Sunday, April 27, 2014

Calling All Moms

It's the time of the year when the birds are chirping louder, the temperature has warmed enough for azaleas and dogwoods to bloom,  and that last hint of winter has left...hopefully.  The official day when Mom's are flowered, gifted, and banned from the kitchen is approaching.  It's a time when many of us take the opportunity to say "thanks, Mom".

Celebrations are abundant.  But the time surrounding the day when we celebrate our Moms can be both a time of joy and a time of sadness. If you are mourning the passing of your mom; perhaps a physical passing or an emotional passing by choice, it's difficult to welcome the day with open arms.  Just a glimpse around me makes me realize that there are women who ache to be a mom and hold a sweet babe in their arms; yet their arms remain empty.  There are those who have lost a child to death, possibly their only child. This day can be a difficult one for so many.

Mother's Day, May, 2006 was the first Mother's Day that I spent without my mom. Patsy Owens Sutton, Mom, died February 6 of that year. It was a hard, hard time for me. I so dreaded that day coming. It wasn't that I wanted to take the celebrations away from those who were enjoying them; I just wanted it too. The hole that her unexpected death left was still very large in my heart.  If the calendar could have somehow miraculously  skip that day, I would have welcomed it.

Having a keen awareness of others and their difficulties in life, a friend of mine, Ann,  knew that I would be struggling with that day in particular. Because of that, she encouraged me to take that Mother's Day and not dwell on what I didn't have but think about all of the women past and present who have played a positive role in my life. So, not because it was easy, but because I thought it was really good advice on how "to get through it", I made it my goal,  that first Mother's Day without my mom, to focus on being thankful for all of those women who had positively impacted me for so many years.

 And there were so many.

 So many that I didn't know where to begin. There were my grandmothers whose love never stopped whether it was in the form of praise or correction. There was the lady who was the "sweet, elderly lady" in the church where I attended as a little girl in Illinois. She was the other half  the candy man at church  (I think most churches must have them - sweet, usually elderly men who pass out gum or candy to the little kids after church.) There was the wife of an older man that we knew, who although she was long past young children days, she never forgot what it was like to have those little people under foot. She encouraged me religiously and I so needed it and appreciated it.   There were the women who opened up their homes and hearts to me as a young mom - the ones who let me know that sometimes, being a mom was a battle - but in Mary Joe's words..."You must remember, you have to win."  That advice was given to me over 25 years ago, and I've never forgotten it.  I knew that. I also knew that I would survive, but it surely did help to know that others  had walked down the same road that I was currently on and that if I would just hang in there, I would eventually reach the end of that road successfully. Their wisdom was valuable to me. There are young moms who allow me to love on their babies. That sweet, innocent love never grows old.  And the list goes on and on.

I won't pretend that the women who give birth to us play only a small role in our lives.  Because their role is so large, losing them is devastating or at least it was for me. Certain days of the year tend to make that sadness come to the surface more easily. But that year, 2006, I began to look at Mother's Day in a totally different light.

 You may not be a mom physically but you can still choose to celebrate those who fill that role. Your mom may not be with you for whatever reason, but you can still choose to allow your children and your husband to celebrate you and you as well can choose to celebrate those who fill that role well.

I am blessed that my mom was the kind that clothed herself with strength and dignity.  She absolutely was the glue for our family.  She spoke with wisdom. She instructed us whether we wanted to hear it or not! Her example to me of loving others by serving them is firmly imprinted in my mind.

I am also thankful for the many, many women  who were not related to me physically but have played a positive role in my life. There is no shortness of mothers in God's family. They have loved me.  They have cared for me.  They have grieved with me and hurt for me.

It has been that during those times, I have better understood and appreciated God's wisdom in providing us with a spiritual family.

So, as Mother's Day approaches, if your relationship with your mom isn't what you would choose for it to be, or if you mom is no longer here for you to spend time with,  let me encourage you to think about all of the women who have been a source of encouragement and love to you. Then,  you take what has been done for you and pass it on. Think about that single mom who never gets out by herself. Fix a meal for her. Take her kids to the park and give her a gift certificate to get a pedicure. Help that mom whose children live far away. Have her over for Mother's Day lunch.  Help that mom of little ones who hasn't slept for days because her babies are sick.  Help that woman whose mom is no longer present in her life. You get the idea. But don't be surprised if you are the one who reaps the benefits. That's just how it usually works.

To my mom...A day rarely goes by that I don't think about you. I wish that you could see my life for the last 8 years as well as Nate's, Aaron's, Katie's and Mikaylas. So much has happened. 

I miss you.

To the many, many other moms that have influenced my life, thank you for your example and your love. I have taken much of it to heart and valued all of it.  

And to Ann...thank you for caring enough to encourage me to see past my grief. I pray that 
I have used your example and passed it on.