I think every mother must question their child rearing at some point, particularly during the early years in the trenches. Despite all the sagest counsel and books available, it appears child rearing becomes a unique journey of trusting one’s instincts and deciding day by day how to grow a child into a productive adult. I was blessed to have a mother who prayed for me and led by example in her daily life.
Mom was the bedtime Bible story reader, maker of the ‘Hobo sack lunches’ in the summer, and baker of special birthday treats. She was the proofreader of hundreds of essays, 4-H record books, and scholarship applications while expecting a standard of excellence. She has been the maker of thousands of homemade meals and the mixer of hundreds of milk bottles for orphan calves over the years.
Mom taught us priorities as a family. It was God first, family second, and ranch third. However, family ranch and ranch family were so intertwined that it would be hard to separate the two. Mom’s teaching on the ranch consisted of, “Take your coat, you never know what the weather is going to do!”, “Don’t ride the 4-wheeler up that hill!” and “Put your sunscreen on and your boots away!”
‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ meant Mom’s wooden spoon was used for more than just stirring biscuits. More than once did I get to sit with my nose in the kitchen corner over the years. I can also still taste the Ivory soap in my mouth, a consequence of getting too sassy as well.
Mom taught by example. She watched sales flyers and internally tracked produce prices, teaching me a ‘sale’ is not always a sale. She modeled calling her own mom Sunday evenings after 8 p.m. At the kitchen table she faithfully wrote out wedding, graduation, baby shower, and sympathy cards to those in the community.
My mom helped create lifelong habits in me – church every Sunday, writing thank you letters, ironing shirts, and pitching in where needed. I remember as a pouty 10-year-old questioning why we were again cleaning up after the 4-H club meeting and gave a very sound thesis about the inconsistencies in other family’s contributions to clean up. Mom ignored my analysis of others and instead simply responded that the sooner the job got done, the sooner we could all go home, so I had best start vacuuming.
After leaving home I began to realize all the little things that I took for granted. Breakfast, every single morning (sometimes with teddy bear or dinosaur pancakes). A fridge constantly stocked with leftovers. Her ability to put together a meal for unexpected guests with the ingredients in the cupboard. Homemade chicken noodle soup when I was sick. Fresh cinnamon rolls with chili. Raspberry freezer jam. Homemade meals were a love language Gary Chapman may have left out, but that Mom showed us daily.
Mom likely didn’t grow up dreaming of being a cow puncher on the Montana
prairie, but she has faithfully filled the ranch wife role for 39 years. She has demonstrated standing by and supporting a husband throughout droughts, fires, blizzards, and the devastating interest rates of the 80’s. She has simply done what was needed done. Whether it was checking calving cows in 40 below weather, baling hay in the 95-degree summer heat, or praying for rain, Mom has exemplified carrying on when things get tough, with seldom a complaint.
Proverbs 22:6 instructs, “Train up a child in the way he should go: even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I have been blessed by a mother who trained me up in the way I should go, who lived a life that I can model mine after and who is both my biggest critic and my biggest encourager.