Mother’s Day, One Week Later

Just thinking…….

Mother’s Day was a week ago today, and I’m just now getting up the nerve to write about it. My mind fashioned all these words and phrases that I was going to say, and then it fell flat and I chickened out. Mother’s Day is tough for me to write about.

It’s not that I had a bad mom. Far far from that. Mom was a caring down to earth parent who sacrificed mightily for us. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for how she raised me. She is still alive, but going blind and has several health problems. But I’m blessed to still have a mom at my age.

And it’s not that I had a bad mom-in-law. I loved my mom-in-law like my own mom, and never doubted her love and care for me. She gave me the precious gift of my husband, and I am forever grateful that she mothered him as she did.

No, none of that. The mom that scares me is….. me. I look at my mom and my mother-in-law, and think, “I’ll never measure up to them.” Sometimes I think I’m in the running for the worst mother of the year.

Is this common for us moms? Do we doubt outselves, compare ourselves, chastise ourselves for our puny incompetent mothering? Am I alone in this?

I didn’t give birth; I adopted. Right there I felt second rate. All around me were girls and women having baby after baby, and I just cried every month. I couldn’t go to to baby showers for friends because I’d cry. Roe v. Wade made me furious, in part, because I would have loved the chance to carry a baby and couldn’t. Well meaning folks would jokingly ask when we planned to start a family. I would just stare at them and then turn and walk off, crying.

When we received the call that a baby boy was waiting for us to pick up, I got all stuttery. The agency had told us that it would be 5 years at the least before any babies would be available. So we didn’t put a nursery together or accumulate any baby things. I didn’t want to look at those cute little things for 5 years and feel the emptiness. So when the call came after just a year of waiting, we had 4 hours to put it all together and pick up the baby. As we drove to the agency, the Hubs kept hyperventilating, and I kept thinking, “Can I do this? Can I do this? Will I be a good mom?”

When the agency worker put the fat little baby into my arms, the child looked up at me and started to cry. I put him into the Hub’s arms, and the baby cooed and fell asleep. I had just failed my first mommy test.

I was a stay at home mom for the first couple of years. The budget was really tight and I missed the teaching job that I had. My mom had stayed home and raised all of us. Was I bad mom for wanting to teach again? I enjoyed our sweet baby, and we had fun together during those years.

But when a chance came for a job where I could take my 2 year old along, I jumped at it. It was a good deal. My child had playmates at the child care center, and I was just down the the hall. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.

When he was in first grade, I went back to full time teaching. My child and I had the same hours, the same vacations. We were not in the same building, but he was in the same building as the Hubs. I thought, again, that we had a good situation. But teachers keep strange hours. I would come home with hours of papers to grade. So I was at home with our child, but still…………. Mommy guilt again.

Our child was active, not hyperactive, but active. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body, but his impulsiveness would get him into trouble. It wasn’t bad stuff, but things like trying to jump through a fork in a tree…… and miscalculating. He ended up in the emergency room more than once from all those little stunts. Was I a bad mom because he ran full force at life and got hurt? He had a bone tumor that stunted growth of one leg slightly. When he complained of pain, I thought he was just trying to get out of cleaning his room. More guilt….. (extended surgery was successful, by the way, and he was a star track runner in high school, whew….)

Then there were the learning disabilities. I was a teacher, for crying out loud, and I didn’t even see the disabilities. How could I have missed this? Those years of his struggles in school: could it have been better if I had just seen the disability earlier? badmombadmom……

He’s made good choices and bad choices in life. While I take little credit for the good, I shoulder the blame for the bad. Don’t we all make bad choices? Yes, but I should have…..

So for Mother’s Day, I presented my self with a big box of blame and guilt and worries. I wrapped it all with droopy black ribbon and told myself that it was all I deserved. I was a flop of a mother. I had ruined his life. Then he came and hugged me, and gave me bags of wild mushrooms that he had picked and cleaned. And he breaded and fried them, and I feasted on this gift. I looked at his three little children and feasted on that gift.

Yeah, I was a bad mom, no doubt about it. I am tops at looking back and pointing out every mistake that I ever made. Worst mother of the year award? I am standing up and moving forward to receive it. And that’s why it is difficult for me to write about Mother’s Day. I just can’t seem to forgive myself for not being perfect. I have a hard time believing that I really did try to do my best, even when I failed.

Father, I thank You that I didn’t have to be perfect to come to You. Help me accept myself as You accept me. Help to grow in faith and love. Help me to be a better mother and to know that it’s OK to do my best. Amen

To God be the glory……

PS: I wrote this in 2009, but just now getting up the nerve to publish……

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 2:18 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

So Many Deaths…

Just thinking

Carol’s mom. Betty’s mom. Mary Jo’s mom. Gary. Anne’s mom. Marilynn’s mom. Mrs. Forsythe. Marti’s brother in law. The list goes on but these are the most recent. These are people who have recently died with whom I had a connection. I never met some of them; I only knew their daughters in high school, and reconnected via FaceBook. Yet I grieved for them. Perhaps it is because I know that a similar occurance is waiting for me sometime. I am blessed to have my two parents still, and I hope to have them for many more years. Yet I know that time is tenuous and fragile.

One of the people on the list above was my grade school teacher. She was so vibrant and energetic, and in a way, she inspired me to become a teacher. I remember so well how she played the lap-harp, and one day in the future, I finally got one myself. I remember how she didn’t let me weasel out of learning the times-tables. She explained that it was a faster way of adding. I wasn’t really interested in a faster way, thank you anyway. It was good enough for me to just add, and use my fingers if necessary. Just get the numbers over with so that I could get back to reading my book. But she didn’t let me get away with my sloppy thinking. And she even teased my curiousity by showing me all the things that were unique about the 9’s: 9×2 was 18, but 9×9 was 81. And it continued with all the 9’s: they were like mirror images. Boring numbers became a little more fun. She institued trading days, where we could bring things to school and try to trade them with others. Talk about a great economics lesson. She threw herself a birthday party every year, and every year, I got sick and missed school on her birthday. I was willing to go to school with a raging fever and hacking cough, just to go to her birthday party, but no….. I looked into the coffin at the funeral home. She seemed so tiny, and I had remembered her as so big. Rest in Peace, Mrs. Forsythe. You had a profound impact on who I became.

It was a different story with Gary. He was the first boy to whom I ever lost my heart. There had been the crushes before hand, and this was probably just a crush, too. But it was important in a different way. Every girl should have a first love who treats her like a queen, and sets the bar high. That was Gary. I had no way of knowing at that time that our sweet innocent love was setting the foundation of my wonderful permanent love with my husband. Because I was treated with such respect and care by a first boyfriend, I held that as a right with subsequent boyfriends. My last boyfriend, the man I married, is a wonderful husband, who treats me like a queen. Thanks, Gary, for setting the pattern that I came to expect. When I looked into his casket at the funeral home, I did not recognize him. The last time I had seen him was the night before the Hubs and I married. He came by the church, just to say that he saw the wedding announcement in the paper and wanted to wish us well. That was over 3 decades ago, and people change. Rest in Peace, Gary. You had a profound impact on my marriage.

Anne’s mother was a classy lady who always greeted me with such friendliness. I didn’t see her often, but she had a way of making me feel as if I was important. I went to her funeral at the little country church where I had attended as I grew up. The sign in front of the church said that it was established in 1861. When I attended there, it was a one room country church at a gravel crossroads. There was a small cool basement under it, and an outhouse behind it. I remember the windows open in the summer, and the pasteboard fan on lollipop sticks from the local funeral home stuck in the racks along with the hymnals. Now there is an indoor restoom, and a window air conditioner. Nonetheless, I was immediately back in the 1950s as soon as I opened the church door and stepped inside. The wide floorboards still creaked when stepped on in certain places. The same little pews were still lined up with the double aisle. The same organ, pulpit and piano still were in the very same spots. But it was Anne’s mother who was in the casket at the front of the church, and that was the different part. I moved to the front and stared at her. She looked so little, so fragile, not like the strong woman I remembered. Anne came by my side and we hugged. She thanked me for coming to the funeral. I took a seat and listened to the pianist play the old hymns of my childhood. A few words… and then it was over. The ladies of the church had set up a small meal in the basement; would I please attend? I studied their faces and realized that I had known them from decades back. We all re-introduced ourselves. Once again, I was being treated with such friendliness in that little country church. Rest in Peace, Anne’s mom. Your gentle gift of friendliness has left an impact on my life.

I’ve always known that death is part of the cycle of life. Being a farm girl who saw calves and lambs born and who saw the same die taught me that lesson well. And over the years, I knew that my great aunts and uncles, and my grandparents, and my elderly neighbors would die. It was the way of life. But now I am older, and the deaths are getting too close to my generation. It’s harder to be accepting.

Father, I know Your plan of life includes death. I thank You for putting each of these people into my life and for the gift of their lives. Teach me Your ways, that I may accept Your will with grace and dignity. Teach me to live so that my life will also have an impact on others. Amen.

To God be the Glory….

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 1:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Hallelujah! Sing It Again, Sam!

Just Thinking…..

A young friend sent me a link to a video, with a note saying that he thought I would enjoy it. He was right; I enjoyed it. Opera Company of Philadelphia “Hallelujah!” Random Act of Culture

Another friend sent me another link to something similar: “Christmas Food Court Flashmob, Hallelujah Chorus – Must See!”

Both are on YouTube, but I fear that I don’t know how to link!! But do look at them and then keep on reading….

In the first one, about 600 members of the Philadelphia Opera Company gathered at a Macy’s, mingled with the holiday shoppers, and then suddenly burst into the “Hallelujah Chorus”. Shoppers jumped at the sound of someone next to them singing. Folks looked up, straining to see the source. Some whipped out cameras. They nudged each other, pointed out the singers.

And then… they began to join in. Teens stopped in their tracks and began to sing. One woman who was browsing clothing lifted her hands in praise. Those who looked a little down in their luck as well as those looked comfortably rich, young and old, joined the majestic chorus. One father holding his child on his shoulders suddenly began to lift his child in rhythm to the “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” Holiday frowns and furrows gave way to smiles. The transformation was awesome. And it was especially awesome, given the ironic backdrop of materialism. The Messiah came, with no warning, into such a world 2000 years ago.

Oh, there had been signs and prophecies. But those everyday folks who lived on the edge of that Old Testament/New Testament world probably paid little attention. As it was in the dys of Noah, they were living out their everyday lives: watching sheep, paying taxes, keeping up the inn. Then BOOM! Hallelujah!!

Out of seemingly nowhere, the skies opened with a burst of hallelujahs. If I were a shepherd, I would have gasped and fallen on my face. I would have pinched myself to see if I was still living in my skin. I’m sure my jaw would have fallen open, and my breath would have been ragged.

I believe that the Messiah is coming again, and again it will be with no warning: a surprise. I have no idea of how it will work. Will everyone, believers and non, note the Coming? Will it be silent and swift, or filled with powerful sound? If non-believers see it happening, will there be “logical, reasonable” explanation for the disappearance of believers? Will somehow, miraculously, all records of believers ever existing on earth be erased, and no memory of them remain? It doesn’t matter that I don’t know. What matters is that I believe it will happen and that I am prepared.

Take a look at the links (and again I apologize for not knowing how to actually put a link on here….. help?) Then imagine that it is the real Messiah, not just a musical production. Imagine all those folks seeing clearly that the Messiah is real, that He has come. Will they join in with “Hallelujahs” or walk out cursing? Will they explain it away or embrace it?

I loved these videos. And I can only imagine ……. Come, Lord Jesus!

To God be the glory…

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 4:52 am  Leave a Comment