I wonder if she knew when she died what truly made her a great mother. Her name was tied to a lot of noble causes; large families, homeschooling, adoption but none of these were why, as a young mother, I hung on every word she said. See, she had five children before I had one (that nearly doubled to nine a short time later). But it wasn’t just her experience or even that unparalleled behavior of her children that really got me. I believe what made her the greatest mother I had ever met was that she saw her children.
Not only that, but she saw them in light of God.
She had a radar for each child no matter how different one was from the next. She could see their identity, she could see their pain and she would constantly cut right through the behavior to the heart. The more a child would act out in an area the more assertive she was that they were created for the exact opposite. I watched her do this over, and over, and over again.
Adoption sharpened her skills. Adopted children come with a special set of challenges that “begotten” children do not. This reality propelled her deeper into the Gospel and into the character of God. I watched her unravel the strangest behaviors with sometimes nothing more than eye contact. The truth was she threw herself into being a mom. She fought for her children. Fought to keep herself out of the turbulent surface waters and get to those deeper, stronger undercurrents. She was relentless and unabashed in her confidence that love would always have the final word and that God was bigger. She also refused to conform to other’s idea of normal when she knew it wasn’t in her child’s best interest. She was brave.
I’ve thought of her a lot this week. I am so grateful I had her influence early on in my journey as a mother. I dearly miss her example which taught me that this mom thing is not about all the stuff we make it about. Maybe that is why today was not a typical Mother’s Day for me. I did a lot of stuff you’re not supposed to do like cooking, cleaning, etc. I did it because I understood the needs of my family and because it brought me joy. It was a slight shift in my normal attitude which could largely be viewed as “I should get the day off”. But that seemed to be missing the point. Today isn’t a day to take a day off. You should do that when your stressed, tired or just want to.
Today was a day to celebrate what it is to be a mother.
So after I did what was needed I took one on one time with each of my children (I’m up to five now, like she was when I met her). I took time to look in their eyes and embrace their uniqueness. I did something different with each and received something different from each. I reminded myself that mothering isn’t so much a sacrifice as it is an investment and that a good ninety percent of what we associate with being a mother isn’t being a mother at all. Because you can hire maids, cooks, chauffeurs, nurses, teachers; but you can’t hire someone to look into the God-given soul of a little person and lay down their life to defend His purposes for them.
That takes a Mother.