When my brother, cousin and I were youngsters, my parents would frequently pull out the orca sized tape recorder to capture family moments. It was the 90s, and you had to have a lot of upper arm strength to record home videos.
In every Swift family video, you will hear my mom in the background saying “give the baby kisses” to the nearest toddler. Often, as the youngest, I was the baby receiving all of the kisses which may explain why physical touch is my love language. Thanks mom.
As we have gotten older, “give the baby kisses” has become sort of a joke between the family. Usually whenever the family gets together, someone will spout off “give the baby kisses” in a sarcastic yet still Lorie-like tone during any sort of mushy family moments.
Every time I hear that phrase, I think fondly of my mother. Her affection is felt in that phrase, even when she is miles away because she has always seemed to give love so effortlessly and enthusiastically.
I’ve realized over the years how much I am like her. I cackle like her, I’m creative and administrative like her; I have a knack for music, teaching, and ministry like her. I also get my enthusiasm for celebrating people from her.
My mom is excellent with people. Every time we are in a grocery store, some random stranger strikes up a conversation with my mom that lasts for a few minutes (it’s worth noting that this never happens to my brother, my dad, or I). People are just drawn to her.
As far back as I can remember and consistently through the years, my mom taught me to think of other people and stick up for them. Once in elementary, she knew of a girl in my class who was feeling left out from all the other girls in 5th grade. My mom pulled me aside and drew that girl to my attention. So, I sat with her at lunch everyday for a week until my friends became her friends.
I am who I am in life because of my mother; her love, guidance, example and prayers through the years. And I hope to someday be half the mother that she is.
Though I don’t have children yet, I’m guessing I will be the one to carry on the “give the baby kisses” legacy she has so eloquently established. Hopefully I can live up to that sort of mantle.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.