Another National Holiday.
Another reason for a candid conversation about one of my most treasured offices. I say one of my offices to the collective gasp of some. I consider all my offices in life an honor and privilege and one I continually find how inept I am to execute without a mad amount of partnership from above and horizontally.
I don’t mean that in some pie in the sky, esoteric, romantic, philosophical way. On the contrary, I share this in absolute honesty that there is simply no way in hell or heaven, I could fulfill any office in life with confidence, excellence and hope without inviting the mind, spirit and heart of the Creator and his infinite son’s mind of which I have to actively ‘put on’ at every instance.
For some, this level of dependence wreaks of weakness. And you’re right. It is. And I’m good with that. Because as my daughter will tell you, I am the single strongest woman she knows. As a matter of fact, most people who encounter me, hear my story, share a conversation with me, will share the same sentiment. But my strength is not my own. It comes from a deep reliance upon a belief in someone much greater than my strongest moments.
I don’t share this to boast. Rather, I boast in the workmanship of the only real strength in the Universe, God. I openly confess my faith because it is who I am not just what I believe. It is the identity I wrap myself in when facing the epic trials of motherhood. And single motherhood to boot. NOT be confused with a sinless existence. I fall short. A lot. -But God.
If I chronicled every lonely, desperate dark night of the soul over the past eighteen years of widowhood, it would leave me ( and you) exhausted. It could leave me feeling sorry for myself or boasting in my own shear determination to raise my daughter well. To defy the death of her father’s ancestors that have attempted to exalt themselves above the truth of Christ to take her out through an untimely generational death – But God.
I purchase a gift for my daughter every year to simply say thank you. I thank her for the gift her existence gives me. In all of her growth, wonder and humanity, I have found my very capacity to love deeper and purer than I ever thought possible. I have indeed been ‘saved’ through childbirth as the Apostle Paul writes. ( not to be confused with the atoning salvation of Christ- relax)
I have found a purpose in life through being entrusted to care for her, train her and love her with all I am. I am not confused that she is my sole purpose. That burden is unnecessary and one many parents strap to their children like a lead weight. She has her own offices to fulfill, daughter is merely one.
I buy her something each year to remind her of her intrinsic value to me and the world around her. It signifies a gratitude for her agreement with life, when death would have seemed easier. Chronic illness has a way of sucking the zeal for life right out of you. It is cruel. My small token of appreciation serves to remind her that I am the lucky one.
I got to be her mother, mommy, mom. I got to read to her every night for 14 years and rock her to sleep even when she outgrew my arms. I got to teach her how to ride a bike and drive a car. I taught her how to clean and cook. How to present herself as a lady, how to climb trees and fish and do everything with wild abandonment.
I got to sit up with her during fevers and pray all night for death to leave her room. I got to defend her honor and protect her when those entrusted with her education failed to cover her and believe the best in her. I got to teach her that shame is not allowed in our home. And guilt is her enemy. I got to love her unconditionally and correct her with wisdom and sobriety. I allowed her to see my failures as an opportunity to learn as she watched the power of redemption.
I am the soft place and the rock
she bumps up against in her effort to find her own identity as a woman. I taught her her worth and the worth of those eluding creatures called boys. I taught her that the girl doesn’t always win the boy in the end and a little compromise goes a long way. ( in the wrong direction)
I taught her to account for her actions and to extend mercy to those around her. I taught her to think for herself and ask questions. To stand when everyone else was sitting. I taught her to believe in someone greater than me, her fragile mother who finds strength from her heavenly Father. I taught her the world is the world and to live in spite of it.
She is MY Mother’s Day gift. And I am hers.
My generations did not afford me the wisdom by which I raised my daughter. No, my faith did. My partner in parenthood was and is the Word of God.
I’ve learned more about myself and my capacity to love not only my child, but myself in 20 years of parenthood. I’ve learned to confess my faults, forgive my short comings and my abject failures. She’s taught me to release my selfish moments and seasons of anger because of the lemons life handed me some days. Many days, I nearly bought the lie that she would simply be better off without me -But God.
For those of you who are tired and weary trying to keep it all together, might I suggest taking a load off and partnering with God and others who can instruct, supp0rt and encourage you through this thing called Motherhood. It does indeed take a village.
You WILL make it to the ‘finish line’
It is an honor to bare the ‘title’ of mother. It is an active existence of self evolution and wild dependence on the ultimate parent, God himself.
You, dear mother, are the pearl who forges her brilliance through the shifting tides of terrifying moments, trophies, fevers, boo boos, first dates and diplomas. You may feel like the most expendable person in your family, but that is a lie. You may feel like the weakest link and as if no one recognizes your efforts, but that’s a lie too. It all matters. Every glance, word, deed. Every hug, every smile, every piece of advice and willingness to listen and share. It all amounts to perpetuating life in the earth. And that’s what YOU do. You bring life to the earth. And we love you for it.
Happy Mother’s Day today and every day.