By Tamra Norton
This picture by Mary Engelbreit is my absolute, most favorite picture in the universe. I even have it framed and in a prominent location in my house. I suppose I love it so much because it speaks volumes of truth. The true "riches" we find in this life do not have a monetary value we can place in the bank and buy a new mini-van with, but are found in our relationships with the people God has linked us to. And it all starts with Mom.
If my theory of riches is true, then I'm the wealthiest person in the universe, because I definitely grew up in the lap of luxury. I'm child number five in a family of eight siblings--seven girls and one boy. We're a Yours, Mine & Ours, or a Brady Bunch family, consisting of seven girls and one boy (but please, don't feel sorry for my big bro. The dude held his own just fine!)
I remember back in elementary school--I believe it was fifth grade--and two of my closest friends switched schools. One moved away, and the other started attending Catholic school. This was a awkward stage in my life and I suddenly found myself feeling very lonely and isolated at school. After a few miserable weeks, I decided that for my half-hour lunch, and half-hour lunch recess, I would run the few blocks home during that hour every day, and spend that time eating lunch and hanging out with my mom. That hour with just Mom and me became the highlight of my day, and likely contributed to my decision to homeschool my own children.
Another difficult time in my life happened in seventh grade--junior high. Need I say more? At the time, I found myself seated at a table with three other girls during English class, and for whatever reason, "The Three" (as I will henceforth and forever call them) decided that they hated my guts, as well as my best friends guts. The really unfortunate part of this whole scenario was that my best friend (and her much-hated guts) wasn't in our English class. It was just me, and "The Three." After a few weeks of thinking that I'd rather eat a frog whole than attend another day in this class, I expressed my woes to my mom. I was almost hoping she'd sign me up for boxing lessons, or provide brass knuckles, but Mom was much more wise than that. She shared with me the simple phrase: kill 'em with kindness. She suggested I just ignore anything negative these girls had to say, and whenever I ran across them in the hall, simply say, "hi" and be on my way. As scary as this was to an insecure 12-year-old, I did it, and the whole brouhaha blew over faster than you could say seventh-grade-really-sucks-rocks!
Mom saved the day!
Now I'm the mother, with seven children of my own (and I have no intention of catching up with Mom). When lo and behold, just the other day, I had the most marvelous motherhood moment that made me feel like the wealthiest person in the universe. My 21-year-old daughter (child #2) admitted, of her own free will, that all those years ago when I'd broken up sibling squabbles and sisterly cat fights with the proclamation, "Some day you two are going to be best friends!" that I was right. She said she has more fun with, and would rather hang out with her siblings (child #1 and child #3), than anyone else. After pealing my face from the floor, I couldn't help myself, and said those four words your kids hate to hear: I TOLD YOU SO! I couldn't help myself.
Thank you so much Mom, for all the great advice you've given me over the years, and even the few "I told you so"s. :) You're the best Mom ever, and I'm the wealthiest child because you are in my life.