Thursday, November 21, 2019

Mom No Longer Knows Everything

I used to toss around the phrase "Moms know everything," as an only-half-joking way to end arguments, protracted questionings, and suspicions about my credibility.

I'm sure the children always thought I invented it myself, but it came from one of the many people who invested in my kids. When we lived in Dryden, Ontario, one of the single staff ladies at the camp where we lived wanted to give my children a Christmas gift. Like all the other voluntary service people, she didn't have much money. So she bought two secondhand children's books and read them aloud into a cassette recorder, clanging a spoon on a metal bowl when it was time to turn the page.

Then she gave the children the books and the tapes. I still think it was one of the cleverest low-cost gifts ever. The kids practically memorized those stories.

I can still see this young lady in my mind--round face, glasses, smiling--but I can't bring up her name. Something Coblentz, maybe.

[Later: Brenda Coblentz! That's who it was!]

One part of one of the stories had a list of weather-related words like meteorology, hygrometer, and anemometer.  Miss Coblentz slowly sounded them out and then added, aside, "If you don't know what those are, ask your mom. Moms know everything."

What a handy phrase. I ended up using it a lot.

It came up again this morning.

Steven is home, briefly. He just finished an intense 3-month paramedic course at a community college in McCook, Nebraska. Next week he heads to Las Vegas for his internship. "Las Vegas is good because there's lots of gunshot wounds, heart attacks, that kind of thing."

I went into the guest room this morning to get some books to fill an order. Steven was still in bed and on his phone. "I'm reading about drugs," he said.  "Ketoralac." He explained further complicated things about Ketoralac that I can't remember.

"I was wondering," I said, "what you do when you come on the scene and someone is unconscious. Let's say you know they need a certain drug, but you don't know their medical history, and you don't know if they're on a drug that will react with what you need to give them."

He explained that if someone's unconscious, you check their blood sugar and their pupils. Dilated pupils could indicate an overdose of a benzo drug. Pinpoint pupils indicate narcotics. He casually went on to explain processes, symptoms, solutions, and if-then scenarios, all peppered with multi-syllable medical words that slipped into one of my ears and out the other without registering in my brain.

I said, "You know, the days when I knew more than my kids are long gone."

He laughed. "Moms know everything?"

"Yes. But not any more."

Those were good days, when they came to me wondering why are leaves green, how old is Grandma Yoder, and who is that new family in church? When will it be my birthday, why do we pray before we eat, and where is the shampoo? Why do tigers have stripes, is this rope strong enough for a swing, and what are we having for supper?

I knew everything.

That is no longer the case.

Last week, I was twirling a fidget spinner and noted the pressure on my fingers when I tilted it back and forth. "Oh!" said Jenny and Amy. "Conservation of angular momentum."

Seriously, who pulls up those words as casually as I recall how to spell mayonnaise?

Among the six of them, they know vastly more than me about rocket fuel, pop bands, Narcan, the Thai language, the combustion rate of lignin, space travel, politics, cooking, fashion, coffee, farming, culture, chemistry, teaching, sports, directing drama, and much much more.

That is as it ought to be. I picture a little splash in a pool, and the ripples radiate outward, into faraway river systems and oceans.

"As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth," says Psalms 127:4.

Off they go. Outward from the center.

1 Chronicles 4:10 says, "Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request."

I don't pray Jabez's prayer for myself, because I already have more options and opportunities than I can handle, but I pray it for my children, that their influence for good would radiate steadily outward into a world that needs kindness, knowledge, Jesus, wisdom, humor, literacy, joy, clean water, and rescue.

I know as much as I did back then, and lots more besides, but it's no longer everything. It's only a tiny bit, in comparison.

That's ok. I am happy to be here at home, sending and praying, nudging and encouraging, ever outward. Here at the center, where it all began, is a good place to be. 


  1. Dorcas, you have such a warm way of conveying something that for many mothers would be a painful reminder of days past, wishing they could make the future as clear. Thanks.

  2. I used to know everything too. But now I'm just so grateful for all I've learned from our adult children. All thing Korean, aerodynamics and blacksmithing, cars, motorcycles, film making, medicine, body-building, and on and on. I love learning about all their interests, vocations and hobbies. They have totally expanded my world. Of course, they still call me for recipes and cooking advice; how to clean things, for advice on relationships, and how to handle money; and for reassurances that they are loved and on the right path. Isn't being a mother the greatest!!

    1. Oh, I hear you! So nice when they call about recipes or how to remove a stain. And I've learned a lot from them.

  3. I am where you are with five grown and four married and six grandchildren. Our 26 year old daughter in law is a psychology professor and I often wonder if she is analyzing me. LOL. They do still ask me for recipes and such. I, too, am comfortable here at home in case they need me.

  4. Haha! Thats funny