Yesterday I stood in front of the Mother’s Day and Graduation card section at Walmart and burst into tears. Why in the world do they have those cards right beside each other?! There was no controlling it, I was overcome with a sense of loss and change and deep sadness. I’ve been trying to hold it together for the past week as I have realized that my role as a Mother and a Daughter has completely turned upside down and inside out; it has changed and because of that I have changed. And yet, now that my tears have subsided….for now….and I face my first Mother’s Day without my mother and as I prepare my heart to watch my first born graduate I am left contemplating what my Mother and Daughter have taught me, how their lives have helped to shape and mold my own. These two women (I can’t believe that I am actually referring to my daughter as a “woman”) have had such enormous impacts in my life and I would not be the woman that I am if it weren’t for them.
I have learned from both Mom and Hannah the fine art of laughing at myself. Times when I would rather cry or dig a hole to hide in, they have both been an example of how not to take myself too seriously. Life would be dull and colorless if it weren’t for the spilled coffee or chocolate sauce on our white shirts or the times that we’ve tripped and managed to catch ourselves just before hitting the ground with our faces. How boring would it be without the toilet paper hanging from our panty hose at weddings, or the times we’ve accidentally found ourselves in the men’s bathroom instead of the women’s? The ability to laugh at our mistakes and blunders only adds to the beauty of our days, it doesn’t diminish it.My Mother and Daughter have also each brought music into my life. I cherish the memories that I have of Mom and I doing dishes together “harmonizing” to “Rocky Top” or “Country Roads”….it wasn’t until I was an adult and able to laugh at myself that I realized that it isn’t really harmonizing when one person isn’t able to carry a tune in a bucket! I loved it when she would bring out her guitar and sing for the boys and me, or share songs that she and her Dad used to sing together. I’ll never forget when she introduced me to the music that she loved as a child and a young adult, listening to her old records and singing songs like “Three Wheels On My Wagon” are some of the best and dearest memories my brothers and I have. The love of music that she and her granddaughter shared was a precious gift to both of them. I’ll never forget how excited she was when she discovered that she finally had someone to harmonize with! The days of cleaning up the kitchen had a whole new level of joy once she and Hannah began singing together. And the music that my sweet daughter has brought into our house has brought immeasurable joy, not to mention the way that her face lights up whenever she is making music or sharing her gift with other people. The joy she has felt and exudes each time she performs is contagious and blesses my heart. They both have taught me that you don’t have to have the voice of an angel, or any musical ability at all in order to receive and enjoy the gift of music.
Mom and Hannah have each taught me about grace. It’s one thing to read about God’s grace or to hear about it in a sermon, but to actually see grace lived out in someone’s life…that is a beautiful thing to experience. At different times and stages in my life I have been shown and showered with grace by my Mom and my Daughter. It’s not been so terribly long ago that I can’t remember what being a teenager was like….those years were full of selfishness and insecurities and hurt feelings and hurting other people’s feelings. Yet through all of my messy and sometimes ugly teenage years I was given grace by a mother that loved me unconditionally and who taught me that my true identity came from the Lord who had created me and gave me gifts and talents and characteristics that made me unique and precious. I didn’t have to earn her love I just had it. I learned during those years that no matter how ugly or inadequate I felt, knowing that my Mother loved me and thought that I was beautiful and full of potential was enough for me. I’ve tried to gift this same grace to Hannah, but more often than not over the last 18 ½ years my daughter has taught me about grace. Forgiving me when I have failed as a Mom, overlooking my shortcomings and instead focusing on what I’ve done right over the years for she and Kade. She and her grandmother have always been my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. Both of them have encouraged me to not let go of my own dreams and goals, but to keep on chasing them. And they each have shown me the beauty and joy of extending grace to those around me.
Lastly my Mother and Daughter have shown me the importance of having a right perspective in life. Because life is hard and messy at times, full of disappointments and sorrow and regret. But life is also beautiful and full of joy and victories and purpose. Something that my Mom would always say about herself was that she was an “optimistic realist”. She wasn’t a Pollyanna, she didn’t look at life like nothing bad could ever happen as long as you just lived the right way or did the right things. She was a ranch wife….she knew that life could be tough and sometimes not turn out the way that you wanted or expected it to. But Life was still good and at the end of the day when you go to God with all that you are blessed with, you can’t help but be thankful. She taught me that all of the hard things in life just kind of fade away in the light of eternity and God’s plan for each of us. And the fact that the Lord does indeed have the power to work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28); the realist side of her would say that this doesn’t mean that all things are good, but it does mean that God has the ability to take even the most tragic of circumstances and turn them into something beautiful and useful for our good and His glory. And Hannah has been such an example of this! She has faced many great victories but also some pretty tough disappointments in her 18 years. There have been things that she has worked so hard for and found herself coming up short. I have watched as she has discovered that she could allow those disappointments to destroy and take away something of value to her, or she could just put her nose to the grindstone, keep on working hard and forge ahead to the next thing, refusing to give up or give in to self-doubt or pity. I’ve seen how my girl has weighed those disappointments in life on a godly scale, not a worldly one…. determining whether or not in the grand scheme of life it really mattered. I’ve watched as she has maturely let some things and some people go who have not had a good influence on her soul. Hannah and my Mom have taught me that life is precious and too short to allow things into our lives that steal joy and keep our character stunted.
As I reflect early on this Mother’s Day morning I am struck with the realization that I am the Mother that I am because of these two precious women in my life. Even though I ache deeply with missing my Mom, and as I prepare my heart to watch my Daughter go out on her own, I am overcome with joy and awe at just how blessed I am. Happy Mother’s Day to my sweet Mama in heaven and to all of the other women in my life who have blessed me!!
“Her children arise and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28