On a special Sunday in May, many countries celebrate moms. I miss mine. Her legacy lingers long in the lives of her children, grandchildren, and beyond. She taught me to sit up straight and stand up to bullies. Through her example, I learned to walk with dignity and a sense of purpose.
But when my body didn’t cooperate with my motherhood wishes, the fragile part of my journey began. I recall times when Mother’s Day was bittersweet. Gratitude filled my heart for my own mother while grief reminded me of my unfulfilled dream.
After many years and much grace, I became a mom. The gift of our son was worth the wait. But the fierce part of my journey began. Each phase of my child’s life seemingly revealed my desire to safeguard his well-being. But it also involved trudging through tough lessons when things didn’t go as well as we hoped.
Where are you on your parenting journey, in the fierce or fragile part? We may feel a combination of both. Children can melt a parent’s heart with their smile. But life can come at us hard, or a child can break our hearts with their choices.
Yet all the while, I sense a mantra hardwired into me: Never give up on who a child can become but love them for who they are right now. As I talk with other moms, many of us learn workarounds for what gets us down or causes us to lose sleep over our child’s latest dilemmas. Wiping noses and spills or serving as cab driver and counselor goes on for years. But if there was a job description written for mothers, I think this quote is a good place to start:
“God knows that a mother needs fortitude and courage and tolerance and flexibility and patience and firmness and nearly every other brave aspect of the human soul.” ― Phyllis McGinley
That’s quite a list Ms. McGinley. Having fortitude, courage, tolerance, flexibility, patience, and firmness can overwhelm us in motherhood’s call. But it’s comforting to know God is with us when “every other brave aspect of the human soul is needed”—whether we’re dropping a child off at daycare or at college for the first time.
As mamas, we quickly learn we don’t get to choose what invades our children’s space or how they will respond. So we pray for our children’s character and for their safety, their friendships, and their futures. As little minds grow, we search for what’s best for their development. As my adult child blossoms, I’m learning to grow into my next phase of parenting. It requires me to release how he lives out his own fierce and fragile journey, while I still cling to God’s promises.
And yet, a mother’s fierce and fragile heart remains.
We also remain tasked with communicating and coordinating our parenting efforts with our children’s fathers. They have their own unique journeys. But as I navigate my journey, I’ve learned to get help from reliable resources. This includes other moms familiar with my struggles and trained professionals, who are adept at what they do. But with each step, I continue to learn more about trusting God with His plan for my son.
I grow as I remember I’m still summoning the courage and confidence to be who I am each day. Just like my own path of discovery, my son’s steps will not be perfect but I believe God will be with him every step of the way. So, I cheer my son on. I keep praying. I keep sharing motherly wisdom hoping it will stick. After all, life is not just about what happens to us, it’s also about how we grow and the wisdom we gain in the midst of what happens. And a lot will happen on the parenting journey. In amazing and sometimes awful ways, much will be unexpected.
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV).
Perhaps love is the sweetest legacy any mother can give to her children. Even after many years of my mom’s physical absence, her love and life lessons still beat in my heart. Dear reader, wherever you are on your fierce or fragile journey, may you have all the strength, peace, and joy your heart can hold.