Thinking back on my life as a child, young adult, and now a middle-aged mother myself, I am indebted to you for the many life lessons you have taught me—some directly, mostly leading by precious example.
If I have any bones to pick with you, it could be that you made it all look so easy. So very, very easy! Marriage, motherhood, working outside the home, relationships with in-laws, relationships with co-workers, relationships with church friends, and just relationships in general. I hardly ever saw you cry. The few times I did see you cry stand out to me as moments of great reflection.
I recall my first big heartbreak. I was in high school. You loved that boy like he was your own son. Yet, when he broke your little girl’s heart, you were too busy holding the pieces of my broken heart, to nurse your own painful wounds. I am sure there were silent tears shed behind closed doors. But your immediate response was to shelter me from the heartache you knew would only intensify with life and forthcoming situations.
You always seemed so strong. So very strong.
You handled life’s bumpy paths with a smile on your face and a tough-love approach that honestly is one of the greatest gifts you have ever given to me. You never seemed overwhelmed, depressed, or like you could scarcely take another moment of another endless day of meeting so many other needs while putting your own last.
I am sure there were times you broke down. You probably didn’t even try to hide it from me. Yet, you did it so gracefully and so normally that I accepted it as simply a part of life. Because come to find out, it is a huge part of life.
Mom, how did you do it all those years? You juggled work and marriage and motherhood. The buck did not stop there. You were (and are) a loving friend, a devoted wife, a loyal daughter and sister, and a faithful Christian woman. You wore so many hats.
It blows my mind how easy you made it all look.
Thinking back to one of the most difficult times I have faced—I call it “The Great Divide,” the divorce I faced in my mid-30s. With two very young sons still very much reliant on both of their parents, we battled it out to separate our homes, yet devise a way to co-parent our sons while both attempting to nurse our own very deep, very personal wounds.
You stood faithfully by my side, when the one person who promised to always be there, chose to walk away. The only possible worse scorn than that of a woman is that of the scorned woman’s mother. Yet, you held your tongue. You held your daughter’s broken heart in one hand, and your love for your precious grandchildren in the other. With a desire so strong to fight a bitter battle, but the wisdom so deeply molded into your heart that you knew keeping the peace was the best course of action.
I don’t think I ever really saw the cracks in that strong, motherly, perfect façade . . . until you lost your own mother. I saw you tearfully sit by her bedside and, despite wanting nothing more than to need her to get you through the greatest heartbreak you had ever known, you selflessly told her to let go. Possibly the two hardest words you have ever said when you wanted so much to hold on.
I cannot even fathom the day when it comes time to let you go.
I refuse to dwell on such a journey, the likes of which I am unequipped to bear. You are my strength, my rock, my consummate cheerleader, and the biggest tough lover I have ever known. You speak truth to me in a way that no one else would ever dare.
I honestly cannot imagine life without you, Mom. Thank you seems such a lowly attempt at the gratitude I feel for the blessed life you have given to me. It was not until I became a mother myself—that full circle of life—that I realized how much behind-the-scenes mothering you did that never met my innocent, naïve, childhood blue eyes, so much like your own.
If you ever question your mothering skills (like I tend to do at least four times a week with my own), please know that you did it right. You didn’t hide so much that I thought life was perfect. Yet, you stayed upbeat and positive, despite the many life trials that came your way. Your faith was strong and your witness was (and is) one of the most beautiful traits about you.
Mom, I am forever indebted to you. For being my mother. For showing me how to be a mother. For speaking the language of love beyond mere words, with actions so pure, so deep, and so true they could only come from one of God’s earthly angels.