life, mothers, Uncategorized

I Remember My Mother

        Today is Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019. My mother has been in heaven now almost six years. It’s hard to believe. I wanted to post this again today to honor her. Happy Mother’s Day in heaven!   

The first time I posted this blog was on April 25, 2009. I posted it again on May 12, 2012, the day before Mother’s Day. And I am, once again, sitting in the emergency room of our local hospital. It is almost unreal how much my mother’s health has failed in the last three years, how quickly it has failed in the last six months. She can no longer walk with a cane or walker. She is in a wheelchair all the time.  Different systems in her body have begun to fail.  It is very difficult to watch. But still, she is here and God willing, will celebrate Mother’s Day – perhaps at home or perhaps in a hospital room. But she will be here and for that, I am extremely grateful.

I am sitting in the emergency room of our local hospital – again.  My mother fell this morning.  Although she uses a walker or walking cane all the time, she often falls because of problems with one of her knees.  She has seizures, which occasionally cause her to fall.  She has congestive heart failure and degenerative disc disease.  My mother will be 80 in one week and her health has been failing for a number of years. 

This is not how I want to see or remember my mother.  I want to remember her the way she was when I was a child, a teenager and a young married woman with a child of my own.
When I was a child my mother was constantly busy.  Even though she worked full time, she would come home every day and cook “supper” as we called it then –meat, vegetables, bread and tea.  My sister and I always had clean and ironed clothes to wear to school.  On Saturdays, my mother would get up very early, and by the time I was up, she would have made-from-scratch cake layers cooling on racks, waiting for the sweet, sugary icing to be spread on top of each layer and all around the sides.  Then later in the morning, she would leave for her weekly appointment at the “beauty shop.”  (In those days, we had not heard of hair salons.) Sundays found her teaching an elementary Sunday school class and singing in the choir.
My mother taught me to respect my elders.  I still say “Yes, m ‘am and No, sir.” She taught me how to act in church and showed me what would happen if I didn’t behave!
During the summer months, my mother would come home from work and stand on her feet for hours blanching and then freezing beans, peas, corn, and squash so that we could have fresh vegetables in the winter.
My mother continued to be active in my teenage years; however the degenerative disc disease had begun to slowly ravage her spine.  Over the years, she lost several inches in height.  But this did not slow her down – at least not then.  She and my dad attended every chorus concert, every play that I was in, everything I did, they were there.  
I became engaged my sophomore year of college and as I planned my wedding, my mother was there to help and advise me.  I still remember her teary eyes as I dressed to leave the church for my honeymoon.
When my first child was born, my mother and father were at the hospital almost before I arrived!  I can see, even now, my mother holding my daughter, Kim, in her arms.  When I came home from the hospital, my mother stayed with us for a week, taking care of all the household chores so that I could bond with Kim and learn how to be a mother. (Why don’t babies come with an instruction manual??)  My mother also stayed for a week when my son, Kyle, was born, again taking care of everything.
Shortly after Kyle’s birth, my father became gravely ill and was hospitalized for several weeks, having two surgeries during that time.  My mother was an absolute rock.  She stayed, day and night, with my dad until he came home.  Once home, she waited on him hand and foot and watched over him vigilantly until he regained his strength and health.
When my daughter became pregnant at 16, my mother (and father) became a rock of support.  They surrounded my daughter with love and prayers.  When Kim went into labor, they made a mad dash to the hospital to be there when their first great grandchild was born.  I have a photograph of mother holding my grandson.  The love in her face was as intense and as deep as the love had been when she held her children and grandchildren.
Although my mother and I have not always seen “eye-to-eye” on some issues, and there have been times when she has driven me crazy (what mother doesn’t drive her daughter crazy sometimes?), she has always loved me, always supported me and always been there for me.
I don’t want to see her growing frailer with each passing day.  But this is life.  The least I can do is to be here for her.  Sitting in the waiting room of the ER.  Waiting.
daughters, mothers, praying, sisters

The Female Side of the Family

I have recommended a particular book to many women with whom I have counseled. The title of the book is “Captivating” by Staci and John Eldredge. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It is the book that can truly help a woman see herself as God sees her and to understand how much God loves her.

Last year one of the young ladies that read the book at my suggestion came to me after she finished and said, “You know that chapter ‘Mothers, Daughters, Sisters?’ I was praying and felt like God said to me ‘This is Edwina.’ He didn’t elaborate and she didn’t have anything to add except she thought I should re-read the chapter. So I read it again and a third time. As I came upon a statement that made me stop and think, I would journal about it.

Today’s blog is about this chapter. All quotes from the book are in italics and all credit is given to Staci and John Eldredge.

One of the statements that struck a chord with me was “all mothers fail their children to varying degrees.” Ouch. There have been so many times that I’ve said “I’m a failure as a mother” or “I’m a lousy mother” or words to that effect. In fact, I’ve said that so many times to my darling husband that he has gotten really upset with me. I realize, of course, that no mother is perfect. I suspect that even Mary, mother of Jesus, had her moments, although the Catholics would probably disagree with me on that one.

In this statement, “all mothers fail their children to varying degrees” what is the definition of “fail?” To not live up to our expectations of ourselves as mothers? Or to the world’s expectations? Is it to not live up to our mother’s expectations of how we should raise our daughters? Does failure mean to not “be there” when our children need us? Who determines if we are failing? Who makes the rules? Us? Our mothers? Society? God? Failure – is it not one thing to one person and something totally different to another?

The easiest answer to all of these questions is to not ask the questions and just let the statement “all mothers fail their children to varying degrees” stand. Don’t analyze it – just accept it. But that’s not enough for me.

Perhaps the key is the term I’ve not questioned “varying degrees.” For example, suppose a mother has to work on the day her 8 year old daughter is debuting in the school play. Normally, the mother is able to attend all of her daughter’s functions; however, this time she was not able to be away from her job during the time of the play. Will the daughter be disappointed? Probably. Will she be emotionally damaged for life? Probably not. This one incident should not damage the child emotionally for the rest of her life. The mother, on the other hand, will probably feel like a failure but the daughter will not look at it that way.

Suppose another mother never goes to any of her daughter’s school functions, is rarely at home and when she is, she doesn’t pay much attention to her daughter and never tells her that she loves her. Will her daughter be hurt? Yes. Will she be emotionally damaged for life? Yes, without a doubt.

So here is the crux of the matter: we are going to fail our children – no question about it. It doesn’t mean we are failures. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our children. It means we are human. When we fail our children, it means we have made a mistake. It doesn’t mean we aren’t doing the best we know how to do. It means that’s all we know to do.

I don’t think any mother sets out to deliberately fail her children. But there will be times when we do fail them. That’s when we go to them and tell them “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to fail you.” Apologizing will accomplish three things: 1) it will diffuse their anger; 2) it will help to heal any wounds our failure caused; and 3) it will bridge the gap between us and our children.

Are we failures as mothers? No. Will we fail our children at some point in their life? Yes. God has called each of us to be ministers of reconciliation. And that ministry should start at home. With our children.