42 years ago today, March 7th, my mom celebrated her first birthday as a mother. She had given birth to me only 4 months before and she told me many times how happy she was to be a mom. She stayed home with me playing dress up and generally doting on me all day. I was raised in a peaceful and comforting home. She gave me boundaries and yet made me feel like a princess. She even sewed matching princess clothes for me and my dolls, spending hours upon hours playing pretend with me and teaching me to use my imagination. She invested her time and wisdom into my life, with a generous helping of love.
When I was 2 she told me about Jesus and how He died for me. I cried. We prayed and she led me to the cross so I could ask Him into my heart. From then on she told me Bible stories, sometimes even with flannel pictures, so I would understand the life I had chosen that day. Each time I matured enough to comprehend a deeper level of my Christian walk she directed me back to the cross so I could dedicate my heart to Him in a more profound way. Several years in a row she hosted a vacation Bible school in our backyard so she could teach the kids in our neighborhood about Jesus too. She was and is passionate about sharing Christ with anyone in her circle of influence.
She made sacrifices throughout the years like all the best moms do. She chose me, my brother and sister over herself many times. She went without her favorite things so we could have what we needed or wanted. I remember not being very thankful at times and looking back I wish I had made more of an effort to show gratitude. When I was about 15 she bought me several beautiful shirts. I remember one had geometric shapes that were red, black and white; it was totally the 80’s! I washed them but didn’t dry them right away because I was too lazy to complete the job and they were ruined. I remember her being upset about it and I was pretty nonchalant about the wasted money, as if it grew on trees or something. Today, I get a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach just thinking about it because I know the value of money now and I can put myself in her shoes.
When I was 18 and my angst was in full bloom she loved me and prayed for me. When I packed up my stuff and moved out in a huff she told me she loved me anyway. When I called her from my mattress on the floor of a friend’s apartment, sick as a dog with strep throat, she picked me up and took me to the doctor. And she didn’t lash out at me when I pride-fully refused her offer to come home and recuperate instead insisting that she take me back to my mattress on the floor. *embarrassed sigh* She just dropped me off and prayed for me harder. When I did finally come to my senses weeks later she welcomed me home, led me back to the cross and lived out the humbling beauty of forgiveness.
I am a mom now too, my boys are 16 and 18. I know how it feels to make sacrifices and to pour out an extra helping of love even when it’s hard. I have often heard my mother’s words come out of my mouth and said a quick “thank you” to God that I have her example to follow. Early in my journey of motherhood I didn’t always feel that way, I wanted to cut my own path and do things my own way. It’s said to be the “normal” course of mother/daughter relationships since the dawn of time, although nowadays I am not sure why. At least in my case, she was such a devoted mom! She wasn’t perfect; she made mistakes like we all do. But without question I know she loves me completely and I missed out on some years learning from her that I wish I could get back.
Worst of all, I know that I made her feel bad and wonder if she had been a good mom to me which makes me so sad. Motherhood is hard enough with all the “mommy-shaming” we face externally and internally but when your precious child makes you doubt yourself…well, I think it’s one of the hardest challenges of being a mom. We spend a lot of time asking ourselves, “am I doing this parenting thing right or am I really ruining my kid’s life?” It may be a natural phase of life between mothers and daughters but I deeply regret the times I made her question herself and I am so very grateful to have been able to apologize to her before it is too late. I am thankful that we are now friends and can do life together, enjoying each other’s company. I count on her for advice and call her when I am facing challenges or victories. I am counting on her now as I step into an unexpected phase of life.
You see, today is her birthday and 2 days from now I will find out if I am going to have a daughter. She would be the fulfillment of a three year old divine promise and a child I have prayed for all that time. There will be a meeting between people I have never met, and probably never will, and some others who I met only last week. They will talk about my family and about a sweet 10 year old girl with freckles who needs a family. Their discussion will determine if we are a match and if so I will start a mother/daughter relationship with a child I did not give birth to and whose face I have not seen in person. I will begin the process of mothering her without fully understanding the places in her heart that have been broken already. This precious child will introduce me to the other side of the mother/daughter relationship and I won’t lie to you and say I have no concerns about my qualifications for the role.
But I know that if I can do it half as well as my mom did, we will have an excellent chance.
My prayer is that I will have the strength to give my daughter what my mom gave me:
- A home that is full of peace and comfort.
- Boundaries and royal treatment.
- She taught me to play and use my imagination.
- She gave me the investment of her time and wisdom.
- She poured out her love every day by the bucketful with no regrets.
- She went before God and prayed for me often.
- She spoke the truth of the Bible, God’s word, over me even when I was “too immature” to understand.
- She led me to the cross for salvation and forgiveness
- She demonstrated forgiveness in our relationship even when I was ungrateful, wasteful and prideful!
- She willingly taught me how to love my husband and children even when I was too foolish to pay attention.
- She kept teaching me trusting God that I could hear her even when I wasn’t listening.
Thank you Mom for choosing to give of yourself and provide these things year after year. Thank you for seeing the big picture, Christ’s divine plan, and making that more important than your feelings when I hurt them. Thank you for making Christ the center of our world when it would have been much easier not to.
Thank you for being an example of motherhood that is worthy of following.
I love you so much.
Happy Birthday Mom!!!
*When I think of my mom I often see the painting by Michael Dudash that my Dad bought her a few years ago, he thought it was a beautiful depiction of how she lives her life, he was right. It is called “He Shall Hear My Voice”.