Sunday, May 11, 2008

Being a Mother

My beautiful brilliant immensely strong mother of 5' 3" raised 12 children (all ranging from 5' 5" to 6' 4") alone with a great combination of love and discipline with the "one man she loved next to God." Although my father was not around regularly (he too was a great man but with some weaknesses), she never bad mouthed him, nor did she ever raise her voice in anger towards us...not once! Regretfully, I cannot say the same about me. I have, however, without doubt, mellowed with years and never did I ever seek to hurt or offend others.

My mother showed us an extraordinary amount of love and discipline too. By today's standard, I have no doubt that she might be considered somewhat abusive but one could most certainly not argue with the results, nor does any of her children dispute her undying, unselfish love. She was the brightest most intelligent kindest most loving person I have ever known. Now ask me if when she spoke in soft tones if we absolutely knew she meant business. We did! But I must admit that she did not spare the rod, spanking us, no whipping us whenever she thought we had crossed noted boundaries. I must also admit to getting my fair share of whippings...believe me.

Not only did my mother apply corporal punishment, but so did my aunts, and seniors of our church. (And believe me no one was just beating up on us. Her eye was keen and watchful, her perceptions near flawless. She was sharp!) I do, however, wish to express that even with this sort of discipline it was abundantly clear that her whipping us was as she often said "more painful to me than it is to you." I didn't believe her then, thinking this can't be so. But as I got older I could clearly see that she was speaking truthfully. She would actually speak to us in soft determined tones as she delivered each lash her face ever so slightly twitching. I hated those talks. But value them today.

All of my siblings are productive citizens. We are ministers, chaplains, and entrepreneurs. Some have multiple degrees. We are also trained musicians, artists, and lovers of people of every nationality and creed. We are world travelers. My mother, though imperfect, showed us an abundant amount of love, discipline, and kindness unmatched by that of anyone I know. She was unselfish, but we respected her space. She guarded this too, teaching us to respect her space and each others and by extension others. Imagine this in a house of 12 children that are only a few years apart? From the oldest to the youngest there are 15 years between us. I'm the youngest.

Not only did my mother show great love to us, but to countless of others also. While we could not visit the homes of too many other kids unless she knew their parent well, our 7 bedroom house was always full of other peoples kids. We were also expected to visit nursing homes, tutor others, and show others acts of kindness regularly. "If you have two and your neighbor needs one, give it freely," she would say. We had great fun too! Being the cousin of Richard Pryor, she also had an amazing sense of humor. I miss her tremendously.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and to the fathers who are in such a role.


John O'Leary said...

Judith, your love and appreciation for your mother come through loudly and eloquently.

Corporal punishment, I like to think, has had its day. I don't blame those who administered it to me in the 50 & 60s (nuns and priests, not my parents) because it was an accepted part of Catholic (and even public) school culture then. And it ALWAYS produced the desired short term results. But questions remain about the long-term unintended consequences.

judith ellis said...

John...she was an extraordinary person. Regarding the long-term consequences of corporal punishment, there have not been many negatives for me. My siblings, however, rarely administer it to my nieces and nephews.

dave wheeler said...

Judith...while I have not had the pleasure of course of meeting you. I have had the pleasure of "hearing" your thoughts on many topics be they professional or personal. To say that I have a great deal of respect for what you say and admiration for the eloquence and clarity that you express your views with would be an understatement. There has always been consistency when speaking of your faith, your life's experience, and your love for your family. Your Mother most definitely was a very special person indeed.

One of the commodities that is missing in our world today to me is GHT...Great Home Training! An involved, engaged, loving, and supportive parent or parents, extended family, and "village" of church or neighborhood that teaches, parents, disciplines, and enables children to excel and succeed. You have always attributed your outlook, love of the arts, of people, and belief in service to others to cite just a few to your family and the special environment in which you and your siblings were raised. The results of your Mother's "work" as measured by the words and accomplishments of her "customers" show she attained "world class" results!

judith ellis said...

Dave...I'm glad you stopped in. Thank you so much for your words. They are quite encouraging. It is the words of others that often inspire us to move forward continuously. I do not take yours for granted.

Through our discussions on this blog and others, I have found you to be one of integrity and strength. I have come to respect you. It is my heartfelt desire to honor the work you most excellently render and hope that others will take notice of it and bid you well.

If we do not make the difference, who will?