A Happy Mama

70 years! My mom just turned 70! Her whole birthday weekend was fun—a family party for thirty of us at her house on Friday night (we’d sent her to the beach for the afternoon while we decorated and baked) and then a surprise brunch the next morning with all of her best friends.

PB & JMy Aunt Mary asked if I’d say a few words about my mom at the brunch and of course I said yes, knowing I wouldn’t have a hard time thinking of things to say. On her actual day though, I was a total wreck! All the faces at the extra long table were smiling, and I’d written my thoughts out ahead of time, but I still stumbled like crazy over my words and even cried at the end. Hard. Yikes.

I like words, but never seem to express myself well when it comes to speaking. Which is why I have a blog! And as I’ve thought more about my mom and all of her amazingness, I decided to write a little something to share the most important thing she taught me about motherhood.

It’s pretty simple, actually: be a happy mama.

Moms today deal with a lot of pressure. We think we’re falling short because we’re not Pinteresty enough or aren’t interested in—I mean, don’t have time for—daily tea parties or Lego sessions with our kids. But is that what they really need?

I actually have no childhood memories of my mom setting up crafts for us. I don’t remember her organizing play dates or making us perfect little snacks. I don’t think she ever sat down and played dolls with me. But I have no complaints about my childhood.

Because here is what I do remember: my mom smiling at us. She was always folding something, washing something, or bouncing a baby on her hip. But she was quick to listen if I needed to talk. She spent a lot of time laughing with her close circle of friends. She had seven kids, so our house was usually full of noise, mess, and people, but I don’t ever remember her fussing at us over any of it. She said yes all the time. She didn’t entertain us, but always gave us the freedom to run wild outside. She never made us wash our hands and we rarely cleaned our rooms. We were hardly ever sick. We ate a lot of junk food. A LOT. All of our friends loved coming to our house where they could gorge themselves on Lucky Charms and Little Debbie cakes. And of course, they all loved talking to my mom.

My mom put my dad first. Back then it was a little annoying. They went on a lot of dates. I didn’t realize she hates to cook until after my dad died in 2009. He loved a big dinner and she made sure he had one every night. He basically worshipped her. She was a wife first and then a mother. I never had to worry my parents might split up.

I have no memories of my mom yelling at us or snapping at us. Ever. As a mom now myself, I am constantly convicted by that. I’ve even wracked my brain over it, trying to think of just one time when she lost her temper. But nope. Nothing. She was just not a stressed out mama.

I am different from my mom in a lot of ways. I start to hyperventilate if my kids eat anything with food dye in it. And they have to make their beds every morning. But over the past year I’ve thought a lot about my top priorities. A clean house is nice. Healthy food matters. But do I want my kids to remember the way I flipped out when they turned the living room into a massive, creative mess? The way I controlled everything they ate? How I walked around the house constantly irritated because the kids were being kids?

The truth is, I want my kids’ childhood to look like my own. I want them to remember getting dirty outside, inventing games and art projects, and baking with me in the kitchen. I want them to have a happy mama who listens to them and laughs with them and often tells them how much I love being with them, something my mom did for us on a regular basis.

When my dad died of cancer, I was suddenly aware in a new way that life is fragile. These people I love so much—my parents, my extended family, even my husband and kids—will not live forever. It’s too easy to roll through the days taking them all for granted. So even though I’m sure I sounded like a fool when I fell apart sobbing at my mom’s birthday brunch, I think it was good to at least try to find a few words of gratitude.

In the end, I don’t think the people I love care all that much about perfection anyway.

Her Happy Place

  15 comments for “A Happy Mama

  1. GG
    August 18, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    How precious a tribute to your mom, Linni! Love these photos!
    You are sooooooooo right, about all you said…….and the children will be ever- so -forgiving, if you do things that you may think are necessary (like making their beds), and they balk at it….but these are ‘little’ things that also teach them . Children need to ‘feel comfortable’ in the home too…..so they mess it up, they can learn to pick up their mess….help mommy! I used to tell mine…..you’re big enough to mess it up, you’re big enough to clean it up…(even if I had to help). So what if the house is messy, and family pops in…who cares? We’ve all been there…..it’s YOUR home…..I used to say – “looks lived in”…..life gets messy sometimes!
    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…..” I LOVE watching you and Adam with the children…..you are SUCH GOOD PARENTS”. It’s a delight and privilege to be around your family. Enjoy them while they are little, play with them, that’s part of the ‘fun’ of being a parent. It gets testy, I know, because you have leveled ages, but always keep in mind……they are LEARNING TO BE…..as YOU…already are!
    Thanks for sharing this story; I find it very difficult sometimes, to put into words, what is in my heart….sometimes we can’t, but the tears show the meaning…..’washing of the soul’.
    Love you,

    • linnea
      August 18, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      I feel like you do a great job expressing your heart with words. You are always an encouragement to me!

  2. Mom
    August 18, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Linni, you are too good to me with these words. And I’ll never forget my spectacular birthday weekend! Thanks for all you did to make it so. I love you!

    • linnea
      August 18, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      Love you too!

  3. Carole Hawkinson
    August 18, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!! Just like your Mama!!!

  4. Julia
    August 18, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Yes!! This is exactly how I remember your mom, too! I always look forward to the “trade days” when we got to spend the afternoon at your house. Always fun!! You did so great at the party, Linni! It was a beautiful tribute from a daughter to her mom. Your words touched all of our hearts.❤️

    • linnea
      August 18, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      It was great to reconnect with you guys this summer! I think it should be a summer tradition to do our trips at the same time. :)

      • Julia
        August 18, 2015 at 9:25 pm

        Yes!! Great idea. So fun to be with you guys!

  5. Weez
    August 18, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Such an inspiring post! Though I don’t have kids yet I hope to be a happy mom too!

  6. linnea
    August 18, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Weez, you are going to be the best mom! Happy for sure, and making memories at every single holiday. :)

  7. Connie
    August 18, 2015 at 7:51 pm


    You are a wonderful mix of both of your parents, and you did an awesome job
    at the brunch. Your words and emotions came from your heart which was so appreciated
    by all of us. You are so right, your Mom was the fun Mom to not only her children but
    to many others, just like Grandma J (Aunt Pat) was to us. Your Mom had a good teacher as did you and I believe sometime in the future your daughters will feel the same way about you.

  8. kim zeiss
    August 18, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Oh how I love reading your words. You are an awesome mom! I’m so glad you were able to spend that time with your mom. I miss you & your sweet kiddos. ♥♡

  9. Nelson
    August 20, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Fantastic Linni!
    I almost cried reading that. So true and a good reminder not to sweat the small stuff.

  10. GG
    August 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I think Nelson hit it just right ….”don’t sweat the small stuff”…..really….it’s ALL small stuff! Embrace each day, each moment as it comes….I promise you…every morning is a new, fresh beginning, and each day will be different! that’s what is so exciting about family life! With God the center of it…it will ALWAYS be exciting!
    Love you ,

  11. Cousin Glo
    September 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Linni, I’m sure your mom treasures your kind words! To be remembered as a happy mom is the best compliment ever!

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