On mothers.

On Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a daughter.

My sister Alexa, my Mom Jeannie, and me at Duke Relay for Life...13 years after my mom overcame throat cancer.

I’m lucky to be a daughter to my mom. She has been in my life for all 9,761 days of it (so far.) She is strong and courageous and creative. She’s taught me to hold my own when things are hard and to laugh and not take myself too seriously (after all, she’s been doing that for years.) She has raised me to do the right thing, to value my family above all else, and I’m grateful to her for that. She’s reminded me that I’ll always be a Farmer and has loved me unconditionally from day one.

My mother-in law Lisa and I at my bridal shower - six days before I married her son.

I’m also lucky to be a daughter-in-law. Something incredible about marriage that they don’t really tell you about is that suddenly, your family grows. I married my husband, but I also married new cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, 2 pesky older brothers, a father…and a mother too.

I’m daughter-in-law to a mom that is adventurous and supportive and generous. She’s teaching me to hold my own during family game night and hunting trips among a bunch of rowdy boys (she has, after all, been doing that for years.) She raised my husband to be a remarkable person, and I’m grateful to her for that. She welcomed me with open arms into her amazing family and made me feel like a Garrett from day one.

On Mother’s Day, I’m thinking about these women and am thankful for them. They make me want to be a good daughter…and hey, maybe one day, a good mother, too.

Below, I close with an amazing poem my sister recently shared with me. Its about amazing moms who tell their daughters that though their voices be small don’t ever stop singing. I’m lucky my Mom one day said that to me…if I should ever have a daughter, I’ll have a lot to learn from her.

Happy Mother’s Day!

(Note: the poem is from 0:00-3:40)

If I should have a daughter…“Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”

She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself.  Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried.

And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.

But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boats nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it.

I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.

You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.

And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.

“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.”

Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.

Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat…you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.

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3 responses to “On mothers.”

  1. Bonnie says :

    Jenna,
    Yes, indeed, your mother is all that you said, especially the part about loving her daughters, you, and Alexa, too. Perhaps some day you will have a daughter…although sons are pretty nice, too…and if you do, you will have a clearer, deeper understanding of just how much a mother loves her children.
    My mom died 46 years ago, about three months before my first child was born, Rob, or Robbie, and he was known then. After he was born, I remember holding him and crying and grieving on a deeper level for my mom. I clearly remember thinking, “oh…. this is how much my mother loved me.” And so, life goes on and we try, though it is sometimes hard, to make loving a choice and priority.

  2. Bonnie says :

    Jenna,
    Yes, indeed, your mother is all that you said, especially the part about loving her daughters, you, and Alexa, too. Perhaps some day you will have a daughter…although sons are pretty nice, too…and if you do, you will have a clearer, deeper understanding of just how much a mother loves her children.
    My mom died 46 years ago, about three months before my first child was born, Rob, or Robbie, and he was known then. After he was born, I remember holding him and crying and grieving on a deeper level for my mom. I clearly remember thinking, “oh…. this is how much my mother loved me.” And so, life goes on and we try, though it is sometimes hard, to make loving a choice and priority.
    Today was good. Each day is good in its own way, even if it has a hard lesson to teach us. Today was good because I was with my daughters and their families. I am rich some very important ways.
    bonnie

  3. Jess says :

    Love this Jenna. Thanks for sharing – and for being so inspiring.

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