Tag Archives: value of mothers

Dear Mrs. Gray,

This is a letter of a different kind, an actual letter to an actual mother. It’s a letter to aspire to receive some day…remember this one the next time you’re teaching your children how to share and show compassion:

Dear Mrs. Gray,

You don’t know me, but I wanted to write you a letter.

My family and I are from Southern California, but we were visiting Utah last week for Thanksgiving. Last Sunday night we were trying to drive from Salt Lake to Park City, where we were staying with friends. A snow storm had blown in and the highway had several inches of snow by the time we made our way up the hill to Park City. The snow plows had not yet made their way to our stretch of highway and quickly we realized we were in trouble. Our California tires were no match for the snow and of course we didn’t have chains. We were following in the tire tracks of a big semi for a while, and so we were making progress up Parley’s Summit, but then our semi got stuck and we quickly came to a stop. Once stopped we couldn’t get the car moving again. There were cars all around us who were also getting stuck. If you didn’t have four wheel drive or some really good snow tires, you were out of luck. We thought we would have to wait a few hours until the snow plows came through and then have someone tow us into the plowed path. It was getting late, and our kids were tired and ready for bed.

You might wonder why I am telling you this story, but at this point your son Ben came to our rescue. He was driving behind us in a red pick up truck and when my husband got out to see how badly we were stuck, he asked if we needed help. Your son tried to give our bumper a push but we just got stuck again, the tires spinning and spinning. He could have just driven around us and been on his way like the hundreds of other cars, but your son pulled his truck in front of ours and grabbed a strap out of the back and tied our front bumber to the back of his truck. And then he pulled us ever so slowly up to the summit. Once we got to the top, he untied the strap (we were worried about braking on our way downhill and didn’t want to slide into his truck). But then he offered to follow us all the way down the hill to our exit in Park City, to make sure we didn’t get stuck again.

And so I wanted to write and tell you about your son, and the kindness he showed my family. I’m guessing, in typical teenage fashion, that he didn’t tell you what had happened that night. I’m betting he just came home and mentioned the storm in passing on his way to the fridge to grab a snack.

But I wanted to make sure you knew, and to thank you for raising the type of boy who would stop to help a stranger, even when it delayed his drive home by an hour or so on a dark and snowy night. My family and I are so grateful.

Brooke Reynolds and family
. . .
Brooke is a mother of two, book designer, amateur sew-er, and lover of flip-flops. A former senior art director at Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Kids, she writes at Inchmark, where this post first appeared.


From your grown child, looking back…

This entry isn’t really a letter but is actually a poem by the wonderful Billy Collins. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

~Billy Collins, from his collection The Trouble with Poetry

A letter to young moms, from an old one

I have a postcard with a picture of a woman sitting on the beach.  The caption says, “How beautiful to do nothing and rest afterward.”  I actually have days like that every once in a while.  I feel a little guilty about it when I talk to one of my daughters and am reminded of the life of a young mom.  Those were days I thought would never end.

There was no resting. I couldn’t imagine afterward. There were mornings when I woke up feeling like my bed was a launching pad. As soon as my feet hit the floor I’d be on a treadmill that picked up speed throughout the day until I finally flew off backwards at midnight, and staggered back to bed for a couple of hours.

I sometimes felt like a punching bag. It seemed there were always little feet in my stomach. Before my babies were born they kicked, then while they nursed, while we read stories, and even while I slept. My kids picked my most vulnerable moments of sheer unconsciousness at 3 a.m. to report a nightmare and climb into our bed. The next thing I’d know they were sleeping sidewards with their feet digging into my side and their head in their dad’s back.

In those days I always had a headache. About 3 in the afternoon I’d realize it was because I hadn’t gone to the bathroom all day. Mothers don’t have time for such trivial things. Besides, whenever I sat down for a minute alone on the john, some kid or another would open the door with a few neighborhood friends to tattle on a younger brother. Why invite that humiliation? It’s less trouble to just “hold it.” I was keeping track of so many other people’s potty schedules, I had to eliminate my own. I don’t think anyone cared much about my sacrifice.

I was always tired. It felt like I hadn’t slept for years! When I was in bed I had so much rattling around in my brain, I’d have to get up and write it all down. Since I was up, I usually checked on something or someone, remembered to write an excuse note to the teacher, took the milk bottles out, wiped off the sticky counter and put some shoes away. Then I’d sit down on the couch and think. It was so quiet at midnight, I almost hated to waste it by sleeping. If anyone asked I could boast, “I never sleep on the job.” Nobody asked.

Mostly I felt unappreciated. “Yuck…does this have onions?” was the usual compliment at dinner. New clothes were greeted with “Mom, the tags itch…I don’t like it.” An outing to the park always ended in tears, and the darling brothers and sisters I’d thoughtfully provided for everyone were annoying and smelly. I sometimes wondered what the point of it all was. I never got a promotion or a raise. Our next door neighbor told me I looked like a mother quail with all her little chicks following her in order down the street. Was this the fulfillment of all my dreams?? My dedication to this career went unnoticed. My husband was always supportive and encouraging, but I didn’t feel valued by society.

Let me tell all you moms out there that I appreciate you. Every time you say, “How many times do I have to tell you…” you are teaching your kids responsibility. When you say, “Don’t hit, bite, kick…” a hundred times a day, you’re promoting peace. Every day when you’re still there, you’re teaching your children trust and dependability and love. You may not realize what you’re doing, but you are changing the world, one kid at a time, one day at a time.

One of my favorite scriptures is “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work,and out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” Is there a greater work than providing a happy, safe home for kids? They need the strength you give them to survive and grow, and then they will contribute.

However, I admit that I love being free of everyday motherhood responsibilities. I’m appreciating middle age a lot! You guys, hang in there. The greatest work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home. You can rest afterward.

marty-halverson.jpg Marty writes at her blog, TravelinOma.