“Vickey, I don’t relate,” I wanted to say when I first started editing Vickey Pahnke Taylor’s new book Apron Strings: Tender Ties between Mothers and Daughters. “I can’t remember the last time I wore an apron – or saw another woman in one. Are you sure you are writing to today’s women?”

The very words, “apron strings,” bring to my mind stay-at-home mothers in the 50s. I can picture my mom spending hours in the kitchen wearing cotton housedresses kept clean for one more day’s wearing by an apron.

And why should I be interested in a book about the connections between mothers and daughters? I have only sons.

I was prepared to be totally unmoved by Vickey’s book. Yet I wasn’t half through when a sweet feeling of peace descended. I may not have any daughters – but I am one!  And so much of what Vickey writes applies to motherhood itself. Several times, as I continued through the book, my eyes glistened with tears.

Remembering Sweet Motherhood Moments

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Our fast-paced, noisy, technology-filled world can sometimes edge out sweet, quiet reflection about what really matters.  Caught up in the daily demands of modern life, we are easily distracted.  Yet something in a woman’s heart always yearns for reminders of tender moments of mother-child closeness.

I love to think of my own mother – who lived in the time of housedresses and aprons. I remember her gentle hand on my forehead when I was sick, her cheerful humming as she worked around the house. I still have in my cedar chest several aprons she lovingly sewed and embroidered for my hope chest when I was a girl. (Most of them are still there – unused, but treasured because they are the work of her hands.)

My mother was one like Vickey’s, who passed on the solid values of loving and cherishing babies, of what it takes to make a house a home, of what it means to love the Lord and trust Him in all things. Passing along those values are what Vickey’s book is all about, symbolized by apron strings. It is about generations of women passing along goodness, insight, love, and faith.

These feelings and thoughts are worth celebrating. Vickey’s soft sentiments are worth revisiting. Mother love is never out of date.

How This Book Came to Be

Vickey has written hundreds of songs and hundreds of columns for online magazines and websites. But she has never published poetry until now. Asked why now, she simply says, “It seemed to write itself – to come right out of my heart and through my fingers. At times, I could not write fast enough. It may not be stellar by poetry standards, but it was a beautiful, sweet, good creative feeling – maybe the one I have enjoyed more than any other.”

Here’s an example of the fruits of Vickey’s joy in writing this book:

The Reason for Apron Strings

Daughter ~

No matter where
 Your life path goes,
Our real connection
Only grows,

For apron strings
Forever tie
My heart to yours
And yours to mine.

Mothers and daughters
Come to learn
That with each other
They will earn

That tender
Allied entity ~
Mother and child,
Eternally

Vickey Pahnke Taylor
2007

At first I thought this book was going to be just too idealistic to be real, but Vickey writes like she talks – with candor, insight, and often with humor. She says her father taught her the important lesson that in a sometimes dark and difficult world, it is a gift to bring humor to any situation possible.

Vickey is sure her children have sometimes thought she is loony because she believes there is a place for being silly and creating a “merry heart.” She feels humor is needed after a difficult day at school, a heartbreak with a friend, or simply “because.”  That resilience and positive attitude are woven throughout the book. Some of her poems about her mother are just plain fun to read, such as

For Caring

I looked to her
For many things.

Scraped knees,
 Family recipes

Somehow she knew
Just what to do
No matter how old I grew.

Mom always had a certain flare
And lots of common sense to share

Little gems, like these:

“Make sure you have clean underwear”
“Look away, it’s not nice to stare”

“Don’t let the gas go
below halfway”
 “It might work better if you tried it
This way”

“Add a pinch of salt”
“Apologize whether or not it’s your fault”

“You catch more bees with honey”
“Save a portion of your hard-earned money”

“It is never good to hear a woman swearing”
“It’s distracting to drive with the radio blaring”

Thanks, Mom, for caring.

Vickey Pahnke Taylor
2007

Between each poem, I found tender essays, full of imagery, full of wisdom, full of hope. Vickey tells of facing life-threatening illness, not once but many times, and how her mother’s faith lifted her own. She only hints at the heartbreak of her divorce and the heart-stretching challenges of step-daughters, but it was enough to shatter my fears that she lived some kind of perfect life that I could never come close to.

As a mother of a grown daughter who is presently dealing with the impending death of her husband, Vickey says she celebrates the love, faith, and strength that her daughter possesses. It is, she reveals, a tender and personal testimony of what women are all about.

Vickey lost her mother a few years ago, and says this book is in honor of her mother and her grandmothers.  Near the end, she shares her poignant feelings when he mother died. Here’s one of the poems:

But Then .

“I’m sorry .”
There are other words
But I,
in my hurt,
Hear nothing more.

I only know
You’ve moved beyond
Earth’s mortal door,
And entered where
I cannot go
Until our Father
Says so.

I weep because
 your body sleeps.

While we are apart
a certain portion
of my heart
Is sleeping, too.

But not to stay –
God made a way –
I know it to be true.

Gone for now
But then –

I will see you
Again.

Vickey Pahnke Taylor
2007

The Panorama of Life

Apron Strings took me back to my growing-up days and helped me remember so many good feelings I had as a child. It helped me pause and ponder over what I am feeling now – as a daughter, a mother, a grandmother. I think it applies to any woman who is in the business of reaching out to others. Vickey’s book includes some wonderful poetry and prose about those who cannot bear children, yet provide mothering to many.  It is a celebration of so many things that matter most to women; it is chock full of feeling and faith. 

Interestingly enough, men enjoy the book too. David A. Christensen says, “Vickey writes from her heart. This volume is full of love – just like its author. Readers will feel a tender connection to the poems & essays included in Apron Strings. It is wonderful!”

Brad Wilcox writes, “I love what Vickey Pahnke Taylor writes because I love Vickey – her sincerity, dedication and goodness shine through in every word.  Through her poetry, music, and teaching, Vickey engages us in magical shared moments when we relate in profound ways. Her honesty and insight allows us to notice what could have been overlooked and to appreciate what matters most.”

All About Vickey Taylor

It was fun to learn more about Vickey as I worked with her. She loves sunrises and sunsets, spending tons of time with her husband, eating M&Ms and Tootsie Rolls, and trying to exercise at least three times a month. I even found out that Vickey is talented at tripping over “nothing” in a driveway, getting green things stuck in her teeth, and even – on one occasion – falling into a  garbage can. (Don’t ask.)

On a more serious note, Vickey studied musical theater at Brigham Young University and has a Masters degree in interpersonal communications. She co-wrote the theme songs for Make a Wish Foundation, Utah Special Olympics and the Especially for Youth programs. For two decades, she has been a sought-after speaker for education week programs, conferences, workshops and school programs. Vickey has served in numerous leadership and teaching positions in the Church and currently teaches Gospel Doctrine.

Vickey feels her most important job is that of wife and mother, and joys in passing along traditions that tie her to generations that preceded her as well as those coming after. She and her husband, Dean, live in the Salt Lake Valley and have a blended family of eight children – five of whom are girls. She greatly appreciates what she has learned from the experiences she gets to share with her four step-daughters, even though they have not lived fulltime in their home.

She and her husband are creating a foundation: its purpose is to create and mentor good works that foster improved physical, emotional, spiritual, and creative well-being (including books, music, visual art, blogs for sharing, and live event programs). A big part of their desire is to offer a creative outlet for children who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses. You may contact her about the foundation at Vickey@goodnessmatters.com

So Many Reasons to Look More Closely 

If you are looking for a book to give as a gift – one that says to a woman, “I really care about you” – this is one to offer at this holiday time. If you are looking for a book of your own – one that speaks to your soul – this is one you will want.

We see lots of books and read lots of words. In this simple volume, beautifully written and beautifully illustrated, we see an offering that is powerful because of its simplicity and heart-touching candor.

Meridian Publishing is happy to offer Apron Strings: Tender Ties Between Mothers and Daughters as its latest release. It is an introspective, uplifting volume of poems and prose that comes straight from Vickey’s heart. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.