I know our Mom Next Door this week; Melodye, in both real life and even closer in the blogosphere where we enjoy reading each other's ramblings and updates on living a creative life, parenting, and gratitude. Melodye is someone I admire both from a parenting perspective and creatively. She is constantly attempting new projects that are just outside of her comfort zone to continue to grow and expand her artistic and inventive abilities. Oh, and did I mention she has had MS for over a decade?
A few weeks ago, Melodye posted a picture to her facebook that stopped me in my tracks. It was one of her in a hospital bed with her two kids from sometime in the 90's. Her photo left me reflective and grateful for dependable and consistent health that I regularly take for granted. The photo reaffirmed my interest in including her voice in the Mom Next Door Series. Not only because she is a Mom that continually finds the strength to parent through a debilitating illness but also because she refuses to let that be the thing that defines her as neither a Mom nor a person.
Please take a moment and enjoy your coffee while you read about my dear friend, fellow Mumma, and the fearlessly creative, Melodye O.
Who are you? Melodye Joy, age 54 (soon to be 55), living in rural western PA. I blog at: www.melodyejoy.wordpress.com
Who is in your family? Darling DannyO (married 34 years), Amanda; 32 (married to Hengyi), Brent; 28. My kiddos live away from home, in Virginia and Florida respectively. We are soon to be puppy parents of an Airedale. Sometimes one must compromise to have a good marriage and this is one of my compromises :)
|2013: Brent, Melodye, Danny, Amanda, and Hengyi|
What has become (at least for now) your parenting mantra or guiding principle? “I still own the air you breathe,” was my parenting mantra as the kids were teenagers and college-aged (because we helped with tuition and housing). I was a better parent of older children. I encouraged my kids to talk to me about anything. I’d listen, take a deep breath before responding because I didn't want them to stop telling me things. Sometimes I’d choose no response. If asked, I’d give them my best advice and remind them who was boss. I have since found out that my kids didn't tell me everything!!!
“New Morning, New Mercies,” is what I remind them now, as they go through young adult-hood. It is wonderful to know that you can start fresh each morning, no matter what happened the day before. Adulthood is hard and nothing really prepares you for working 12 months out of the year, college loans, house woes, etc.
What would your pre-mom self be surprised to know about motherhood? That I could love another human being more than myself. I love my husband but didn't understand sacrificial love until I became a Momma.
|1985: Amanda, Melodye, and brand new baby Brent|
|1986: sled-riding with Mom!|
|2006: Melodye, Danny, Brent, and Amanda|
What big projects, worries, or events have you busy right now? When Amanda was growing up, I made all of her formal gowns (mostly because I didn't work and we didn't have the extra money to pay hundreds of dollars for gowns). For five years or so, I went from formal to formal, thinking about the next outfit even after I was putting the finishing touches on the current one. I also made all of the Halloween costumes – some very extravagant – like the TMNT costume for Brent and the Rainbow Brite outfit for Amanda.
Now I sew for myself, make jewelry, and paint. I have a new project in the works but the first version was an epic fail so I am not going to make it known until I succeed... good art sometimes takes time.
|2012: Danny and Melodye|
I also have a little art studio off of my bedroom. It contains my sewing machine, jewelry supplies and paints. I say, “I’m going up to create.” It is my happy place and if I’m in that room, everyone knows to leave me alone until I come out.
|Editors photo edition:) Some of Melodye's work (from upper left): a painted table, hand-bent earrings, necklace created from client's mother & grandmother's jewelry, and mixed media piece|
What do you feel like you were really good at as a mom? Schedules!!!! I organized my house, my life, Danny’s life, Amanda’s life, Brent’s life. There wasn't much that surprised me – mostly because I had to deal with the darned MS. I would make a weekly plan, a daily plan and, in the evening, would make sure that the next day’s schedule was in place!! Both kids realized how good I was at it when they went to college and didn't have me there to schedule their lives!!!!
|1987: Amanda, Melodye, and Brent|
I also modeled (even if imperfectly) for Amanda how to be a woman. I taught Brent how to treat a woman.
|1984: Little Amanda|
When Amanda was in sixth grade, I think; in the early-90’s, my MS was particularly bad. Danny left for work very early. Amanda, for one whole year, got herself up, ready for school and walked down our 1⁄4 mile lane in the dark. If I think about that too much, I weep. I've apologized to her more than once for that failure. She is a well-adjusted young woman so I’m thinking she survived without too much injury!
|1993-94: Brent, Melodye, and Amanda|
|1986: Baby Brent|
What are the small joys of being a Mom that you treasure most right now? When I get a phone call, a text or a note from my precious kids. This year, one of them sent me the most precious note... the gist of it was that I believed in them when no one else did. I think that’s what brings me the most joy, knowing that, just by praying for and continuing to say, “You've got this!” I can change their self-talk. A Mom should never stop telling their kids that they can do it! Now, that’s different than letting your kids think they’re the best thing since “sliced bread.” If you don’t allow them to fail, they won’t learn how to pick themselves up!
|2012: Amanda and Brent|
What I miss most are Amanda’s hugs. I miss the way Brent says something in a way that just makes me laugh. I hear from both of them almost every week. We are all Facebook friends so I can “see” what they are doing. Almost every day I text them to tell them I love them and I usually include a Bible verse. Even if they are busy at work and cannot reply, I know they are drawing strength from my strength.
|Amanda's Wedding 2012: Melodye, Amanda, Danny, and Brent|