“It is hard to say what it means to be at work and thinking of a person you loved
and love still who did that same work before you and taught you to do it.
It is a comfort ever and always,
like hearing the rhyme come when you are singing a song.”
— wendell berry
I grew up the oldest of six children. It is still baffling to think that now I have six of my own. Don’t get me wrong. Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. The desired family size varied from season to season. But to be at home, and to have children, I knew I wanted that. And for that aspiration, I have my mom to thank. She made being a wife and mother look so attractive.
There are many times throughout my day, that I’ll think of her. This quote from Berry’s Hannah Coulter summarizes so well, what is often welling up in my heart. It is a comfort ever and always, to find myself doing as I was taught… not in so many words, but in life being lived out. I feel rich to have such a teacher.
Three themes stand out to me lately…
01. My mom never avoided doing something because it was hard.
Six kids is WORK. It is messy and complicated and loud. And yet, growing up, my parents were regularly planning weekly family day adventures, taking long road trips and having us participate in church events together. The gravity of this hit me last summer, as I was recalling all the times my parents took us to see fireworks in D.C. — a thought we ever so briefly entertain every July 4th and then immediately abandon. The crowds, the traffic, the work to pack food, and spend hours at a place where public bathrooms are nary to be found. And yet, year after year, that’s just what we did. My mom packing coolers with homemade chicken fingers and potato salad and sweet tea in jugs, quilts and lawn chairs, sparklers and those growing snake pellet things to entertain us while we waited for darkness to fall. And growing up, I never once had the conscious thought that this must be a lot of work. There was never a complaint. Never, “Oh, we won’t do that because it would be SO hard…” And now we have this rich treasure of memories from growing up.
My mom taught me by example that the success or failure of doing something with kids is all about the way you approach it. It’s going to be work no matter what; but embracing the challenge with faith makes all the difference.
02. My mom was always creating.
Talking with a friend recently about art, I had the realization that my mom was always creating something. Decorating and re-decorating the house, wallpapering, faux painting (remember when that was a thing?!). Cooking delicious meals every night. Sewing clothes, curtains and pillows. Building a deck. Most recently, being involved in building their new house. There is no fanfare about it, she simply makes and enjoys doing so. Long before the days of pinterest inspiration. When there was no instagram or facebook to share accomplishments. Creating just for the sake of the seven people within the walls of her home. And we were/are the better for it.
03. Above all else, my mom trusted God.
Broad as that phrase may be, it is honestly the foundation of everything my mom is and does. My mom (and dad) raised us with this anchor : that God is true and that He is trustworthy. There are thousands of other lessons I’m sure they taught, but that thread ran steady throughout and has carried me over the years. Growing up, we got to see firsthand the peace and steadiness that comes from trusting God. And I want that. I want my kids to see that in me and want it. In a day and age where fear is running rampant. Where we are bombarded constantly with causes for alarm. I don’t think there’s anything more valuable than this. My mom raised four strong women. Strong because of the foundation we were given to build on.
Thanks Mom for all you’ve done and continue to do. I’m grateful to be singing the song with you…