I've been thinking a lot about my mother this week.
Not because of the holiday or the 3000 Facebook posts - seriously - but because I spent the week "mothering" my sister's five children (in addition to my two) while she and her husband took a 10th anniversary vacation. Luckily, I had Slice with me the entire time, and he is extraordinarily well-suited to the task of fathering. This may or may not have been a major factor in my decision to marry him.
There were quiet times when all four children under four were napping simultaneously. There were crying babies in the middle of every night. There were meals and messes and baseball games and fevers and muddy footprints. There was a lot of time to think about my own mother, her decision to have lots of babies and lots of sleepless nights, her decision to give every waking moment to someone else's needs, her decision to live her life by faith.
I thought about stories I've heard, like when my parents were so poor they celebrated by buying whip cream. When Grandma chastised them for getting pregnant again. When my arm broke and they didn't realize it for a week, when we missed out on the (every) family reunion because mom was having a baby.
It's not that I 'don't know how she did it all,' although I still wonder, pretty much every day. It's that she did it so well, with so many, all with different needs. And then she opened her arms to complete strangers and accepted them as her own.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't necessarily like other people's kids. I hated babysitting when I was younger; I worried about being annoyed instead of sympathetic to my babies' cries. I taught primary for a year and got increasingly antagonistic toward my class members. I got called to nursery in my ward a month ago, and am hoping I can make it through. Excepting nieces and nephews and a few others, I just don't love kids.
So my mother is a constant source of inspiration for me. She who 'stayed home' and raised twelve children, all of whom still want to be around her and each other. She who grew and birthed and rocked and fed and loved us, through the hardest of times, and even gave two little Russian boys all she had to offer. She who is a mother and a teacher to everyone fortunate enough to know her.