Stories, reading, and my mom.

I never remember my mom reading books, and yet I think she would if she had the time. Often she worked all day, had a second job, helped us with our homework, made our meals, cleaned the house. As many moms out there know, it is a thankless job, and yet I never remember my mom complaining. She stayed up all hours of the night for months to make our Christmas presents so that we would have something to unwrap under the tree. I did not know that at the time, and yet thinking back on the gifts she made for us I know the countless hours it took for her to pull it all off. If she was purchasing the gift she would put it on layaway months and months in advance and diligently go and pay a little more each week until it was finally paid off. This was before she had a credit card so it was the only way she was ever able to get gifts under the tree.

She was the epitome of stretching things to make ends meet. While I never saw her reading books, I always saw her studying the Bible, our church books, and praying. She read those periodicals voraciously. She was adamant that we all read well and, while I do not remember when I started to read, I rarely got in trouble for staying up to read with the flashlight. She must have known that one day I would figure out that I could either get sleep and feel rested or not and pay for it the next day.

While I do not remember my mom pushing me to read, I think she gently encouraged reading and knew I escaped into a book often as a kid. My home life was not the greatest place, and somehow I would jump into the plot of a book, and I could transport myself into a whole different realm. We were her guinea pigs while she was getting her Masters degree in Education. We would read excerpts and have to answer questions and I absolutely HATED the reading comprehension tests she made us take for her classwork. I hated it just as much on the SATs. I like reading, but I hated regurgitating it later with a list of questions.

As I think about storytelling, reading, and the passion I have for stories, I have a smile on my face. My brother-in-law makes up stories for my 2 month old niece and I know that she will have the adventure of story in her life. While I will not make her take practice reading comprehension tests, I know she will carry on the tradition of voraciously reading, like her mom and my mom. Stories let us live an entirely different life, if even for just a few moments.

My mom was a badass. I only wish she knew it. Maybe she did, I will never know.

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