Tag Archives: mothers day

A Mother’s Legacy

My mother passed on to her eternal home in 1994. She’s been gone twenty three years now and in many ways I’m happy for her. A strange thing to say? Maybe? But most of what I remember about my mother was the difficulties she endured.Mom

Shortly after I was born, she had a complete and devastating nervous breakdown and was committed to Willard State Psychiatric Hospital in upstate New York for several years. Over my lifetime, I’ve heard bits and pieces of family speculation and attempted to piece ambiguous information together, but I still don’t really know why. These things were not discussed openly by previous generations as they are now.

My older brother went into foster care and I was shuffled around between grandparents and a few aunts and uncles before finally landing with a family down the street who had five kids of their own. They took me in and it was because of them and out of desperation to see his family reunited, that my Dad had his come to Jesus experience. Though our family life was imperfect, and at times dysfunctional, I was raised with a foundation of Bible, church and a solid belief in God that later became an anchor for my own life storms.

When Mom finally came home from Willard, she wasn’t the same, at least that’s what I was told. I don’t remember her to be anything other. She was just Mom. She was somewhat timid, emotionally fragile and often fearful, yet I knew she loved me, though I have no memory of her ever saying so.

She was a cigarette addict (wasn’t everyone in the 50’s?), married to a hard-working, sometimes overbearing and exacting man, she never learned to drive and developed rheumatoid arthritis sometime in her thirties. I would come home from school to find her sobbing on the sofa, a knee or wrist so painfully red and swollen she couldn’t function. Mom never went to a doctor and never took anything for the pain but aspirin, which does nothing to alleviate any of RA’s symptoms, as I would later discover for myself.

I remember her walking me to kindergarten and later, on days I walked home from elementary school for lunch, there was usually a grilled cheese sandwich and hot Campbells soup waiting on the small table in the corner of the kitchen. On days she felt better, she’d be in the kitchen cooking meals or doing endless loads of wash and hanging heavy, wet clothes on the rope stretched between the shed and the sour cherry tree in our backyard.

Because she didn’t drive, I’d sometimes ride my pink, banana-seat bike two miles to the corner store, with a note giving me permission to purchase a pack of cigarettes. An extra nickel or dime would buy me some penny candy, then I’d happily pedal back home. On hot summer days, she’d occasionally hand me a dime, and I’d dash to the curb for a cherry snow cone from Mr. Frosty’s truck.

Somewhere toward the close of her fiftieth decade, RA got the best of her. She couldn’t walk anymore. With the cushioning cartilage and synovial fluid in her knees gone, the joints fused and locked in place. She finally had wheels of her own – a wheelchair – and Dad became her caregiver. Several years passed before he couldn’t lift her anymore. At age sixty she went to live in a nursing home and at sixty-two she died of cancer. Unfortunate for us, but fortunately for Mom, only in that her wheelchair, pain and emotional suffering stayed behind when she left this earth.

What I remember most about my mom? She was always there for her family and rarely complained. She didn’t whine, claim entitlement or victim-hood. With no social media on which to unveil every detail of her life and in the oblivion of my youth, I gave little thought to the difficulties she faced. It wasn’t until I developed rheumatoid arthritis in my mid-twenties and had a family of my own that I came to appreciate my mother’s perseverance.

I wonder what dreams she had as a young girl and if she ever felt slighted because her life didn’t go as planned. Like so many mothers, she did the best she could under difficult circumstances and well into my adult years, I realized a simple truth; parents are human too and perfected people are non-existent. A sure mark of maturity is realizing this and forgiving ours for being flawed and possibly less than we hoped for.

Maybe ingrained deep within my DNA, is a measure of my mother’s endurance; an assistant in carrying me through life, as it did her. Someday I will tell her how grateful I am for the legacy she left me.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

 

Will the Jon Moms Please Stand Up

This year, as the calendar would have it, I experience Jon’s birthday and Mother’s Day just a few days apart.

Jon’s birthday never goes as (we) planned. We wanted to take him out, he didn’t want to go. We had cake, balloons and gifts ready at 11am, he stayed in his room until 7:30 pm. He wouldn’t let us sing “Happy Birthday” to him, he wanted to play “Bad Moon Rising” on YouTube instead (??!!).Jon 36 birthday

The candles had to burn all the way down to wax craters inside the top of the cake before he’d blow them out. Mike waited up until 11:30 for gift opening to commence and couldn’t last any longer. He went to bed and gifts were finally completed at 12:45 am, with me falling asleep on the sofa. Jon was just getting started.

He’s thirty-six now. I’m not really ‘raising’ him anymore. Those days are over and he sorta’ does what he wants around here. But I’m not really done parenting him either or maybe it’s more of an advisory enforcer role, reminding him to shower, shave, take his meds, not wander away and to quit hijacking kitchen utensils he doesn’t use and bills from the desk drawer, he’ll never pay.

I drag him to doctor and dentist appointments and talk him into getting a haircut whenever he starts getting the caveman look.

We’re caught in a weird time warp somewhere between unreasonable toddler, love-able kid,  ornery teenager and grumpy old man. It all depends on the day or maybe the hour. There’s no category for that I suppose.

Then I went to an awesome mother’s lunch yesterday and it got me wondering what Mom category I fit into. The mom with the most kids, the most grandkids, the most great-grands, the oldest, the youngest, the newest, the singles and the all-done-empty-nesters were acknowledged and asked to stand.

Jon Me IHOP 11-2015I was confused. I’m sorta’ that one, but not really. I’m half the other one but not sure if half counts. So I stayed seated. Not that it matters much. Standing or sitting, I’m still two guy’s mom and happy for it.

I realize Mother’s Day isn’t perfect for some of us. Some have loss, rebellion, prison, prodigal, estrangement, medically fragile and unusual when it comes to kids and some who want children never have them. Life throws reality at us and we mourn, cry, kick and scream for a while then get up and keep going.

God keeps us strong in all of it. We are HIS daughters, whether we have twenty kids or none, typical kids or not. He doesn’t categorize or compare. We are just loved, valued and precious to Him.

So here’s a shout out to all God’s daughters. Whatever earth bound category you fall into (or not) may you know He delights in YOU today.

YOU are the blessed of the Lord.

YOU are the Apple of His Eye.

And YOU are His favorite (after me of course :).

Happy Mother’s Day!

Psalm 115:14-15 “May the Lord continue to bless you and your children. You will be blessed by the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you..”

 

The Memory Keeper

cherrios copyJon’s fine motor skills developed slowly as a child. At 18 months old, one of the recommended therapies of the early intervention program he attended was picking up Cheerios from his high chair tray to help him strengthen his pincher grasp. He struggled getting his little thumb and forefinger to work together.

Cheerios accompanied us everywhere. He practiced eating them off the church pew during services, in the car from a cup, in high chairs at restaurants. I became obsessed with helping him learn to pick up those little O’s and get them in his mouth and admit there were days I was sad or frustrated, sometimes both, that it was taking him so long to do what other babies did naturally.

When David was 18 months old, he toddled to the cabinet in the kitchen where the cereal boxes were kept, opened the new Sam’s Club size box of Cheerios and dumped its entire contents over his head. I found him sitting in the pile on the floor stuffing Cheerios in his mouth so fast you’d think he’d not been fed for three days. I remember being a bit annoyed as I cleaned the mess up and washed Cheerio dust out of his hair.

As much as my boys were different, in other ways they were the same.

Jon made a trip to the pediatrician somewhere between the age of 4 or 5 because he had a pea stuck up his nose. Obviously picking up all those Cheerios taught him the fine motor skills he needed to get a pea from his plate to the inside of his tiny nostril.

David, at the age of four or five, arrived at the pediatrician’s office with a piece of styrofoam stuck in his ear.

I remember being exasperated with each of them both times.

As I think back on this Mothers’ Day, I realize, some of the most frustrating moments of raising children are now some of my fondest memories. Time has a way of softening the drama and exhaustion of motherhood.

Time also has an uncanny way of changing everything.

What was then an inconvenience and annoyance to my younger and impatient self is now a treasure stored in the safe box of my heart.

Having and raising kids is an adventure like no other and we all have the same gift of time to experience our children’s remarkable growth process.

Jon can raid the panty and fridge on his own now and has no problem putting large amounts of food in his mouth on any given day. David doesn’t stick styrofoam in his ears anymore but knows how to install it inside the walls of a house to keep the heat and cold out.

Moms, if you still have young ones, I’d like to tell you, in the everyday exhaustion and insanity of mothering, don’t freak out over the little things; but then I would be robbing you of some of the best memories to hold on to when your kids are grown.

Just know this: if that thing they’re doing frustrates you today, thirty years from now you’ll probably think of it and smile.

Time is precious.

Time is fleeting.

Time is a memory keeper.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

What Mom’s Really Want – After Mother’s Day Thoughts

I arrived home from church yesterday, after a wonderful service themed around honoring mothers. My breakfast nook was bright with a beautiful medley of flowering plants in a pretty container-a gift from my husband.

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A dozen red roses adorned my kitchen counter, a striking orchid was on display in the middle of the kitchen island, and my pantry was stocked with more tea flavors to add to my already ridiculous collection-a gift mailed to me from my youngest son and daughter-in-law;  signs that I’m not forgotten on Mother’s Day.

After Jon’s caregiver left, I knocked lightly on his bedroom door and peeked in. “Hi Jon, how ya’ doing dude? We just got home from church.”

He didn’t respond or look up.

“Do you remember today is Mother’s Day? How would you like to take me out for lunch today? I’d like to spend the day with you and Dad and I’m hungry. Are you?” I smiled even though he wasn’t looking at me.

Jon’s face turned to a scowl, the one that could mean in this moment, ‘don’t bug me’, ‘I don’t want to go’, ‘get out of my room’ or something similar. But I know him well enough to realize he could change his mind if I  leave him alone for a while.

“Ok then, you think about it,” I said optimistically, “and come out when you’re ready but don’t take too long because Dad and I are hungry now. If you wait too long it will be too late to go,”

I shut the door and hoped.

Thirty minutes later I asked again and was met with the same response.

As the afternoon went by I realized his closed door was a “No” answer so I put a pizza in the oven, made a salad and Mike and I ate a late lunch.

I talked to a mom over the weekend whose only child is serving prison time. She tearfully told me how she raised him right, taught him morals, values and to put God first in life. She wanted him, loved him, worked hard to put him through private school and college and did everything she knew to be a good mom. But he grew up, made some poor choices and now both of them are living with those painful consequences.

As she poured out her heart, my own broke for her. I began thinking how this mothering thing doesn’t always turn out the way we want or imagine.

What we really want and need from our kids, is the same thing they want and need, as children, from us. We want them. Their time, their presence in our lives, their love and maybe more so after they’ve become adults. Maybe as our kids need us less, we need them more. We want hugs, big ones, real ones, not those sent over distance, Facebook posts or text messages (though I’ll gladly take those if that’s all I can get).

I appreciate the gifts, flowers, chocolate, tea and dinners but my deepest longing is to know, I’m not forgotten and my kids still love me – their flawed, mistake laden and very human mother.

2Instead, some moms get a son in prison, a child passed away too soon, a miscarriage or infertility, a daughter who is estranged from them or a child like mine, who doesn’t know how to express himself clearly. And for these moms, Mother’s Day and everyday comes mixed with a bit of sadness.

Jon finally came out of his room long after the sun went down. I was relaxing in the family room in my favorite chair reading and drinking a cup of my gift tea. He found his dinner in the fridge and scavenged around in the pantry looking for snacks. Then he came next to my chair and stood there, his eyes flitting back and forth from the floor to my face.

I looked up and smiled. He smiled back then began singing an enthusiastic version of some Disney song while playing his ‘air’ guitar. He stayed near me smiling and singing nearly twenty minutes, glancing my way constantly to see if I was watching him.

I knew what that meant. “I see you Mom and this is what I have to give you on Mother’s Day. It’s the best I can do. I hope it’s enough.”

What I really want from him, he can’t give me. What I need from him, he still needs from me; to be recognized, acknowledged, affirmed and loved exactly for who he is.

There are no hugs, no sentimental cards, texts, Facebook posts, I love you’s or gifts from Jon on Mother’s Day but I receive with a little sadness and a lot of thankfulness the very best he can give me. A silly Disney song that says, “I know you’re still here.”

My oldest son didn’t take me out to lunch and my youngest son lives too far away and couldn’t be here but I know I am loved, even when life doesn’t play out exactly the way I hope, even when I wish for more.

So for all the mothers whose special day tends toward a measure of disappointment…

You are strong. You are resilient. You are amazing.

Contentment is learning to accept what is and finding peace inside it.

I pray you find God’s peace and unexplainable contentment in all of your unique, painful and incredible mothering moments.

 

It Takes a Mom

basket

In John chapter six, the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand at some remote place along the Sea of Galilee, we find the five barley loaves and two fish Jesus ‘borrowed’ belonged to a child.

Of the five thousand men plus some women and children who showed up in the middle of nowhere to check Jesus out, didn’t anyone else think to bring food or was this boy the only one in the crowd willing to share what he had?

Then another question comes to mind. Who packed his lunch?

My guess? His mom.

It was probably another busy day. Bread to be made. Water to be drawn. Mouths to be fed. So much work to be done. But she packed her boy’s lunch and as Jesus took it, blessed it and miraculously fed a multitude, I doubt this kid was ever the same.

Jesus touched his lunch and his life.

The story doesn’t tell us who took the twelve leftover baskets home. But I bet it was the little boy and his family. Mom had no idea what would come back to her later that day.

They had food enough for a week, bread and fish touched and blessed by Jesus, the best leftovers ever, all because a mom got up in the morning and packed her kid’s lunch. Again.

Mom, are you’re bored with the ordinary tasks of your daily life thinking they or you don’t matter? Another meal to cook, another diaper to change, another load of laundry, another floor to sweep, another lunch to pack, another drive to school and another trip to the ball field equate to greatness when Jesus is in the midst of it.

He will take your small, mundane and seemingly insignificant efforts, bless them and multiply them back to you and your family.tired-mom

The repetitiveness of mothering will multiply, day after day and year after year, until your children are grown and beyond. Every little thing you pour out and into them, comes back to you in exponential ways.


So get up today, tomorrow and the next day and do it again ’cause it takes a Mom to pack a lunch Jesus delights in sharing with others.

John 6:1-13 After this, Jesus went to the farther side of the Sea of Galilee—that is, the Sea of Tiberias. And a great crowd was following Him because they had seen the miracles which He performed upon those who were sick. And Jesus walked up the mountainside and sat down there with His disciples. Jesus looked up then, and seeing that a vast multitude was coming toward Him, He said to Philip, Where are we to buy bread, so that all these people may eat? But He said this to test him, for He well knew what He was about to do. Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennies’ worth of bread is not enough that everyone may receive even a little.  Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, There is a little boy here, who has five barley loaves, and two small fish; but what are they among so many people?  Jesus said, Make all the people sit down. Now the ground was covered with thick grass at the spot, so the men threw themselves down, about 5,000 in number.  Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples and the disciples to the reclining people; so also with the fish, as much as they wanted.  When they had all had enough, He said to His disciples, Gather up now the fragments, so that nothing may be lost and wasted.  So accordingly they gathered them up, and they filled twelve baskets with fragments left over by those who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

Special Forces Moms

Mother’s Day is set aside to honor the women in our lives who birth us, adopt us, nurture, protect and empower us, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health. They do it because they love us. They do it because it’s what moms do.

This Mother’s Day, I want to give a shout out to a specific category of moms; the Navy Seals and Green Berets of mother troops, those who were most likely drafted into a line of duty they didn’t sign up for or expect, those who are in continuous boot camp and on the job training, secretly wondering if they’re qualified to carry out their mission.  Mothers of children born with disabilities and/or critical medical conditions – the “Special Moms”.

No question that a mom loves her special kid, like a mama bear loves her cub, and once that child is permanently entangled in her heart she wouldn’t trade him/her for anything. She may have moments when she wishes her child wasn’t so ill or limited or challenging. She might have days when she prays for less stress, worry and exhaustion. She could have fleeting dreams of packing a bag and running far away, farther than Calgon could ever take her, but she doesn’t, because she knows she has been given a job to do, a unique assignment that could possibly end sooner than her broken heart can imagine or last a lifetime, with no leave of absence in sight.

Once she comprehends the blessing hidden in the uniquely wrapped treasure that is her child, the special mom gains wisdom beyond measure and learns the importance of letting go and clinging to Jesus. She matures with understanding of mysteries others are not privileged to recognize or appreciate.  In this brief pilgrimage through life with her child, she begins to shine like the jewel God created her to be: cut, polished and beautiful.

So here’s some well deserved kudos to all the overtime moms, those who ever have or are dispensing endless care and love for a very unique kid; some, long past the point of when full time mothering should end. You know who are.  You know what you do and so does God. He has sufficient wisdom, grace and endurance when the task is more than you can bear, when you feel overwhelmed and obscure. He promises His strength and grace willbe perfected in both your own and your child’s weakness and frailty. Throughout a lifetime bursting with significant things to be done, every small detail you attend to, every sacrifice and sleepless night matters.

Special Forces Moms everywhere – thanks for the remarkable job you do. I pray you are infused with extra peace, joy, strength and blessed with a few quiet moments to relax, catch your breath and contemplate how important and amazing you really are, to your special needs child of course (whether he discerns it or not), to your family, but most of all to God.

Look up and be aware of God’s delight as you persevere in the unusual assignment you’ve been given. Allow the warmth of His smile to shine into the depths of your weary soul. Soak in His unending love and be revived as the power of Christ rests upon you.

HOOAH! and Happy Mother’s Day! :)

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.