Mother’s Day: Success in the Mess

We’ve had a lot of special recognition days at work lately: National Professional Administrative Day, National Classified Employee Week, Teacher Appreciation Week, Nurses Day; the list is extensive. I wonder though if maybe we need these days because we treat each other crappy by our lack of kindness or show of appreciation on all the other days. I’m still practicing my efforts of kindness that I learned by The Kindness Challenge that I wrote about a couple of months ago. This could possibly replace all these special recognition days. Nah, then I would’t have gotten that awesome gift certificate for a pedicure.

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I like it better when make up calls occur before a date on the calendar appears. St. Patrick’s Day puts a tiny skip in my walk because I look forward to pinching people. But Mother’s Day is a little different, because mothers do feel a lack of appreciation and hallelujah, this is a day that warrants the make up call that is owed.

I am one of those moms who could talk about my kids and probably your kids for hours, especially when it comes to sports or health, being well versed in those two areas. One of my favorite memories is when our days were scheduled around playdates and rec center classes. Our days were filled with other things, but these are the things I recall with fondness, but didn’t appreciate at the time. When my son was two or three, he had a small spot in the middle back of his neck that I loved to snuggle and kiss. I’d grab his little body, wrestle it into mine, pull him tight and say, “Where’s my “favorite spot? I love my favorite spot!“ One day while on a playdate with close friends I overheard him say, “My mom loves to kiss my private spot.” EEEKS!

While some moms are looking forward to make up calls, for others this day might open wounds. You might not be a mom who takes your children’s love for granted, with a predictability of being honored on this day. You may not receive a tender word of gratitude, or have a spouse who will ensure that your child doesn’t overlook this opportunity to show his or her love. Your throat might tighten as you see proud postings on social media, suddenly wondering what the heck you’re doing staring at these expressions of love that are causing you sadness or even anger. Maybe you scoffed at the NBC report that an average of $80 is spent per person on Mother’s Day.

If you are that mother, I hope you’ll let some tears flow and ask God to restore brokenness and calm your heart. Ask for contentment when your family isn’t what you’d hoped. Remember that God says, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Know that this day isn’t the end of your story, and neither is this world. Ask God to fill in the gaps where you fail. Ask that your children’s hearts continue to mend and that by His strength they will be overcomers. Know that in spite of the circumstances, and in your grief, there is one who loves our children more than we do, and in that obedience of lifting our hearts before God we will find success in the mess.

Last weekend I got to spend Mom’s Weekend with my daughter at her school. It’s her senior year in college. I’m reminded of how fast the time has gone (or tardy I am) by the photo journal I’d promised for her high school graduation that is not yet completed (it is close!). The previous eight years seemed painfully slow at times as we navigated a divorce and the loss of our foundation as we knew it, and then Bridgette’s eating disorder. Bridgette’s final year in college is one to celebrate as she’s returned to a healthy thriving young woman enjoying what most college students enjoy: independence.

While I longed for her to be independent and fully who God designed her to be, I hadn’t yet known what that looked like, and really, neither did she. Even though I desired her independence as much for her as for me, I was surprised to learn that I had grown to depend on her dependency. I was in constant contact with her, both a prescription advised by her medical team and simply by instinct; it was my mission to help her overcome this. Evidence of all our hard work revealed itself at the beginning of this last fall, and I continued to cheer her on. But my words that were once nourishment became more like excess water that she didn’t need. Our conversations were changing. Her need for my input, coaching and encouragement was decreasing. While her mind and spirit were beautifully developing, my heart was confused that it (I) wasn’t needed like I once was.

Unlike any other relationship I know, a mother’s love will navigate the path of a child with one thing in mind: to do all we can to maintain the relationship. As I navigate the course, I talk with friends, I read, I consider, and make adjustments along the way. Moving forward and pulling back, staying true to myself and honoring them, refocusing when things get wobbly, with an eye on this relationship that God granted me.

Along the way, always praying. I began praying for them daily about 10 years ago with a group called Moms in Prayer. The dedication to this weekly event created a lifelong behavior for which I am grateful. In my prayers I am humbled, I am reminded, and as in 2 Chronicles 7:14, we are promised that when we seek God’s face, he is faithful to answer us.

I never turn down a lovely gift, my favorites being a manicure or a gift card to a favorite gardening store I might add. But the joy of this gift of prayer to my children has been the gift that keeps on giving (sorry; I’m a Christmas Vacation fanatic). It’s the gift that gives back to me, bringing me reassurance and a contented heart. It’s success in the mess.

May you be filled this year with the same, and with a hopeful heart on Mother’s Day.

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