moments, so they will trust you with their big.
I’m starting to believe that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t amazing at cleaning the bathroom, or watching my little sibs, or doing my math. But- she really made me believe it was so. She called out the best in me by meeting me exactly where I was and loving me for it the whole time.
Basically, I just need to honour my mom. Just to tell the world what she is, and how she’s done it. Our house was always full as a teen. I share her with many people who still, to this day, call her Mom. She started over late in life, and found herself in a new community and new church. She has struggled with her health for longer than I care to remember, and yet still tries to give every last bit of herself away. She tries so hard to make sure people are comfortable around her. She loves to make people laugh, and will laugh easily with you too, even if you aren’t that funny (ask me how I know.) She is my biggest fan.
I know a lot of really smart people. A lot of really put-together people. A lot of successful people, in all different things. I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable around them, or good about myself. They didn’t make me want to chat for hours and hours about nothing and everything. If anything they make me feel less than, or leave me worried later on that they misunderstood me, or didn’t get me.
It’s hard to make a house into a home, to make an environment where people grow and thrive and know they are loved.
But my mom has mastered both keeping the home, and being the home wherever she goes. She is gezellig, walking around.