The state of motherhood means there are children involved.  Even if they are grown.  Even when the title “Mom” is affectionately given to a special lady in one’s life.  A mom might have natural-born children, or they may be adopted.  Or foster children.  Or those that actually belong to someone else, yet she serves as a parental figure of some sort (such as a mother-in-law). 

One thing I know for sure about children: they are all different.  Bob (my late husband) and I had three of them.  We learned very quickly that what worked for one of them might not work for the other two. 

Jonathan, our first son, was the “experiment” child.  Since Bob and I had never been parents before, he was our learning lab.   Soon after he was born, we noticed how wide-eyed Jonathan was when awake.  I remember the nurses bringing him to me in the hospital and noticing the big eyes peering out of the blanket.  From the beginning, he was an observer.  He liked to see how things worked and how he could manipulate them.  When around other people, Jonathan was quiet and reserved. 

Two years after we entered parenthood, our second son was born.  At first, Adam was really reddish in color, and not nearly as alert as his brother.  He was definitely more laid back and a very happy baby.  However, he was also very independent.  I spent lots of hours rocking Jonathan to sleep; Adam wanted no part of that.  He was not a cuddly baby, so it’s a good thing that he easily dozed off on his own.  All I had to do was place him in his crib, and he would be asleep in no time.  Of the three of my children, Adam was the peacemaker.  He could get along with either of the other two.

During my pregnancy with Molly, Jonathan often told people that his mommy was having a girl.  “I have one brother.  I don’t need another one,” he stated emphatically.  He began to call her “Molly” (which was the name Bob and I had picked out if Adam had been a girl) even before she was born.  This was in the days before ultrasounds were common, so the gender-reveal happened at birth.  Unlike the two boys, Molly had a full head of hair. 

Our daughter began vocalizing at an early age; Molly was speaking in sentences soon after she was a year old.  And talk she did.  Before long, the little boy that was so enamored with his sister kept coming to me and demanding, “Mom, make her quit talking!”  Molly never knew a stranger.  She could converse with anyone, quite different from her introverted mother.

Somehow, Bob and I managed to see our three through the teen years.  There were days when I told my children, “My name is not Mom, it’s Ursula.”  I was tired of constantly settling disputes and looking for lost items.  

Then the day came when our home was empty of offspring, yet motherhood didn’t stop there.  I will always be a mom.  Each of my children has children of their own, so I added another title, “Grammie!”  I can’t say that I was a perfect mother because I have a lot of regrets.  But I can say that I am proud to be the mom of Jonathan, Adam, and Molly.  The mother-in-law of Heather and Candice.  And the Grammie of Maggie, Vivian, Lincoln, Liam, Melody, Elijah and Colton.  God has blessed me tremendously!

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day.  Need recipe ideas?  Try these:

Hot Chicken (or Turkey) Salad Pie

2 cups cooked, cubed chicken or turkey

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup broken pecans

1/2 cup chopped sweet pickles (may use bread and butter pickles)

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 9-inch pie shell, half baked, cooled (see note)

1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, finely shredded (may use Cheddar blend)

1 cup potato chips, crushed

Combine chicken (or turkey), celery, pecans, pickles, mayonnaise, and seasonings.  Mix together well.  Pour into partially baked pie shell.  Sprinkle with finely grated cheese; top with crushed potato chips.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cut into wedges.  Serve hot.

Note:  The chicken salad may be divided between 4 pot pie-sized half-baked piecrusts.  Adjust the amount of cheese and potato chips as necessary to top each pie.

Note 2: Try chilling the salad instead of baking it in a crust – yum!

Mandarin Broccoli Salad

3/4 cup mayonnaise (may use salad dressing)

1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 (16-ounce) package broccoli flowerets

1 (11 to 15-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained

1 small purple onion, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Combine first 3 ingredients; add broccoli and next 3 ingredients.  Chill 8 hours.  Top with almonds.  Yield: 12 servings.

Glorious Morning Muffins

2 eggs

3/4  cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups shredded carrots (2 to 3 medium)

1 cup shredded peeled apple

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup sliced almonds (may use coarsely chopped walnuts instead)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper baking cup in each of 18 regular-size muffin cups or grease with shortening. In large bowl, beat eggs, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until well blended. Add flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. With spoon, stir in carrots, apple, coconut, raisins and 1/2 cup of the almonds.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup almonds over batter.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from muffin cups.   Makes 18 muffins.

Fresh Strawberry Refrigerator Dessert

1 (14-ounce) Sweetened condensed Milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Graham crackers (may use cinnamon-flavored) –about 1-1/2 packets

Blend milk and lemon juice together.  Cover bottom of narrow baking dish with a layer of graham crackers.  Place half of strawberries over crackers.  Cover with half the milk mixture.  Repeat layers, ending with a layer of graham crackers. Chill 6 hours or longer.

Lime-Mint Tea

10 cups water, divided

6 regular-sized tea bags

2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped

1-1/2 cups sugar

1 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large non-aluminum pan; pour over tea bags.  Cover and steep 5 minutes; remove and discard tea bags.

Stir in mint; let stand 15 minutes.  Pour through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discarding mint.

Bring remaining 6 cups water and sugar to a boil in a large non-aluminum pan; cool.  Stir in tea and juices.  Chill; serve over ice.

(The flavor of this tea improves overnight, so this is a good recipe to make a day or so ahead of serving it.)