So many "firsts".
When you lose someone you love, you are told the year of "firsts" will be hard. There is so much truth in that.
This is the first Mother's Day without my mom.
The loss is more palpable today than it was the day she died.
In the spirit of my gracious and kind mother, however, it does not feel right to dwell on the loss. Instead, I remember the gifts she gave me, and the wisdom and love she imparted to me. Perhaps that could be one of the lessons from my mother - to search for the beauty and love of God in all things?
The "Back Story"
God's ways are mysterious and beautiful; people often refer to them as "coincidence".
I don't believe in coincidence, but I do believe in a God who loves us and designs ALL of life's circumstances for our ultimate good.
Last winter I traveled to spend several days with my dad. I helped him clean out a few more of my mom's things - and in those was a book tucked behind many other books. This book turned out to be a precious God wink. I even will go far as to say my mom led me to that book.
I spent a lot of time in between helping my dad and going through her things just soaking up Gift From The Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
As I read I began to draw a multitude of parallels between the gifts from the sea and the gifts my mother had given me. I spent much of that week sitting by the pool with tears streaming down my face.
There can be so much beauty in the hard.
I could give you many more than 5 lessons, but these are what stick out most prominently to me now.
Have Patience in All Things
My mom had the patience of a saint. When I was a child she spoke to me about patience so often, and I remember her reinforcing that to me as an adult.
That patience was especially important when I became a mother - especially the mother of a toddler who tested my limits! My mother always had a very calm way of reassuring me that patience would win out.
When a hysterical, screaming little girl wasn't getting her way I remember my mom saying to me, "Stick to your guns. Put her in her room and don't let her come out until she has calmed down. She might cry so hard she will make herself sick, but she has to learn to have patience."
Not only did my three-year-old begin to learn patience, her mama got to practice patience as well.
A Woman CANNOT Do Everything
My mother raised her girls to be independent, capable, and strong. She saw each of us through college, motherhood, and careers, yet she also made it quite clear to me that I could not have it ALL.
I was under no illusion that I could be the kind of mother my children deserved AND serve my own need for a career as well.
When I decided to go back to work after the birth of my first child she told me bluntly how she disagreed, and then she supported my decision (because this is what she always did - no matter my choices she would tell me her opinion and then support me).
My mother created a home for us that was peaceful and calm, with plenty of time to be quiet and appreciate things of beauty.
We ate dinners together often. We fed our creative selves. I don't ever recall life being frenzied or scattered.
As far as the working and raising children issue, I see now that giving up my job was the best decision I ever made. Eventually, as my children grew and life changed, I was able to pursue my "career" and do more than I ever imagined possible.
This goes back to PATIENCE.
Being a Homemaker is a Noble and Worthy Calling
My mother made child rearing an art. It was her calling and her joy. She was first and foremost a wife and mother.
I always knew FAMILY was her life's mission.
I'm not so sure many young women get that gift in this day and age.
My mother always complimented me on the work I was doing with my family. She sent me cards on Mother's Day.
I knew that mothering and homemaking MATTERED.
I pray that my own daughter knows that if God calls her to that life, it is THE noblest profession of all.
With Age Comes Wisdom
My mother never fretted about aging. She accepted each pound, wrinkle, and setback with grace.
She invested in older women in our church and stressed to me the importance of them in our lives.
My mom taught me that there is something beautiful that comes with each stage of life, and not to be fooled by a society that seems to only value youthfulness and beauty.
Each stage of our lives holds something extraordinary, but if we are too busy wishing for the previous season we will likely miss the beauty in front of us.
My mom embraced the beauty in every stage of her life. I pray I am doing the same.
You Are Stronger Than You Know
After my second child was born I had a horrible struggle with postpartum depression. This depression was so foreign to me, but in the years to come it would rear its head several more times.
The first couple of times my mom came to the rescue... staying with our family, helping care for my children, literally forcing me out of bed in the morning.
She would always leave, however, before I wanted her to. She gave me the tools to get better and promised me I could succeed on my own - and always with God's help. Through these times I learned I had a strength I didn't know I possessed.
I learned I could handle tough things - very tough things.
When my mom's death came I didn't crumble. I would like to think I made it through those dark days with grace and faith - and often times a smile.
The Gift From The Sea is one of treasured possessions now. (In fact, it sparked a bit of an obsession about Anne Morrow Lindbergh - a fascinating figure if you get a chance to learn more about her.)
Knowing that my mom read the same words and lived by so many of them gives me such comfort.
I do not take lightly the gift of a wonderful mother. I know not everyone has had this experience, and I count myself blessed to have been loved by my mother.