I’m always talking about my mom. How she raised me. How I credit her with everything. How she loved me so much and did it so well.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately as the desire to start a family is beginning to bloom, but the feeling of not being ready is just eating away at me. (Read this post it’s an amazing take on being ready.) Allison talks about all the ways one can be ready, I don’t feel ready in any of those ways. But the spiritual readiness is the readiness I feel that I need most. I want to love like nobody’s business when that little baby enters our lives. I just want a house full of love. That’s all I want.

I’ve been reflecting on what exactly it is that made my mom so extraordinary. Although our family has its issues and I definitely have dealt with my fair share of childhood adversity and opposition, I turned out pretty dang good if you ask me–or my mom.

pardon me for using this same photo of mom and me every time, it's really the only good one we have

And that’s exactly what my mom did so very right. I can count on her to be in my corner no matter what. That has always been the case.

I remember a time in high school, I believe it was Freshman year, when I went to a movie with my girlfriends. They were sisters and their parents didn’t like them to see PG-13 movies (I came from a different household, I really could watch pretty much anything I wanted. My mom was more of a “Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves” kind of parent.) The girls wanted to see the movie Bounce. If I remember it was Christmastime and I suggested we see some PG rated Christmas movie instead. I did! They told me that their parents said they could choose and they wanted to go to Bounce. This did not set well with their mother. I remember their mom coming to my house to talk to my mom.  I remember their mom telling my mom that I was a “bad influence.” And I remember these exact words coming out of my mom’s mouth, as she nearly climbed out of her chair and gave their mother a good beating,  “Don’t you come into my house and badmouth my daughter. She is a good girl. I could trust her 1,000 miles away from me with nobody watching.” Boy, did mom ever lose her temper. And she lost it defending me. Proving her trust in me and the approval of the young woman I was.

A few months ago, Zach and I had a disagreement. Through my tears I said to him, “When I picture myself through my mom’s eyes, I can’t understand how you could be so hurtful.” In retrospect, it makes me want to laugh. Could you be more dramatic, Sharlee? Unlikely. But it’s the fact that I constantly have an awareness of my mom’s perception of me. Like I can never really beat myself up the way some other people do, because my mom is always rooting for the good person inside of me. Even when I do things wrong.

In any situation where someone says something hurtful to me, my mind eventually wanders to, “My mom could set this person straight in a heartbeat! No problem. In fact, if I asked her to, she would.” I get on with things quickly, and hurtful words rarely have the desired effect of those who write/say them because I know who I really am.  I know it because of her.

She has always told me how special I am. How much she loves me. How she thinks Heavenly Father chose me for her. I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing this, but every night when she would tuck us into bed, she would sing us made up songs. That meant a lot to me. One of the songs went, “Grandma loves Sharlee and Sharlee loves Grandma. Daddy loves Sharlee and Sharlee loves Daddy…” and so on. The other one was a tad more specific it went, “I love my Sharlee, my Sharlee Rose. She’s the sweetest girl I know. I thank my Heavenly Father every day, for sending her to me…” it continued, but you get the gist. Pretty simple songs, but I still remember them and can still hear my mom singing them to me. It makes my eyes water when I think about that. I picture me in my little pink bed, with my mom tucking me in, tickling my back, saying prayers with me, and singing to me.

We didn’t have daily family prayer and scripture study. We didn’t have weekly family home evening. We didn’t even go to church every Sunday for most of my childhood. Still I always knew who I was and what I was worth. I still didn’t need to follow the crowd. I have always been able to stand on my own and live my standards. I truly believe it has always been because of this knowledge of my mom’s love and my Heavenly Father’s love that she so greatly shared with me.

People can think of me what they will. But it really doesn’t matter. I have the love of my mom (and yes, a wonderful husband along with the love of many others). And that is enough for me.

And I know that in reading this post, my mom will undoubtedly get a lump in her throat or it will make her heart hurt because I’m still her little girl. She knows I’m imperfect (she’s the one who toasted Zach at our wedding, “Good luck with your handful!”) but she knows my heart better than anyone and she can see it when nobody else can. She will hurt for it when nobody else will. She shows me the kind of love that my Father in Heaven has for me.  She always has and I have always known that. It is a rare display of love, even among mothers.

I watch so many mothers who seem to say that they love their kids more than anyone else could know. But I can’t see it. It’s not like it is with my mom, so why? I think it’s because my mom loved me but she also liked me. She still does. She likes who I am as a person, she likes talking to me, she likes spending time with me. When I was little it was the same. I was my mom’s little friend, she liked hanging out with me. I wasn’t a burden or a trial. I never overheard her telling her friends that I was driving her crazy and she surely didn’t announce it from the pulpit at church. (All things in bold have either been heard/done and I’ve witnessed it/heard it firsthand.)

It reminds me of an excerpt from the book We Need to Talk About Kevin which is one of my favorite books of all time, albeit one of the darkest books I’ve ever read:

“I realize it’s commonplace for parents to say to their child sternly, “I love you, but I don’t always like you.” But what kind of love is that?…Who wants to be loved like that? Given a choice, I might skip the deep blood tie and settle for being liked. I wonder if I wouldn’t have been more moved if my own mother had taken me in her arms and said, “I like you.” I wonder if just enjoying your kids’ company isn’t more important.”

Which mom will I be? I always thought I’d be like my own mother. But I see how rare that is. And I am selfish. No matter how many times my mom, Zach, or anyone else disagrees, I know that I am selfish. And I can’t be as selfish as I am and be as good a mother as I want to be someday.

How do I do it right? I have such big shoes to fill and I want to do my personal best. I know there’s no baby here yet (and none on the way at this point) but I want to feel ready, like my friend Allison says she did. How can I do that? I know it won’t be easy. So baby steps, but how?