“It’s stuck in my mind. That bad part of my dream. I can’t stop thinking about it.” He’s seven and sleep never comes easily for him. Some of us just weren’t built with an off switch. Without thought, without hesitation, the prayers come. The petitions, praises and supplications tumble out, filling the minutes with a fluid stream of intercession. Then suddenly I realize that my voice has slowed to match the rhythm of two little boys breathing steady with slumber.
It was just me you know. There in the bed. My mother would sit on the edge stroking my hair back from my face and I would fall asleep to the sound of her prayers. I don’t really remember what she said. I can remember a song or two but not the prayers. It wasn’t the words it was just her- just her staying there. Her tender voice and the soft tears washing me into dream. I didn’t understand it but I still loved it. I’m sure she had so many other things to do but she never acted like it. She was never in a hurry. She would just sit and sing and pray…
It’s been over a month since my grandmother died. In truth the funeral had been a hard one for me. I was grieving but not as one ought at the death of a grandmother. I hurt for my mother but, for me, there was a disconnect. In that moment, reverence and sincerity seemed to be in a deadlock power-struggle for my sense of virtue. Finally I found some common ground. No more had it come to me than my father seemed to be uttering that very thing from the front of the small church. Music! My grandmother had given my mother the seed-gift of music. For whatever else may have not been given, music had and for that I was grateful.
A short while later we made our way through winding back road to the cemetery. Standing there I realized she had been my last living grandparent. There is no one to call me granddaughter now. A whole generation- an era has passed. Without consultation or consent there has been a changing of the guard. As the fresh air blew passed I realized it was the first day of spring. Truly a new season had begun. In my family I now embodied a station- a role. My grandmother’s death finalized the transition of my mom’s primary role from mother to grandmother. And in tandem me from daughter to mother. The story I’ve known has now changed vantage points. With my daughter taking the role I’ve known for so long and we will write the story again.
That seed gift of music grew up in my mother’s heart. It matured and brought forth fruit. then she harvested it and sowed it back into her own children. Tenderly, fervently she worked it into the soil of their hearts. Now, she has nine children, all with some musical inclination and most of us prone to bursting out in song with one another at any time. Music runs deep for us and over the years our family has built a lengthy sound track. Song of mourning, songs of faith, songs of joy. Sometimes there weren’t words and the music became our language. A glimpse into each other. Or sometimes into ourselves.
It is beautiful to be able to see how that little seed has grown into a large tree and is, in fact, still growing. However it’s also got me thinking. There are a lot of little seed gifts my mom has planted in my heart that were not first given to her. She somehow passed on more than what she had been handed. Somehow, her two loaves and five fishes, had multiplied. And I’ve got to ask myself; will I continue like that. Will I pass on to my children more than I was given?
Technically I’ve been a mother for nearly eight years now. That time encompasses the pregnancy, birth and early childhood of four biological children and a temporary stint with two beautiful foster girls. For the better part of that time I have been taken by storm with the passing phases of child-rearing. I’ve also intentionally aligned myself to one side of nearly every mommy-debate out there. From breastfeeding, to socializing I’ve staked out my position and run my race. And this is the draw right? That motherhood is all of the activity and the circumstances we live through day by day. But it’s so much deeper than that.
Today was Mother’s Day. For many it was a rush of cards, flowers, and hopefully some food that mom didn’t have to cook. Accompanying this there was likely talk of how much mom’s do. Accolades about loads of laundry, and soccer games and… stuff. Gratitude is wonderful and I am still a sucker for flattery. But, in truth, all that stuff I do… well, it’s just stuff. It’s not what makes me a mom. The house, the schedule, the food; A maid could be hired to do that. Someone else could even carry and birth the baby(just ask anyone who’s adopted). But you can’t hire someone to sit on the edge of a bed and pray your son to sleep. Not from the depths of their soul. Not for the joy set before them. No, you can hire a tutor- heck you can hire a wet-nurse; but the true role of a mother. Well, that just can’t be outsourced.
So… will I pass on to my kids more than I was given? I’m not sure. But this year, I want to do better than I did last year. I don’t want to cook better food, or keep a cleaner house. No, I want to delight myself in sowing seed gifts to the soil of my children; not withholding of myself nor begrudging the labor for want of end or ease. I want to look at my children more. I want to listen. And I want to keep praying them to sleep at night until such time as I should find the beds empty and this season flown too fast. Then, in peace I will still pray, knowing I gave it all I had, and trusting that the Good Father would add according to his riches. Then perhaps my children will find that they have more than I gave… though I gave them all.
Tonight, for me, this is what it is to be a mother.