‘His mother continued to store these memories like treasures in her heart’ –Luke 2:51.
Last year, I celebrated all women on Mother’s Day. This year, I want to celebrate my own life. Jud and I have successfully raised 3 semi-adult children (well, more successfully than not). ‘Proud’ doesn’t fully express how I feel about their burgeoning independent lives. They all have awe-inspiring stories that involve growth-inducing challenges and, most importantly, live out their lives before God and others with compassion, grace and wisdom-in-the-making.
When I entered college, I didn’t expect to get married at the end of 4 years. I had dreams of writing the ‘Great American Novel’ and taking the publishing industry by storm! When Jud and I got married 3 weeks after I graduated, I knew a career in publishing was no longer an option; but I believed the novel was still in my sights. I found, as the years moved on, that writing fiction didn’t enflame my writing passion like it had in high school and college. So, I put writing aside and focussed on giving my children a stable, nurturing home while we lived the constantly changing military life. Some would say that I ‘lost’ myself in those years. I may have said that a time or two. Looking back, I see a different perspective.
What I ‘sacrificed’ in those years led to relationships with my children that swell my heart and soul. I’ve often said that as a parent, I’m constantly working myself out of a job. I’m not the typical stay-at-home-mom who baked cookies, sewed costumes and made crafts. Goodwill provided excellent costumes for most of the dress-up days elementary school years demanded. I kept a craft box filled with old cards, glue guns and glue sticks, felt, sparkly glitter, stickers, pipe cleaners and anything else that caught my eye when I was at the store. When my kids cried boredom, we brought out the box and they created masterpieces. We watched old movies–especially MGM musicals–and the Doughnut Man videos while the floors dried after mopping. We had picnics and beach trips. I remember every new place we moved, the kids would ask, “Mommy, are we going to get ‘lost’ today?” Which meant we would drive around unfamiliar neighborhoods and figure out how to get home. Usually those trips involved milkshakes…. And we read stories and books. I miss reading out loud with them. Of course we sang, too. With the singing came impromptu dancing … Then the laughing would start … Till our stomachs hurt. I miss those times too.
All the carpooling with cross country teams, track teams, club meetings created space for us to share lives. It’s hard to have ‘quality’ time without quantity of time. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow, mature and become more independent. I continue to remember them as young children and wax nostalgic when I see them all grown-up; but the nostalgia can’t overshadow the joy that my job is changing in their lives. This Mother’s Day is my last with a child in high school. In a couple of weeks as he walks the stage to get his diploma, I will have graduated high school four times in my life. An end of an era. All of my children will officially be ‘adult.’ Gone are the days of homemade cards, dollar-store or garage-sale treasured presents, and expectantly hope-filled eyes looking for praise. I’ll never stop being ‘Mom’ to them; but that relationship doesn’t mean what it once did all those years ago when I snuggled them, sang and read to them and spoon-fed them.
So today, I celebrate Em, J and Jon because they made me able to celebrate Mother’s Day. I celebrate the blood, sweat and tears that went into creating who they are and how they transform in the future. I may shed a tear or two as their lives persistently move away from mine; however, I know they remain in my heart and I in theirs. And I know we’ve built relationships that will continue to bring them back home. They know both their parents love them wholly and are on their side. They know I will always be their ‘Mama.’
And they like my cooking….
I’d love to hear from you! You don’t have to be a parent to influence young lives. How have your views on parenthood changed through the years? What are some of your joys/sorrows in watching little ones grow up?