Of course, it hit the book shelves and I do not even remember it. I was only five years old, or was it six? Regardless, P.D. Eastman produced a story that I remember fondly reading with my kids in the late 70’s and early 80’s – I am sure it never showed up on my radar until I had kids of my own.
Are You My Mother? A story about a bird hatching from the egg and hunting around for its mother who was away catching worms to feed the soon to hatch baby. “Are You My Mother” the bird would ask of many different creatures, because it had no clue to what it looked like. Each response was a negative or blank stare.
My kids entered into life interested in the printed word. While it may be true a few pictures helped along the way, the concept of those chicken scratches on a piece of paper grabbed their attention. Of course, it helps that both of their parents, and many generations before them, were interested in reading.
It was nothing for my kids parents and grandparents to pick up books by the dozens throughout any given year, and read them through while ready to stock their shelves with more books. From novels (any kind of fiction) to theology and on to science – I remember getting books that covered the gambit of knowledge. Even to this day I enjoy reading James Michener historical and sweeping novels of peoples, countries and movements – and am even re-reading them today. My wife is an inhaler of books and enjoys reading, and reading, and reading. In her world it was her dad who read a lot – seems like it was mostly Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour.
One of my greatest joy’s is seeing my kids continue searching through books for input into their lives. Whether simply reading, or even to writing their own, they are extending the concept of the written word to the next generation. They are both exceptional bloggers and I enjoy reading how their minds work. Kids, keep on reading and keep on writing!
So, how did I get my reading excitement?
I remember a neighbor building mom a book shelf. It was stained black and had sliding doors on part of the base unit where you could hide away things, maybe even clutter – I don’t know… But resting on these shelves were volumes of books. Books for the taking and reading. I remember those sets of books of science and Christian stories that came with the encyclopedias and I am almost positive I read through every single volume, multiple times. Encyclopedias were used for research, and that huge two volume set of a dictionaries – wow, so many words to learn or know! (I enjoy having the dictionary connected to my digital reading and find that I am always checking out words for their meanings and roots.)
Though an earlier time I remember the Dr Seuss books arriving in the mail and with excitement I would take these books to the far reaches of the grounds on which we lived and read them at a picnic table. From this learning experience (I do not remember anything about learning to read in grade school – it all happened at home), I moved on to the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift and other such young readily available material. At the library in Channelview (the same one’s my kids would later go to and check out a dozen books per week), I remember inhaling the books of historical characters from the founding of our country. It put their history into light that I could read and understand.
Amazingly, there were other short lived excursion into books about cars, motorcycles, airplanes and other such physical things – it’s probably why I have driven over 1.5 million miles, owned a bike or two, and got my pilots license back in the 80’s…
Of course, growing up required growing up taste. Mom introduced me to Alastair McLean and the spy novel genre. Again, a new pathway of books to explore. Somewhere along the way science fiction became a mainstay, and even to this day I enjoy a good space exploration story…
I cannot tell you how many times I have read the bible through, but there is a love and a search light in my heart for the Word of God. Even to this day it has a prominent place in my life as a pastor, but even without my role I know it would never collect dust on shelf. Read Psalms 119 to get the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet introduction to the Word of God…
All of this for one thought – we are often exactly who we turn out to be based upon one main person in life – our mothers. In my growing up days mom’s were often the “stay at home” type that were heavily involved with their kids days. My mom was no different. At one point I remember her returning to college and then eventually teaching school, but the die was cast and she had spent all those hours, days and years with us at home – grooming us to who we are today.
There is a mothering spirit alive and well in the heart of many women who may or may not have children of their own. This is something only a woman can give – there is something about women who love like a mother all the way through their lives and I appreciate it so very much. This mothering spirit should be the image of the church as we grow lives into the Christian life we should be living…
Mothers face a difficult challenge in this present world. When it seems that both parents are required to work in order to adequately provide for the family, too many children miss out on what I took for granted. When my kids came along, my wife quit her job and stayed home with them for 10 years or more, until they were both in full time school – and then she went back to work. It was a blessing for us that she did!
The world is different today. Rules have all changed. Life is so uniquely challenging on many fronts – but the one thing that should never change, our children are a product of their culture and it is mostly from their mom’s that they become who they are today.
Love you mom!