Thursday, May 5, 2016

When Mother's Day Brings Baggage

Sometimes Mother's Day brings baggage along that's sad or bad. I try to see God's hand in it...and don't always find it... but I know it's there.
I don't know why I lost my mom to cancer at such a young age. The year prior to her passing was tough, and because I was a pre-teen and "knew it all," I didn't understand what she was going through or may of been thinking.
I still don't, but I have a better idea.
I often thought my mom didn't love me (my sisters too) enough to fight for her life. I know that's not true, and I refuse to believe that lie anymore. I think I let it live so long to ignore the deeper pain of missing her so badly.

I missed her as I shopped for my wedding dress. I think that was my first awareness of missing her. I vividly remember a Bobby Goldsboro song ("Honey," a favorite of hers) coming over the piped in music, as if God was letting me know she was there, watching from heaven. I still cry at the thought that my husband never got to meet her. I'm pretty sure they would love each other.
I missed her so much when I gave birth to my own children. It may of been selfish of me, I didn't have a mom to help me navigate those early days of motherhood. I was sad that my kids and my mom would never meet. They would never get to be babysat by her and she would never get to root them on in their life achievements.
As my kids approached the age I was when she died, I tried to think of having to say goodbye to them.
I couldn't imagine it.
I don't remember her ever communicating her love for me back then. Was it too painful? Did she not know she was going to die? Did she say "I love you" well and often and did I just blocked it out? I don't know.
I was so blessed when one of my aunts commented how much one of my daughters looked like my mom at that same age. I had never seen a photo of my mother as an early teenager.
As my kids hit milestones in life, I missed her more. Although I was told by my aunts that my mom had a sour disposition and even a mean streak in her, I think she would have cheered grandkids on in life. I hope they would of softened her heart and made her laugh more. That she would of swelled with pride as her grands received educational accolades, celebrated their marriages, and their families grew. I looked around for godly women living near me who gave a good example on how to grandparent... I didn't get to see how this was supposed to be first-hand, and mentoring wasn't much around then.
It became harder to remember things about her as a mom, and although she cherished my older sisters' babies, she herself was just starting her journey as a grandma. She was just learning this for herself.
Now, as I get to see my own grandkids grow, I think about how I want to be remembered by them, and by my grown children and their spouses too.
I've lived beyond my mother's years, and I don't take that lightly. I want to be intentional with my days, my words, my attitudes. I hope I'm planting seeds in my family to grow with them as they mature and become the moms and dads and grandparents God will have them be in the future.
It's not about the recipes and traditions I want to pass along, but the open arms, the ready smile, the laughter and joy, the songs. I want to build my memory makers. I want them to remember that naps are good things to combat "grumpy grandma," and how I love hugs and lullabies at bedtime. That they can "always come home." That I value arts and crafts, and walks to see the neighbor's flowers and God's sunlight filtering through His leaves. I want them to remember me reading my Bible as much as I was taking pictures on my phone (still working on that, and ditching my Bible app for the real book when they are here!). I want them to remember how I loved playing a game more than winning, and how much I enjoy learning new words. I want them to see me love God by loving others, even when it hurts, and how the power of forgiveness before hearing the words "I'm sorry" is so freeing.
No matter how close or far away we are, I want each one of them, kids, in-laws, and grands, to remember how much I love them. Always. Unconditionally.
"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
What things do you hope your kids and grandkids will remember about you?
Do you grandparent from afar? What's your favorite tip?