Life Along the Way: MOTHERS and DAUGHTERS and me
When my boys were little and loud and so very boy-ish, my only request for Mother’s Day was “take them away and let me read my book in peace.” No breakfast-in-bed, no smarmy card, no overpriced candy, and, for goodness sake, no plants for me to feel guilty about as they die from inevitable neglect. Just . leave . me . alone . in . the . blessed. quiet… aaah!
So, thirty years later, it’s no surprise that yesterday didn’t look much like a Hallmark® celebration here. Frank was off being a rockstar for an acquaintance’s 50th anniversary. Our elder son JD lives in Montreal, three time zones away, and our younger son James was recovering from emceeing a wedding/brawl on the other side of the strait in Vancouver. Just me, alone in the blessed quiet, up at 7AM to bake for church: [Strawberry walnut muffin recipe to follow.]
Lest you start feeling sorry for me,”alone in the quiet” is still a good thing. Time to chop, pray, stir, pray, scoop, pray and bake while I reread Amy Young’s brilliant “Open Letter to Pastors”. Amen, Amy – you preach it, girl! I know I was not the only pastor to include Amy’s eloquent words yesterday, though I may have been the only one to snap “Mother’s Day is NOT a liturgical celebration!” Amy’s words stirred something deep and left me mentally standing on tiptoe anticipating nudges from the Spirit throughout my non-traditional Mothers’ Day.
Prom dress fitting for my friend Emily; lunch with her mom Lynette and sister Nina; driving my son James home from the ferry; listening to phone messages: none of the activities of my Sunday looked like a greeting card celebration of Motherhood.
So, I breathed a sigh of relief that the dress fit(!); advised on boutonniere selection; teased Nina about her disdain for cooked celery. And thought to myself: “I’m so glad this family has let me into their lives.”
Blessed are the moms who are wise enough to know when to step aside and make room for someone else to speak into their child’s life (even if it’s silliness like “carnations are for when your date is your cousin and his mother made him take you.”)
Later, as I drove from Departure Bay Ferry Terminal, James talked about the wedding celebration gone sideways when family dysfunctions erupted under the influence of alcohol and stress. I marvelled at his aplomb as he emceed the event, doing his best to smooth over the very rough spots. I was glad to lend him to another family to support their Mom and Grandma, brother and father through a tough couple of days. He didn’t give me a card or flowers: he gave me the gift of himself sharing life; and left me once again thinking “I must have done something right: he’s such a decent man.”
Blessed are the sons and daughters who understand that appreciating their mother is not about cards and gifts, it’s about living values learned from Mom who did the best she could.
And as we stopped by the house for James to pick up a vehicle [that’s a whole ‘nother story for Father’s day!], we listened to messages. A “Happy Mothers’ Day” from, JD celebrating with Bre-Anne, the wonderful mother of our four grandchildren who still longs for the Mom she lost two years ago.
Blessed are the adult children who understand their first priority is to love their spouses and to provide a sound foundation for their own children. Wise grandmas cheer from the sidelines and pray hard for those who are still in the midst of it all.
Finally — trembling lip and tear in my eye — another Happy Mother’s Day message from Megan: James’ dear friend who was still in school when she lost her mom to cancer.
I have been “Mumma Graham” for more than a decade now – not trying to fill the shoes, but standing in the gap where Mom should be. With no daughters of my own, because Megan made room for me: I shopped for bridesmaids’ outfits; smocked a flower girl dress; helped pull together a backyard wedding reception; gave unsolicited advice and encouragement; delegated a huge amount of work for Frank’s retirement party; plotted a surprise birthday for James. And now, [any day now!], I wait for the arrival of our “honorary” grandson.
Today, I’m cleaning the prom dress carnage from my sewing room and the deck where I left a mound of satin and lace shrapnel. As I’m thinking about yesterday, the lesson from the Spirit has come clear in Day-after-Mother’s-Day thankfulness for Miss B.and Doris, Rosemary and Gwyneth, Shirley and Gaye who all cared for me when I needed someone to be “Mom”. And, praise His Holy Name, there’s blessing for me too, with Allison, and Cindy and Megan.
Blessed are you who stand in the gap where Mom cannot or will not be. Blessed are you who come alongside: to walk through the valley and to dance in joy; to encourage and to pray. Blessed are you, the mother-who-is-not-her-mother, because I give you to each other as a sign of My unending Grace.
I am blessed. So very blessed.