What They Will Remember

Yesterday I spent a few hours in the southern Indiana town where I grew up. I came alone to do some thinking and some remembering. Some things you just need to get out of your system.


As I pulled into town, every intersection had a landmark I recognized but a street name I didn’t. Even though the town is a fraction of the size of the town where I now live, I couldn’t navigate the roads without my phone for directions.

It was a little maddening, recognizing that stone house on the corner and that water tower over there, but now knowing exactly how to get to the library. But these were the sort of things I expected. We moved away from here before I could drive so I never learned my way around. What I didn’t expect was at every turn, at every familiarity, I thought of my mom.

It wasn’t a particular memory, like oh there’s where she taught me to finger paint! or that’s where we went out to that fancy restaurant and laughed about all the funny things!

Maybe memory montages happen that way in the movies, but I didn’t have many specific memories of anything as I drove to our old house, to the parking lot of the grocery store, to the elementary school where I learned to read. Instead, it was more like a blanket of memory, singular. It was simply a familiar cloud of an old life brought near but not quite.

Mother's Day - chatting at the sky

I kept picturing Mom, younger than I am now, just being our mom. I kept imagining, everywhere I was, that Mom was close by and I needed to go on home to her. Her presence was a deeply safe place for me as a girl, something I’m not sure I realized until this very day. And it’s not because she mothered us like some kind of super-hero. She didn’t. But she was there, she was with us, she loved us, and I knew it.

Wandering through these familiar streets reminded me of what it means to mother well. Now that I have three of my own, I realize fancy is great, but it’s probably not what they’ll remember.

If you are a member of Hope*ologie, one of the podcasts for May features a conversation with Mom, Dad, Myquillyn and me about growing up, motherhood, simple presence, and embracing imperfection. Visit Hope*ologie to see what others are saying about the site and sign up today!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for loving us well.


  1. says

    ” But she was there, she was with us, she loved us, and I knew it.” ~ love this. Mothering well is simpler than I sometimes make it.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you, Myquillyn and your mama! Love you.

  2. says

    “…a blanket of memory, singular… simply a familiar cloud of an old life brought near but not quite.”

    Love these analogies. So apt, such exquisitely perfect descriptions of memory, especially place memory. I’m writing out this snippet and hanging it on the wall above my desk. Thank you for sharing your perceptions.

  3. says

    This resonates on so many levels. I’m learning the power of “with”.

    And side note- it has changed so much right? I was there last month and it all feels so grown. Though when I’m there I still feel 10.

    Small town Indiana girls we’ll always be.


  4. says

    After reading this post, I took a deep breath, letting out the tension I’ve been carrying around for quite some time. I felt the same way when I listened to your mother talking about motherhood during the Hope*ologie podcast. Thank you.

  5. Mandy Pieh says

    I recently saw a quote by Jill Churchill that said:

    “There’s no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.”

    I love that. And I love your way of naming the “memory montage.” That’s what I want my kids to have when they are adults: a montage of every-day, loving, caring, nurturing memories.

  6. says

    Perhaps we overcomplicate motherhood. Thanks for this peek inside your memories and the reminder that it’s an overall presence and safeness that undergirds our kids rather than memory after memory of cookie-baking and castle-building. {Because if it’s the latter? I’m not doing so awesome.}

    Happy Mother’s Day weekend. : )

  7. says

    my husband and kids spoiled me rotten by cooking for us, writing thoughtful notes in cards, and pooled resources to get me a great gift.

    mother’s day is great in our little circle; it is not so delightful, however, when i gaze out past the 4 walls of our home. i have a mom who abandoned me when i was 3, and a stepmom that i just haven’t bonded with.

    shopping for cards – which my husband helped me do – feels a bit ridiculous. we did purchase some this year, but i have yet to mail them. this is an area where i really need to turn it all over to God. I’m scared.

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